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White House Recognizes Plan to Make America #HurricaneStrong

On May 10, in a White House statement, President Obama cited FLASH Partners for, “… launching a new 2016 national hurricane resilience initiative, #HurricaneStrong, through collaboration with FEMA, NOAA/National Weather Service, The Home Depot, and The Weather Channel.”

The statement was issued as part of the White House conference on community resilience with special focus on public and private sector efforts to promote strong buildings. The five key messages of the #HurricaneStrong campaign include:

  • Personal Safety - Know your evacuation zone
  • Financial Security - Have an insurance check up
  • Family Preparedness - Build a disaster supply kit
  • Damage Prevention - Strengthen your home
  • Community Service - Help your neighbor

“Collaboration is the key to the breakout success of #HurricaneStrong, said FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson. “So we are very honored by the Presidential acknowledgement of our efforts. This recognition is part of the unprecedented, continued commitment by this White House to the cause of strong buildings and resilience overall.”

The statement included the Presidential decree designating May as National Building Safety Month to “recognize and pay tribute to those who ensure the safety and resilience of our Nation's buildings.” FLASH partners from the American Institute of Architects, Florida International University, International Code Council, National Institute of Building Sciences, and Verisk were commended for their programs and efforts to promote strong and safe buildings as well.

FLASH Gets Geeky with The Weather Channel

On Sunday, May 15, FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson joined the lineup on WXGeeks, the popular The Weather Channel show hosted by Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Director of UGA Atmospheric Sciences Program and Full Professor in the Department of Geography, award-winning author and former NASA Research Meteorologist.

The 30-minute episode featured conversations about the beginnings of the FLASH Partnership, the upcoming hurricane season, and programs like Turn Around Don’t Drown, #NoFuelNoFire, #HurricaneStrong, and the award-winning StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes experience at Epcot®.

“Appearing on WXGeeks was a great experience as Dr. Shepherd is not only a brilliant scientist, but he has an engaging interview style that brings fresh perspective to tough topics like disaster resilience,” said Leslie. “His audience of avid weather fans are natural allies for the disaster safety movement, so we deeply appreciate the opportunity to tell our story.”

NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour Takes #HurricaneStrong to New Heights

It’s official. The hashtag #HurricaneStrong is now the call to arms for the 2016 hurricane season. Impressive preliminary analytics tell the story—9,900 Tweets, 3,000 contributors, 57,000,000 timeline deliveries, and audience reach exceeding 15,500,000.

And the #HurricaneStrong news and social media conversation is growing daily. The biggest lift came during the 2016 NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour (HAT) when Legacy Partners combined forces with NOAA’s National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center, and the U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters to help tell the story of hurricane safety and science.

Beginning on Monday, May 16, the tour team covered five cities in five days, with crowds in San Antonio, Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, and Naples. VIP’s energized the events, including, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate; NWS Deputy Director Laura Furgione; USAA Property and Casualty President Alan Krapf; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; and Florida Governor Rick Scott.

The HAT presented key themes to leaders, news media, schools, and the general public while hosting hurricane hunter aircraft tours and presentations. NHC and University of Rhode Island broadcast a webinar from Galveston that reached 10,000 schoolchildren with simulated “live tracking” of a mock hurricane, leveraging the new hurricanestrong.org site.

National network and social media coverage by The Weather Channel’s Michael Lowry and Jen Watson drove national interest, and carried the themes forward to help families prepare. Features like this from the Times Picayune made the case for advance evacuation planning and more.

Legacy Partners signed on as NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors and provided invaluable support for #HurricaneStrong. On Sunday, May 15, The Home Depot presented DIY hurricane preparedness workshops in approximately 700 coastal stores, and partners anchored outreach efforts at each stop, including USAA (San Antonio), Portland Cement Association (Galveston), Kohler Generators (New Orleans), Simpson Strong Tie (Mobile), and State Farm (Naples).

According to NHC Director Dr. Rick Knabb, "This year’s Hurricane Awareness Tour was our biggest and best ever, and there is no doubt that the addition of #HurricaneStrong was a key reason. Our goal was to focus public attention on what individuals and families need to do in advance to get ready for the next hurricane, and to take those messages far beyond the cities that we visited. This innovative outreach campaign ensured that we did just that."

The campaign will continue throughout the rest of the season until November with special events at baseball games, hurricane expositions, conferences, and online. All can join by posting a picture on Facebook or Twitter using #HurricaneStrong, and striking the campaign’s signature “pose” to help spread the word.

