Typhoon Haiyan

November 14, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On Friday November 8th,  super-typhoon Haiyan swept through Tacloban, the provincial capital of the island of Leyte, leaving the city in ruins and its population of more than 200,000 in desperate conditions.  Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, devastated a massive central portion of the Philippines and continued its destructive and deadly path, also making landfall in Vietnam and inflicting more damage and suffering.

SDMI is monitoring the response and will provide updates on response and recovery efforts, as well as contribution information, on our website. You can visit the page here: http://www.sdmi.lsu.edu/typhoon-haiyan/

To date, over 11.8 million people have been affected by Haiyan, including an estimated 2,344 fatalities. President Benigno Aquini III estimates the number could climb as search and rescue operations continue. Those surviving the super-typhoon are currently in desperate need of food, water, and shelter. Of these 11 million, over 900,000 have been displaced in the storms aftermath, some relying on evacuation centers set up for temporary housing. While massive relief efforts are currently underway, blocked roads and poor conditions at some airports have made delivering aid to those in need an extremely difficult proposition.

One of the world’s most massive relief efforts is currently underway to help this area in desperate need. This effort will require support from across the globe to assist in both immediate and long-term recovery. As experts in Disaster Management, with direct experience in catastrophic events, SDMI recognizes that every effort helps in these times of need. To assist and spread the word in the response and recovery mission, SDMI encourages you to consider making any contribution you can, large or small, to any of the international agencies that are providing support to the recovery process.

We encourage you to continue to check back for the latest information on response and ways you can support the recovery from Haiyan.… Read the rest

SDMI Welcomes The DRC Group as a Corporate Member

August 21, 2014


SDMI is delighted to announce The DRC Group as SDMI’s newest Corporate Member. Corporate members of the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute’s Center for Business Preparedness consist of corporations, foundations, and individuals whose passions are aligned with our pursuit of the improvement of emergency management, business continuity, and community resiliency. These organizations and individuals provide the private support needed to sustain these programs and continue to assist our communities in being better prepared and more resilient when disaster strikes.

The DRC Group is among the leading disaster management groups in the United States providing emergency preparation, response, and recovery from major catastrophes. The primary mission of DRC is professional, honest, and immediate response to natural and man-made disasters throughout the world.

DRC has developed extensive experience and capabilities in emergency response and recovery over the last twelve years including, but not limited to: Disaster Management and Relief Services, Debris Management, Demolition, Marine Debris/Salvage/Recovery, Vehicle and Vessel Removal, Technical Assistance and Project Management, Temporary Housing, Workforce Housing and Life Support, Construction and Construction Management, Landfill Management, Civil, Heavy and Vertical Construction, and Oil Spill Response and Recovery.

Kristy Fuentes, Director of Sales and Marketing for The DRC Group, says her company is delighted to team up with SDMI. “The DRC Group is very excited to become a Corporate Member of the Stephenson Disaster Management Instiutte,” says Fuentes. ” We look forward to expanding our relationship with SDMI and building a strong, long-term partnership.”

Corporate Memberships make it possible for SDMI to research and develop current and relevant disaster knowledge, and to provide executive-level leadership education to the next generation of disaster managers, as well as business, volunteer, and government leaders. The memberships also ensure that SDMI will continue to be available to our University, state, and region as an international disaster resource center as we continuously improve disaster knowledge and education for our country.… Read the rest

SDMI Hosts Visitors from South American Universities

August 20, 2014

SDMI is currently hosting visitors from the  University Network of Latin America and Caribbean Risk Reducation and Disaster Emergency (REDULAC/RRD) sponsored by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to showcase Louisiana’s disaster and emergency management capabilities.

SDMI will introduce the South American delegation of professors, university administrators and USAID/OFDA LAC staff members to federal, state and local, including university-level, programs that are in place in Louisiana to help  better prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters. The group will visit agencies and organizations responsible for disaster planning and response activities, and will discuss with university faculty and staff disaster- and resiliency -related programs that have been incorporated into the university curricula.

