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

On the Nine Year Anniversary of Katrina, SDMI Announces a Year Long Series looking back at the State of Disaster Management and how it has Changed Since Katrina

August 29, 2014

Hurricane Katrina, Thinking Back and Looking Ahead

August 29, 2014 marks the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.  This seminal event was actually a series of events that lasted weeks; cascades of consequences that wreaked havoc against best efforts and laid bare lapses in planning and preparedness.  Katrina devastated 90,000 square miles, local economies, and countless lives, killing some 1,836 souls.

Born as a result of Hurricane Katrina, Stephenson Disaster Management Institute begins a yearlong look at lessons learned, or not, since Hurricane Katrina as we start the countdown to the ten year anniversary.  We will host a variety of publications by leading subject matter experts over the next year looking back on the costly experiences of Hurricane Katrina and looking forward to what we can expect with the expected trends in climate change, coastal and urban population migration, aging infrastructure and other factors which influence disaster resiliency.

Although Hurricane Katrina will be a central point for examination, our focus will not be on Louisiana only.  Instead, we will examine how far we have come as a nation in dealing with the subject of disaster in terms of resiliency and surviving what is often a known and foreseeable risk.  We will culminate our yearlong look with a set of findings and recommendations.  It is our hope that what we will share over the next year will add to the ability of government, business, and private citizens to be better prepared to face the next Katrina like event.

We asked Bill Read, former Director of the National Hurricane Center and SDMI Senior Fellow, to give us his insights and observations, beginning with a look at critical infrastructure resilience on the gulf coast.

Tropical meteorologists’ ability to provide forecasts and warnings in advance of land falling tropical cyclones has increased significantly since 1990. 

Read the rest

Nine Years Since Katrina. SDMI & Senior Fellow, Bill Read, Discuss Hurricane Resiliency

August 29, 2014


Challenges in Achieving Hurricane Resiliency for Critical Infrastructure

Bill Read

Former Director, National Hurricane Center

Senior Fellow, Stephenson Disaster Management Institute



The word “resilience’ has gotten a lot of usage of late, particularly when in reference to recovery from disaster.  Resiliency means different things to different people.  The Oxford Dictionary defines resiliency as:

1.The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity:
‘nylon is excellent in wearability and resilience’

2. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness:
‘the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions’


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary is similar:
1. ‘the ability of a body to regain its original size and shape after being compressed, bent, or stretched: ELASTICITY’
2. ‘the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change’

The National Academy of Science (NAS) defines resilience as:

“One way to reduce the impacts of disasters on the nation and its communities is to invest in enhancing resilience–the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, National Academies of Science, 2012

For the purposes of this paper, I will use the NAS definition.

Tropical meteorologists’ ability to provide forecasts and warnings in advance of land falling tropical cyclones has increased significantly since 1990.  As the graph (Fig 1) shows, we currently provide a track forecast that is more accurate at 72 hours than it was at 24 hours in 1990.  While forecasting the strength of hurricanes has not enjoyed the same level of success, focused research is showing much promise for the coming decade.  The impacts from tropical cyclones; storm surge, destructive winds, and flooding rains, are forecast with more accuracy now due to advances in computing technology and better observing platforms such as satellites and Doppler radar. … 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. ” SDMI has already helped us with a major project involving debris planning for one of our large contracts and they were instrumental in introducing us to a key subcontractor. We believe their experience, knowledge, capabilities and network ability will be valuable to us. 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.… 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