Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

FLASH 2016 Annual Conference: “The Next Generation of Resilience” Report and Video Now Available

More than 150 public, private, and government leaders joined creative professionals in Orlando January 27-29 for the 2016 FLASH Annual Conference: The Next Generation of Resilience. This year’s event included new and longtime resilience advocates alike for another historic gathering. (View video)

As the Gold Conference Sponsor, BASF Vice President, Performance Materials/FLASH Director Erika Peterman delivered an inspirational welcome and set the tone by sharing a new video showcasing Disaster Durable Solutions. Next, FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson recognized longstanding as well as new partners in the disaster safety and resilience movement. New partners include the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Florida International University (FIU), Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), and James Cook University, a first “I-FLASH”, International Academic Partner in Queensland, Australia.

Leslie Chapman-Henderson’s “state-of-the-state” President’s Report paved the way for Thursday’s keynote address by Bryan Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and President of the National Emergency Management Association. Director Koon reviewed disaster events of 2015, and delivered an environmental scan on positive resilience policy ahead in 2016.

We leave here knowing who the force multipliers are, who the people are that can amplify these messages and truly have the greatest impact. – Roy Wright, FEMA

Creating a Disaster-Resilient Generation

Unique Visions President and FLASH Director Joe Tankersley shared good news as well as he kicked off the panel discussion, Creating a Disaster-Resilient Generation, moderated by Arthur Parks, State Farm P&C Underwriting Director. He cited the recent study showing that guests who visited StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes, gained critical knowledge, retained the knowledge after a 12-month period, and most importantly, that more than 50% surveyed took action to improve preparedness and home strength as a result of what they learned.

Panelist Amber Larkin, Owner of Nth Degree Design and Visual FX, showed attendees how to take empowerment learning to the next level with new virtual reality and augmented reality technology. She also described the Last House Standing App development. Panelist Erik Salna, Associate Director of the FIU Wall of Wind, shared how FIU is using competition to engage the next generation in disaster-safety learning with the Wall of Wind’s high school mitigation challenge competition.

Empowerment [is the] motivational key prompting participants to take preparatory action against severe natural events. – Joe Tankersley, Unique Visions

Rebuilding Resilient in Breezy Point

Senior Director of Market Development at Portland Cement Association Donn Thompson moderated the next panel, Rebuilding Resilient in Breezy Point, and showcased the upcoming post-Sandy demonstration project featuring resilient and sustainable construction. A new Resilient Design Guide, focused on residential concrete construction, will be developed as part of the project.

BASF Project Manager/Panelist Joel May observed that we need to “create a simple process to build resilience into a home.” Panelists Illya Azaroff, +lab architects, Deane Evans of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Mike Oates of Huber Engineered Wood echoed his point.

We have to be careful that we do not fall back into [the kind of] building that would put us in danger. – Illya Azaroff, +lab architects

The Next Generation of Residential Construction

To explore this matter further, Ed Laatsch, FEMA’s Director of Planning, Safety & Building Science Division, moderated The Next Generation of Residential Construction. Panelist Larry Rowland of Lehigh Hanson Cement took the podium to give examples of resilient-ready residential construction, pointing out that FEMA recommends concrete construction to protect against flood damage, windborne missiles, terrorism, and fire. “It’s the responsibility of state and local jurisdictions to adopt and enforce building codes,” Rowland reminded conference attendees.

Dr. David O. Prevatt, Associate Professor, University of Florida, shared with attendees his US-patent-pending product designed to address performance problems of asphalt shingle roofing. Prevatt is just one example of a researcher looking for creative mitigation solutions for residential construction. T. Reed Miller, Coordinator of Implementation and Education at the Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed participants how MIT’s CSHub is working to include hazard estimates as a critical piece of life-cycle planning for home building in disaster-vulnerable areas.

Building codes are our first line of defense to increase resilience. – Zack Schmiesing, Verisk Insurance Solutions

Smart and Resilient Homes: How Drones, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Technology Will Make Resilience Automatic for Homeowners & Insurers Alike

Kristina Tomasetti, Strategic Innovation Director, USAA joined the conference via Skype to share how USAA is using innovative drone technology in disaster zones, and how they are working to remove barriers and increase data benefits while balancing privacy and other concerns. USAA is a recognized innovator in this arena, citing the potential benefits for their members, the insurance industry, and the catastrophe response community overall.

@HankHodde - USAA using drones for disaster damage assessments. Really forward thinking! – Hank Hodde, NOAA

Resilience Blackboard Report

The 2015-2016 FLASH Partnership Scholars infused the Conference with energy and inspiration through panel and poster presentations featuring their resilience research. This year’s scholarship class included doctoral candidates Pedro Fernandez, University of Florida; Barry Dewitt, Carnegie Mellon University; Nnenia Campbell, University of Colorado Boulder; Gholamreza Amirinia, Florida State University; Audra Kiesling, Clemson University; Alaurah Moss, Duke University; Trent Vogelgesang, University of Florida; Ehssan Amir Sayyafi, Florida International University; and Pataya Scott, Texas Tech University.

The Next Generation of Resilient Communities

Hank Hodde of the Gulf Coast NOAA Office for Coastal Management provided a roadmap for protecting the next generation of coastal communities from severe weather changes. David Vaughn, Professor of Practice at Clemson University; Rachel Minnery, Director of Built Environment Policy for AIA; Home Consultant Eleanor Kitzman; and event moderator FLASH Director Dr. Forrest Masters, Associate Dean for Research and Facilities at the University of Florida, joined Hodde to discuss best practices for the future of resilient communities.