“SDMI is pleased to welcome USAID and the distinguished Latin American university delegation to LSU,” says Joseph Booth, Executive Director of SDMI. “We are happy to host their visit and exchange information and experiences regarding how universities can contribute to disaster resiliency and recovery. We are hopeful these new relationships can be continued into an ongoing dialogue, as well as joint engagements to develop and improve strategies to mitigate the effects of disasters.”

The REDULAC delegation will also visit with officials and faculty from Dillard University that was impacted by Hurricane Katrina to discuss continuity of operations and emergency management for institutions of higher learning and see the ongoing revitalization of post-Katrina New Orleans. During their visit to Baton Rouge, the group will see Lousiana State University programs that conduct  research and support disaster resiliency and response efforts.

Sidney Velado, Regional Advisor for the USAID- OFDA Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has great expectations for their visit to SDMI and Louisiana. “This  exchange will enrich professors from South Amecian universities, as  it will highlight the role of the academia in disaster risk reduction, knowledge generation through applied research, and partnerships with government, the private sector,  and first response agencies,” says Velado.… Read the rest

SDMI Announces Creation of Cyber Research Center and Hiring of Jeff Moulton

August 18, 2014


Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander announced the creation of the LSU Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center, which will pursue major federal and commercial research projects in applied technology fields. Initially, the TTCRC will be funded in part by the State of Louisiana and LSU in a challenge grant configuration that provides $1 in state funding and $0.50 in LSU funding for each $10 in research funds the center attracts over the next three years.

Ultimately, the TTCRC will target raising $34.5 million over its initial three years, with $30 million coming from external federal and private sources and the remainder coming from the State of Louisiana ($3 million) and LSU ($1.5 million). Creation of the center, which will collaborate with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute and other LSU research entities, is subject to a vote by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

The research center’s first director, Jeff Moulton, comes to LSU from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, where he served as director of program development for a 1,700-person entity that attracts more than $300 million in annual research and development contracts. Moulton will be charged with attracting major research contracts to LSU by leveraging the university’s unique strengths in such disciplines as supercomputing, cybersecurity and nanotechnology.

Governor Jindal said, “The Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center will help LSU attract tens of millions in new research funds while also resulting in new knowledge-based jobs in our state. This represents another great opportunity to leverage higher education partnerships to help create jobs in our state.”

Goals of the research partnership between the State of Louisiana and LSU are for the center to reach at least $10 million in research contracts by Jan. 1, 2016, and $30 million in research contracts by July 1, 2017.… Read the rest

SDMI Assists State of Hawaii in Hurricane Preparedness

August 7, 2014

Hawaii is currently bracing itself as Hurricane Iselle is forecast to become the first hurricane to hit the island in more than two decades. A couple of days later, Hurricane Julio could be the second one. Although state officials could have never predicted these storms, they are prepared to face them head on and the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute is proud to have been a part of that preparedness training.

Two months ago, before Hurricane Iselle was bearing down on Hawaii, Doug Mayne, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the state of Hawaii, was in Baton Rouge visiting SDMI and touring the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LA BEOC).

The LA BEOC is considered a FEMA best practice and receives many visitors who wish to learn how Louisiana coordinates the public and private sector during disasters. It works closely with the State Emergency Operations Center in distributing information to the private sector and coordinating resource acquisitions within the state. The LA BEOC is also widely recognized as an innovative and effective practice in mitigating the effects of disaster events and expediting recovery.

Mayne also observed and participated in the LA BEOC annual stake holder exercise, where he gathered valuable information about disaster preparedness and recovery.

“Doug was extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn how we operate the LA BEOC and looked forward to sharing that information with his colleagues in Hawaii,” says Joseph Booth, Executive Director of SDMI. “We are always glad to share what we have learned with other jurisdictions that have not had the same level of exposure to hurricanes like we have.”

