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Don’t Wait. Communicate. – National Preparedness Month is Here

September is National Preparedness Month, an annual awareness event sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This year’s campaign theme is Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today urging people to take action now by making a plan with your community, your family, and for your pets.

Join the FLASH partnership on the road to readiness by signing up for America’s PrepareAthon! - a grassroots campaign created to take action, be counted, and spread the word of preparedness. You can show your support by organizing or joining a preparedness event in your community on September 30, National PrepareAthon! Day, and demonstrate your support for this important campaign by downloading the National Preparedness Month Toolkits and social media messages today at ready.gov.

FLASH and The Weather Channel Talk Disaster Resilience, Building Codes, & Wildfire Mitigation

On August 18, FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson joined FLASH Leadership Partner Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel’s morning show, AMHQ, to discuss wildfire mitigation and the state of building codes ten years after Hurricane Katrina and wildfire mitigation.

Jim asked Leslie if “we [are] doing enough in this country to build to our natural disasters?” She responded, “not yet – but we’re working towards it.” She pointed to states like Louisiana and Mississippi that have adopted their first residential building codes since Hurricane Katrina. She went on to note that while the Mississippi code doesn’t cover the entire state yet, they have made important progress.

In light of the ongoing wildfire emergencies out West, they examined wildfire mitigation options, highlighting fire-resistive building materials, defensible space, spark arrestors, mesh screening around chimneys and under decks, smart design choices, and the many FLASH digital wildfire mitigation resources.

Following the interview, visits to flash.org increased, especially wildfire mitigation assets and the Wildfire Wizard tool.

Mitigation Equals Fun as the Webster Family Gets StormStruck

Congratulations to Matt, Karen, Cam, and CJ Webster of Waxhaw, North Carolina for winning the official StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes sweepstakes. The Webster family celebrated their good luck with a vacation during the week of August 17 where they brought their infectious enthusiasm and high energy to the parks and venues.

First, they tackled Epcot where they experienced StormStruck firsthand. Project Manager Zoe LaPointe hosted them for the day, showing them the wonderful world of disaster safety inside the venue as well as the new FLASH gaming App, Last House Standing.

As his sons’ Boy Cub Scout troop leader, Matt was especially inspired by the interaction and fun used to teach the message of disaster safety and mitigation. After returning home, he stated, “we were so impressed with the StormStruck display. We have gone over some of this with Cub Scouts [in the past], but the interactive games really seemed to stick with them.”

Recognizing how StormStruck offers relevant lessons for every age level, he continued, “growing up in coastal North Carolina, I had been taught to tape windows. During the main show, we learned that it is not such a great idea. I also learned about what to look for in trees for the landscape that were more tolerant of the wind.”

According to Karen, “The display in Epcot Innoventions explains and shows how hurricane force winds can quickly tear off your roof, and offers ways to secure your home to make it more structurally sound, and that safe rooms might someday save your life. Our boys learned quickly through play what you might need in the event of an emergency and that you should be prepared before the need arises, all this through creative and modern technology.”

The sweepstakes is sponsored by the generous StormStruck sponsors, Simpson Strong-Tie and State Farm Insurance Companies along with the Walt Disney Company, and is offered each year in conjunction with National Weatherperson’s Day. This year’s contest drew more than 110,000 entries, and celebrated the 2015 National Weatherperson of the Year Max Mayfield.

Be sure to follow the StormStruck Facebook fan page to learn more about the Webster’s and National Weatherperson's Day through photos and updates.

Disaster Resilience Rising Means the Time is Right

On August 12, FLASH released its latest building code commentary paper, Disaster Resilience Rising Means the Time is Rightoffering bold recommendations to strengthen the U.S. building code system through innovation. The paper is receiving extensive interest from news media and policymakers alike, including features in the Claims Journal and Green Builder Media, among others.

With insights driven by the collective experience of FLASH partners, the commentary discussed the pattern of communities pledging to “Build Back Better” after disasters, but missing out on pre-disaster opportunities to embrace the most fundamental element of disaster resilience—updating, adopting, and enforcing strong building codes.

“An uncompromising system of strong, continuously updated building codes with consistent enforcement is essential to our country’s pursuit of disaster resilience,” said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “However, some states are not keeping pace, or worse, they are losing ground. We must use codes to innovate the way we build, so that we reduce the mounting human and financial cost of disasters.”

Over two decades post-Andrew, and one post-Katrina, FLASH praises the communities who have adopted and implemented a strong building code system, while reminding us that such a system is the foundation for resilience, but only when it is in place before disaster strikes.

Read the full commentary here.

