FEMA’s Building Science Disaster Support Program sends teams of experts to assess the performance of buildings, structures and community lifelines after disasters like extreme wind, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes.
These expert teams, called Mitigation Assessment Teams (MATs), help communities recovering from disasters answer questions like, “How do we build back better?” and “What can we do differently to prevent future damage?”
Hurricane Ian struck the Southwest Florida coast as a Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 28, 2022. It produced catastrophic storm surge, powerful winds, and unprecedented freshwater flooding that caused considerable damage throughout central and northern Florida and significant harm to the region's infrastructure and communities. It is estimated to be the costliest hurricane to strike Florida and the third costliest in United States history.
In January 2023, a full MAT was deployed to assess the performance of buildings to determine causes of damage and results of successful mitigation. Last month, FEMA released a Mitigation Assessment Team Report on the MAT’s findings, Hurricane Ian in Florida: Building Performance Observations, Recommendations, and Technical Guidance (FEMA P-2342) [PDF, 80 MB].
The 615-page report first summarizes the impact of Hurricane Ian and provides an overview of Florida’s building codes, standards, and regulations related to floods, wind, floodplain management, evacuation and sheltering. It then outlines the observations of the MAT during the field assessments carried out in Florida, organized into three areas: flooding, wind, and critical facilities. The report then draws 53 conclusions and makes 83 recommendations to improve building, utility and community resilience on the local and state levels.
The recommendations in the report are presented as guidance to the many stakeholders who are involved with the design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment in the state, as well as other regions impacted by hurricanes. These include federal, state, and local governments; building officials and floodplain administrators and regulators; the design and construction industry; building code and standard organizations; academia; emergency managers; building owners and operators; and any other stakeholders who can take action to mitigate damage from future natural hazard events.
In addition to the MAT report, FEMA published three new Recovery Advisories based on specific findings from its assessments of buildings after Hurricane Ian. The Advisories provide insights regarding building improvement opportunities. Recommendations in the Advisories are applicable to buildings experiencing similar issues and need not be limited to the state of Florida or to hurricanes.
The Recovery Advisories are included in Appendix B of the report and were also published as separate documents:
Access the report within FEMA’s Building Science Resource Library. The individually published Recovery Advisories are also available in the library.
The Department of Homeland Security, (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently released a series of reports offering a visionary look at the emerging threat landscape and opportunities on the horizon to tackle these threats head on.
This four-part Preparedness Series is designed to raise awareness of our unpredictable future and explore the role of science and technology in addressing future challenges posed by climate change, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies:
- Preparedness in Times of Rapid Change. This paper discusses the changing threat landscape, the unprecedented unpredictability of what’s next in technological advances, the complexity of our current and future world, and implications for how to protect the homeland. As the threats have evolved in recent years, the historical distinction between homeland and national security challenges has continued to blur. The rapidly evolving landscape of concerns is creating new demand for tools and training for those protecting the front lines.
- S&T/Harvard Climate Workshop: Opportunities for Improved Prevention and Response in the U.S. Arctic and Alaska. Extreme weather events have big implications for managing risks to lifeline functions such as public safety, transportation, energy, and healthcare. Impacts to the Arctic region and Alaska are being felt four times faster than other parts of the country. For the United States, the opening of the northern latitudes will have complex geopolitical consequences for protecting borders and waterways, patrol and rescue operations, communications, territorial and resource claims, and the resilience of critical infrastructures. This paper details opportunities for improved prevention and response in the U.S. Arctic and Alaska.
- Foundation Models at the Department of Homeland Security: Use Cases and Considerations. Considered the modern-day backbone of artificial intelligence (AI), a foundation model (FM) is a type of machine learning model that is trained on a broad set of general domain data which can then be used as a foundation for specialized AI applications. This analysis examines a host of homeland security mission use cases for FMs in new domains.
- Risks and Mitigation Strategies for Adversarial Artificial Intelligence Threats: A DHS S&T Study. This report introduces the concept of “adversarial AI” (AAI) and explores future AAI threats, risks, and mitigation strategies to help DHS develop a risk-informed approach to mitigating AAI threats and vulnerabilities.
The Preparedness Series is currently featured on DHS S&T’s Artificial Intelligence page. See DHS S&T’s Dec. 21 news release to learn more.
(Source: DHS S&T)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) National 911 Program will host a webinar in its State of 911 series on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, at 12 p.m. EST entitled Workforce evolution and statewide 911 recruitment campaigns.
Nationwide, 911 Answering Points are struggling to hire and retain staff. In this webinar, participants will hear directly from practitioners about their recruitment and retention strategies.
For the first part of this webinar, the director of Aurora 911 in Aurora, Colorado, will present her insights on the evolution of the 911 workforce, including how the workforce has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), challenging traditionalism and status quo, and how she is working toward change in her own center.
In the second part of the webinar, participant will hear from representatives in Minnesota and North Carolina about their statewide 911 recruitment campaigns. The goal of each campaign was to recruit candidates for 911 telecommunicator job openings, increase the applicant pool across each state, and draw awareness to these positions and their contribution to the community. Both states will share information on how to start an effective recruitment campaign and how their respective campaigns connected with job seekers to support local PSAPs.
The State of 911 webinar series is designed to provide useful information for the 911 stakeholder community about federal and state participation in the planning, design, and implementation of Next Generation 911, or NG911 systems. It includes real experiences from leaders utilizing these processes throughout the country. The recording and slide deck from every webinar in the series is posted online shortly after the event. Sign up for email alerts to be notified when upcoming webinars are announced.
Learn more and register for the Jan. 9 webinar at 911.gov.
(Source: National 911 Program)