Mayne and MG Darryl Wong, Director of Emergency Management in Hawaii, are schedule to return to Baton Rouge in late September to meet with SDMI and learn even more about emergency management in Louisiana. That visit will now be determined by the situation and aftermath of Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.… Read the rest

NEMA Releases National Report, Produced by SDMI

July 1, 2014

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) recently issued a national report on states’ abilities to deploy private sector and volunteer resources through EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact). SDMI was a major component of this project, being tasked by NEMA to conduct the studies and produce the report. Below is NEMA’s press release announcing the report:


“As states consider ways to increase their disaster response/recovery resource inventories, NEMA is releasing a new report on innovations and best practices in deploying private sector and volunteer resources through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). In partnership with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute (SDMI), NEMA conducted a survey on these issues and received responses from 43 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Detailed follow-up interviews were conducted with 16 states. The report focuses on gaining insight into the experiences of states that have used the EMAC process to deploy private sector and volunteer resources to states with specific needs requested through EMAC. These states provided a wealth of information regarding their experiences, capabilities and concerns in deploying private sector and volunteer resources. This report provides specific examples of solutions that can be replicated in other states interested in building these capabilities.

The following documents are being released as part of the NEMA study:

  • EMAC Private Sector and Volunteer Resources Analysis
  • Sample Intergovernmental Agreement between State and Local, Non-Governmental and Tribal Organizations for mutual aid deployments.  We highly recommend all states take a look at this agreement if you need a model.  It can be modified to accommodate any state’s particular issues.
  • EMAC Best Practices and Lessons Learned on Private Sector and Volunteer Deployments
  • EMAC Case Study on North Carolina deployment of field hospitals with public and private personnel

NEMA would like to thank the states and territories that participated in the survey effort and a special thanks to those that agreed to follow-up interviews. … Read the rest

2014 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

May 23, 2014

Stephenson Disaster Management Institute at LSU would like to remind everyone that this weekend, Saturday May 24 and Sunday, May 25, is the 2014 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday. This tax holiday gives Louisiana residents and businesses an opportunity to prepare for the coming hurricane season which begins June 1.

Essential items such as flashlights, batteries, portable generators and other supplies are free from the four percent state sales tax. During the two-day annual holiday, tax-free purchases are authorized on the first $1,500 of the sales price of each of the following items:

  • portable self-powered light source;
  • portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio;
  • tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
  • any ground anchor system or tie-down kit;
  • any gas or diesel fuel tank;
  • any package of AAA-cell, AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries;
  • any cellular phone battery and any cellular phone charger;
  • any non-electric food storage cooler;
  • any portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage;
  • any storm shutter device
  • any carbon monoxide detector; and
  • any blue ice product

For more information and conditions for exemption, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/hurricaneprepRead the rest

SDMI Welcomes Bill Read as Senior Fellow

May 21, 2014

SDMI is pleased to announce Bill Read has recently joined SDMI as its newest Senior Fellow.  Read, a KPRC Local 2 Hurricane Expert (Houston), has had a lifetime of following and forecasting tropical storms and hurricanes. He started his career by earning a BS in Meteorology from Texas A&M in 1971, followed by serving in the U.S. Navy where he came face to face with hurricanes by flying into the storms with the Navy Hurricane Hunters out of Jacksonville, Florida. After four years in the Navy, Read attended graduate school earning an MS in Meteorology at Texas A&M in 1976.

Following school, Read  pursued a 35 year career with the National Weather Service, starting out forecasting weather in San Antonio and Fort Worth, before making the leap into management. Read’s longest tenure was in the Houston area, where he was in charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office for over 15 years. In 2005 his efforts to improve collaboration with emergency management culminated in the colocation of the Houston-Galveston Forecast Office with the Galveston County Emergency Operations Center. In 2007, he was given the opportunity to serve at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, and became Director of the Center in January 2008, retiring there in June 2012.

“During the last several decades I have watched our ability to forecast hazardous weather and communicate the threat to a much wider audience through the internet and social media, yet the economic costs of these events keeps climbing,” said Read. “Katrina showed us that large loss of life is still an unfortunate probability when vulnerable populations are impacted by natural disasters.  I look forward to working alongside the team assembled at SDMI to reduce the loss of life in future disasters.