BASF Raises Resilience by Protecting Roofs

Through November 30, FLASH Legacy Partner BASF - The Chemical Company is offering a resilient roof upgrade sweepstakes for one lucky family. Winners will receive a treatment of Closed-Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam (ccSPF) to seal the roof deck, making it stronger in wind, drier in storms, and energy efficient every day.

“The roof is one of the most crucial elements in the overall security of a home in a weather event,” said Engineer and FLASH SVP Tim Smail. “A resilient roof upgrade provides peace of mind, and can help keep families safe and secure no matter where they live.”

The sweepstakes prize includes a ccSPF insulation installment, and meal and lodging accommodations for the date of installment. Visit the Great Hurricane Blowout to enter online, and view the full sweepstakes rules and eligibility requirements prior to entering.

Save the Date – 2016 National Earthquake Conference Set for May 4 - 6

Mark your calendars for the 2016 National Earthquake Conference (NEC) May 4 to May 6 in Long Beach, CA. Offered once every four years, the NEC provides a unique opportunity to share the best practices for outreach and education; building science, and code advancement; the latest advances in earthquake science; and policy initiatives aimed at improving resiliency.

The conference is designed for a diverse range of attendees, including academia, building code experts, design/build professionals, earthquake managers, emergency managers, first responders, geologists, insurance professionals, local and state governments, social science practitioners, USGS leadership, volunteers, and many more.

The NEC will be held at the newly renovated Hilton Long Beach, and hotel and meeting registration will be available soon.

Sponsorship opportunities are now available, so please contact NEC Project Manager, Barbara Harrison, at barbara@flash.org.

Arkansas Ups Earthquake Awareness and Safety with New Billboard Campaign

Last month, thanks to support from FEMA, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management launched a new billboard campaign promoting the lifesaving earthquake safety advice, Drop, Cover and Hold On!

“This billboard campaign was an opportunity to target Northeast Arkansas to promote general earthquake awareness as well as ShakeOut drill participation. This is the area where most of Arkansas’ risk of earthquake lies and we think it’s an excellent way to reach the largest number of citizens with this important lifesaving information,” said Katie Belknap, Arkansas Earthquake Program Manager.

To learn more about partnership opportunities in your state, contact FLASH Project Manager Barbara Harrison at barbara@flash.org.

FLASH Forward Shines a Light on UF Roofing Research

Through partnership with University of Florida and NOAA Sea Grant, FLASH Forward recently facilitated a roofing industry meeting in Orlando where leading academic and industry representatives joined the effort, including IBHS and FLASH Legacy Partners from the International Code Council (ICC), Simpson Strong-Tie, and State Farm. The gathering focused on the latest progress toward a research goal to develop a repair technology for partially unsealed asphalt shingles.

The highlight of the meeting included a presentation by UF’s Dr. David Prevatt on the background research used to identify the roofing issue trend, and a demonstration of the prototype technology. Dr. Tim Reinhold of IBHS provided additional insights with a presentation on his roofing research at the IBHS lab.

Attendee feedback was excellent and will direct the effort as it moves forward to the next phase. As one of the participants stated in the closing remarks, “a technology for repairing unsealed asphalt shingles will have tremendous benefits, including shrinking damage paths and costly losses from future wind events.”

Dr. Prevatt has been leading this research for the last five years with grants from the Southeast Region Research Initiative (SERRI) and the Florida Sea Grant. FLASH Forward will continue working with UF and Sea Grant to incorporate the feedback into the prototype tool for industry innovation, involvement, and implementation.

Show Your Support for Disaster Resilience by Sponsoring the 2016 Annual Conference

Join our sponsors, Huber Engineered Woods LLC, International Code Council, and the American Institute of Architects to help underwrite the 17th FLASH Annual Conference – The Next Generation of Resilience, January 27 – 29, 2016, at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek. Through sponsorship, your organization will be recognized by attendees including the Nation's foremost voices in the disaster safety and resilience movement. The program will feature:

  • The Next Generation of Codes/Standards/Policies
  • The Next Generation of Residential Construction
  • The Next Generation of Outreach/Education
  • Creating a Disaster Resilient Generation

The conference will also include a special tribute luncheon honoring the 2016 National Weatherperson of the Year, celebrating the critical role meteorologists play in advancing disaster safety and resilience. Past recipients of this distinguished award include Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel and Former National Hurricane Center Director/WPLG Hurricane Specialist Max Mayfield.

Conference sponsorship and registration information can be found at flashannualconference.org or by emailing Sarah@flash.org. Take advantage of special rates for a limited time by registering prior to October 17, 2015.