NHMA 2016 Symposium Session Descriptions

8:30 am – 8:45 am:  Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA)

Presentation by Edward Thomas, Esq., President of NHMA

Ed Thomas discussed the purpose of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA) and the Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN), and how they bridge across cultural and social divides, bringing together individuals, organizations, engineers, planners, practitioners, community officials, attorneys, and others to understand and implement best practices in the realm of hazard mitigation and resilience. NHMA is a 501(c)(3) organization whose members are involved in all levels of resilience planning and preparation. Its four local initiatives are: The Living Mosaic; The Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN); the Disaster Risk Reduction Ambassador Curriculum; and outreach to non-traditional partners in order to achieve practical results in the realm of disaster resilience.  He summarized the concept of finding paths forward to overcome impediments and the importance of working together to achieve a safer, better future.

8:45 am – 9:45 am:  Models of Effective DRR Community Engagement

Jim Mullen, Specialist in Emergency Management, introduces Presenters David Vaughn and Chuck Wallace

For all the talk about motivating and sustaining local community action to reduce risks, there are often more examples of stalled efforts, or inaction at the local level that frustrate concerned community members, and also local government officials who understand the importance of reducing risks, but are stymied by internal political considerations of elected and appointed officials.

Two outstanding examples of how these obstacles have been surmounted in two jurisdictions, facing two different threats to public safety, will be presented in this session. David Vaughn will share his success in South Carolina; Chuck Wallace will describe how in Grays’ Harbor, Washington a local school district galvanized voters to approve and dedicate the first tsunami vertical evacuation structure in the nation.

Their achievements are all the more remarkable because the obstacles they encountered will resonate with anyone who has ever attempted to effect positive change at the local level with primarily local resources being the core element Simply stated, these stories are inspiring because their constituents are safer now because of successful local engagement, and they are worth examining because they are illustrations of successful methods which can be applied elsewhere.

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.:  Levees, Liability, and Mitigation

PowerPoint Presentation by Jim Murphy, National Policy Expert for Infrastructure, Dams/Levees for


Levees can help to reduce flood risk. However, in almost all situations the benefits levees provide come with an accompanying “COST” well beyond just the expense of constructing the flood control structure. Whenever a community/organization works with levees they will inevitably assume some additional obligations and/or liability. This session will encourage participants to understand and help identify these ancillary risks.