SDMI Executive Director, Joseph Booth, said of Read joining the SDMI family, “Bill Read is a very widely known and respected expert in hurricane and other severe weather events.… Read the rest

SDMI Senior Fellow, Jeffrey D. Stern, Appointed State Coordinator of Virginia Department of Emergency Management by Governor Terry McAuliffe

May 8, 2014

Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, recently announced additional appointments to his administration. Among those announcements was the appointment of Jeffrey Stern, an SDMI Senior Fellow, as the State Coordinator of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Jeffrey Stern has over 25 years of local and federal government experience as an emergency manager and first responder, having been a firefighter, paramedic, and battalion chief, leading hazmat, technical, and swiftwater rescue teams with fire departments in Virginia, Maryland, and Colorado.  He served in leadership roles as Director of the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System and in the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management, and helped lead teams in response to Hurricanes Charley and Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.

“Governor McAuliffe has selected a highly qualified and well-respected person in Jeffrey Stern to lead the Virginia Department of Emergency Management,” says Joseph Booth, Executive Director of SDMI.  “Congratulations to Jeffrey Stern for his selection in this important role for the State of Virginia.  We are proud of our association with Jeffrey; his contributions at SDMI date back to our very beginning.  We are certain of his success in this position.”

Stern was also the Executive Director of the Homeland Security Advisory Council at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he teaches disaster management at Georgetown University. Mr. Stern earned his B.A. in Government from the College of William & Mary, his MPA from the American University School of Public Affairs, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Administration and Policy.  He is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers, a member of the InterAgency Board, and is a Senior Fellow with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute.… Read the rest

Cyber Security: A New Bug is Threatening Popular Websites. Are You at Risk?

April 16, 2014

An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug is one of of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. This bug has affected many popular websites and services (such as Gmail and Facebook) and could have already compromised and exposed your sensitive account information.

What is Heartbleed?

Heartbleed affects encryption technology designed to protect online accounts for email, websites, instant messaging and e-commerce. Websites running certain versions of the OpenSSL software were affected. The vulnerability in the software could allow someone to see your user name and PIN/Password.

Why is Heartbleed a big concern?

Many companies use this technology to conduct business with you over the Internet.

Since it has not been clear which sites have been affected, Mashable.com reached out to some of the most popular social, email, banking and commerce sites on the web for their answers and published their responses on the Heartbleed bug. Some of the companies that were vulnerable to the bug have already updated their servers with a security patch to fix the issue, but this doesn’t mean users don’t need to take action. Companies are advising customers to change their passwords as a precautionary measure.

To read the complete story and get all the information you need to protect your sensitive online information and data, visit: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

 More Resources:

Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) Holds Quarterly Meeting

April 4, 2014

ADAG April4

The Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) held its quarterly meeting at LSU’s Business Education Complex on Friday, April 4th. Members of ADAG gathered to discuss solutions and form working groups to tackle the various needs of pets and other animals that arise as a result of disasters and other emergencies, including: recovery policies, pet evacuations and sheltering, pet decontamination, pet evacuation mobile shelters and a pet identification plan.

Also included in the meeting was a presentation by Bruce Davis, Ph.D., Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Davis introduced a mobile image analysis tool, currently in development, which utilizes the functionality of currently available mobile tablets and smartphones and allows disaster responders to access pre and post disaster images as an intelligent map. The mobile tool permits search and rescue responders to gather photos and information of affected areas and animals and quickly update the system with the most current information in the shared system from their mobile devices.

Members of ADAG will also be participating in the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness’ (GOHSEP) full scale exercise on April 5th to test the disaster response capabilities of local, state and federal agencies. The Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) are active in the drill with a focus on animal rescue during disaster response.

The Animals in Disaster Advisory Group (ADAG) was formed by SDMI and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) to address these issues and lead a coalition of involved and interested organizations to reduce the harm to animals as a result of disasters. ADAG is made up of individuals representing local, state, and the federal government, academia, and private institutions, with expertise in emergency animal preparedness, response, and recovery matters. … Read the rest