Member Update- January 19 (MLK)


MEMBER UPDATE January 19, 2015

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A Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Message from NHMA President Ed Thomas:


One of the most significant aspects of NHMA is our commitment to underserved populations, who so often are disproportionately afflicted by the results of human failure to properly and safely design for foreseeable natural events.

On this, the holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is appropriate to give special attention to the serious and continuing problem of how society often externalizes the costs of development activity to underserved populations.  There is a great article in today’s New York Times describing an ongoing effort by a professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point to bring this message home to the cadets he is helping train. That article is well worth reading and is available here.

Understanding how all too often society also increases the toll of future disasters by externalizing the true costs of many community development activities, including using the usual practices to construct shopping centers, bridges, roads, homes, and more, is absolutely essential to achieving our goal of Disaster Risk Reduction. Attorney Lynsey Rae Johnson and I wrote an article for the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) about using recent court rulings as an opportunity to promote safe development and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Father of the nonviolent struggle for Indian Independence, Great moralist and Attorney Mohandas K. Gandhi tremendously influenced the writings and thoughts of Dr. King. In our article, Attorney Johnson and I point out that Gandhi wrote that the idea of not using your property to harm others is fundamental to morality and community harmony. This concept of Safe Development or No Adverse Impact is also a maxim of law and fundamental to understanding property rights.  The Thomas-Johnson article for ELI is also worth a look, and available on the American Bar Association website here.

A note on NHMA/FEMA Cooperating Technical Partnership by Susan Garner

NHMA, with grant support from FEMA, is promoting hazard risk reduction through connecting local practitioners, providing educational resources, and furthering the knowledge of best practices. Please see the two links below for more information on this effort.  The first is a briefing about the partnership, including the Disaster Risk Reduction Ambassador Study Program.  The second is a draft version of NHMA’s safe room report recently submitted to FEMA.  We encourage you to share comments with us via email,

2015 Disaster Risk Reduction brief, NHMA/FEMA collaborative partnership

Overview of what’s to come this year with NHMA’s work in Disaster Risk Reduction.  With assistance from FEMA, NHMA is pleased to develop the DRR Ambassador Study Program as our flagship initiative.

Hide From the Wind: Tornado Safe Rooms in Central Oklahoma

NHMA report elucidates the path taken towards a safe room program that has protected thousands in the United States who face a severe risk of tornadic activity.  Additionally, it provides examples and analysis of public perception of risk and preparedness and implications for larger application.

Things of Interest…

A Holistic Approach to Community Disaster Resilience Webinar, January 30, 12:00-1:00 PM CST.

NHMA Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee presents free community disaster resilience webinar with Dr. John Kiefer from the University of New Orleans.

MA International Social Work and Community Development at Durham University, UK

Available as part-time or full-time program. The program will give students advanced knowledge about the theory and practice of social work and community development in an international context.

APA Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation

Recovery news, programs, model ordinances, case studies, and symposium information as well as a project rationale from the American Planning Association.

Articles & Editorials…

Soil Moisture Tracking Satellite Ready To Launch This Month

NASA’s new satellite will provide information to improve our knowledge of water, climate over land, as well as water-related hazards.

20 years after Kobe quake, world rethinks disaster risk

The 20th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake, this writer reflects on the growing threat to life and economic well being posed by seismic activity in hazard-prone locations around the world.

Study shows ageing farmers skeptical of climate change, underestimate heat threat

Australian study indicates some farmers underestimate threat of climate change effects.

10 cities aiming for 100 percent clean energy
10 cities, including 4 in the US, work towards energy resilience.

Parched by drought, cities look to tap the ocean

Some in California see desalination as a solution to water shortages, but others are concerned about the environmental impacts.

Note to our members:

With your member support and involvement, we look forward to continuing the promotion of natural hazard risk reduction and climate adaptation through a Whole Community approach.  Please consider supporting this mission by maintaining your membership (which can be renewed here) or through a tax-deductible donation (which can be done here).  If you prefer to donate via check, please download this form.

Please remember to send any mitigation related announcements, articles, resources, and job postings to for inclusion in our updates.

-Susan Garner