Hodde shared NOAA’s Digital Coastal Flood Exposure tool, which allows communities to look at the implications of sea level rise, conduct risk and vulnerability assessments, and develop opportunities for community engagement.

Vaughn hopes to create an institutional framework that can be replicated nationwide via existing programs such as Silver Jackets, Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC), and the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN).

AIA’s Rachel Minnery shared perspectives on public safety from the architectural design community, while Eleanor Kitzman echoed the importance of good design choices and careful implementation of known mitigation practices for homeowners.

Escalating, shifting hazards plus human migration are creating vulnerable populations. – David Vaughn, Clemson University

2016 National Weatherperson of the Year

In a special tribute section of the conference, FLASH named KABB-TV Chief Meteorologist Alex Garcia as National Weatherperson of the Year (View video) for his unconditional dedication to his viewers and community before, during, and after severe weather events. 

According to Tim Smith, Chief Meteorologist at KRGV Channel 5 News in Weslaco, Texas, “Alex Garcia exhibits the qualities and character that all of us in this field should strive to attain. His passion for weather is exceeded only by his drive to make our communities and nation more weather-ready.

Former recipients include former National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield and The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore.             

I challenge you to stand up for your communities. When the public is educated about disaster safety, they make better decisions. – Alex Garcia, KABB TV

Meeting the Demands of Flooding from Mitigation to Insurance

Leadership Partner Bill Read, Hurricane Specialist and Former Director of the National Hurricane Center, teamed up with FEMA’s Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, and Chad Berginnis, Executive Director for the Association of State Floodplain Managers for Friday’s keynote panel, From Mitigation to Insurance: Handling Flood Demands.

Diving deep into the topic of flooding, Read and Wright’s treatment of the subject ranged from the South Carolina Thousand-year flood to the Texas tradition of flash flooding. Citing statistics from the fourth worst flood in Texas history, Read compared the unprecedented amount of water dumped on that day to the size of 482 astrodomes. "When bayous hit flood status, flooding of major highways is occurring," Read said, and that’s a good reason to stay home or move to higher ground. "People want to know what depth of water would look like and what they can do about it," said Roy Wright.

The single greatest way an individual can recover from an event involving flooding is if they have flood insurance. – Roy Wright, FEMA

The Next Generation of Outreach and Education

Innovative thinking was the hallmark of The Next Generation of Outreach and Education. From America’s PrepareAthon! to the upcoming National Earthquake Conference, participants learned first-hand about a range of opportunities to become involved in preparedness and mitigation. Moderated by FLASH Director and Kohler Senior Project Manager Melanie Tydrich, the panel discussion included experts from FEMA, the building community, and FLASH.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Individual and Community Preparedness Division Director Helen Lowman invited listeners to stand up and “be counted in a unified national movement toward greater national preparedness” as part of America’s PrepareAthon! Kia Ricchi, Florida builder and owner/operator of TheContractress.com, gave attendees a glimpse into consumer protection challenges that can prevent success in building projects.

FLASH Project Manager Barbara Harrison highlighted unique opportunities and new outreach tools and programs, including initiatives such as QuakeSmart.

We need to build a narrative of preparedness in our nation. We need to make preparedness a topic of conversation in every city of the nation. – Helen Lowman, FEMA

Hurricane Hunting – A Trip Through the Eye of the Hurricane

National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb gave attendees a snapshot look at the 2015 hurricane season and then joined former CNN Correspondent John Zarrella as he carried attendees on a Trip Though the Eye of the Hurricane with veteran Hurricane Hunters Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, Chief Meteorologist for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and Dr. Jim McFadden, Chief of Programs and Projects, NOAA Aircraft Operations Center.

I look forward to the FLASH Annual Conference almost more than any other meeting I go to all year. – Dr. Rick Knabb, National Hurricane Center

The Next Generation of Codes, Standards, and Policies

FLASH Director Mike Rimoldi, Hillsborough County Building Official, moderated the final panel discussion, The Next Generation of Codes, Standards, and Policies. Panelist Michael Grayson, an assistant professor at The Citadel, addressed the aggregation of code-plus guidelines for contractors, developers, and homeowners in order to boost community resilience. He emphasized that when it comes to building projects, protecting life is more important than the price tag.

Sara Yerkes, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the International Code Council, shared current building code trends and challenges, while Ed Laatsch contrasted California’s and Tennessee’s earthquake codes and practices in a compelling Tale of Two Seismic States.

Don't fear the code! The code is our friend. – Mike Rimoldi, Hillsborough County, Florida

Next Steps on the Road to Resilience

Attendees rate the FLASH Annual Conference as a “must-do” gathering because it not only begins productive work in support of disaster resilience, but it sustains it throughout the year. You can learn more through the agendavideo, photo slideshow, and Twitter conversation at #FLASHAC.

The FLASH Annual Conference is an incubator for how to propel resilience ideas along, and after 18 years, we have an incredible track record of things that have been accomplished, that have been put in place, and that are helping families right now. – Leslie Chapman-Henderson, FLASH

Many thanks to Gold Conference Sponsor BASF, and all of our sponsors who helped underwrite this important gathering, including Huber Engineered Woods LLC, Portland Cement Association, American Institute of Architects, Green Builder Media, International Code Council, ISO, Lehigh Hanson Cement, NFPA, and Wooten Metal.