(Editor’s Note: Click here to read the National Hurricane Center Blog, “Inside the Eye”, with features for each theme of #HurricaneStrong.)

2016 Earthquake Conference Draws Record Attendance, Ignites Global Interest, and Advances Resilience Along the Way

FLASH, FEMA, Conference Presenting Sponsor California Earthquake Authority, and a host of earthquake partners from public, private and nonprofit organizations joined forces May 4 – 6 to present the 2016 National Earthquake Conference (NEC) in Long Beach, California.

The quadrennial Conference brought together more than 370 experts on the scientific and practical challenges wrought by earthquakes, tsunamis, and catastrophic risk in general. The crowd of academia, analysts, businesses, communicators, elected officials, emergency managers, engineers, experts, insurers, journalists, modelers, product manufacturers, psychologists, responders, scientists, volunteers, and more, addressed the questions posed in our theme, “What’s New, What’s Next, What’s Your Role in Building a National Strategy?”

The first keynoter, Dr. Tom Jordan of USC Southern California Earthquake Center (global headquarters of the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill) answered the question of “What’s New?” with a riveting presentation indicating that, “…the springs on the San Andreas system have been wound very, very tight, and the southern San Andreas Fault, in particular, looks like it’s locked, loaded and ready to go.”

A Los Angeles Times news story by Rong-Gong Lin featured the insights, and intense news interest quickly followed. The delegation of news representatives helped partners and presenters share information on building codes, outreach, safety, science, and overall innovation in the field of earthquake resilience.

The swell of news and social media coverage also inspired a fresh look at budgets, policies, and funding of the Earthquake Early Warning System (EEWS), currently in beta testing in parts of California, Oregon, and Washington. On May 16 in another Los Angeles Times story also by Rong-Gong Lin, California Governor Jerry Brown announced $10 million would be allocated by the state for implementation of the EEWS. “This is going to be a huge boost to the build-out of the system. The infusion of state funding will allow us to surge forward,” said Doug Given, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Early Warning Coordinator. “We have the intent of doing limited public rollout by 2018.”

NEC attendees represented 33 states and three U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico). Featured speakers included Michael Blanpied, USGS Associate Program Coordinator; Leslie Chapman-Henderson, FLASH President and CEO; Buddy Combs, Oklahoma Insurance Department Assistant General Counsel; Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator; Mark Ghilarducci, California OES Director; Doug Given, USGS Earthquake Early Warning National Coordinator; Jack Hayes, NEHRP Director, Laurie Johnson, ACEHR Chair; Dr. Lucy Jones, USGS Emerita; Patrick Otellini, City and County of San Francisco Chief Resiliency Officer; and Glenn Pomeroy, California Earthquake Authority CEO. For a full list of speakers and topics, click here.

The landmark NEC would not have been possible without generous support from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), FEMA, State Farm Insurance Companies, OneConcern, Inc., Kinemetrics, Simpson Strong-Tie, Seismic Warning Systems, and the International Code Council (ICC).

A conference video reel, report, and new YouTube.com channel with presentations will be available later this summer.

New FEMA “Ready Business” Workshop Talks Tornado as Real Storms Swirl

On Thursday, May 26, FEMA HQ, FEMA Region VII, FLASH, and Johnson County Emergency Management presented the first FEMA Ready Business Workshop in Olathe, KS at the Johnson County Administration Building.

More than 80 representatives from organizations including AIG, American Red Cross, Cisco Systems, Garmin, Kansas City Power & Light, Saint Luke’s Health Systems, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Sprint, UPS, Walgreens, and Waste Management attended the workshop, which focused on the severe wind and tornado threat to the region.

With FEMA Region VII’s Michael Cappannari leading the workshop, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Robeson, and FEMA Region VII Administrator Beth Freeman welcomed the participants. Leslie Chapman-Henderson next introduced the audience to the new Ready Business Toolkit and Workshop series.

National Weather Service representatives Andy Bailey and Jenni Laflin provided an overview of local severe wind and tornado threats. Next, Moore, Oklahoma, City Councilman/State Farm Agent Terry Cavnar shared the new Back-to-Business Self-Assessment tool, along with a presentation on his personal experience with multiple, deadly tornadoes. Councilman Cavnar included a compelling video, Rebuilding Moore - The Journey Begins, to help businesses understand the human and economic toll of devastating tornadoes.

The morning session concluded with panels of subject matter experts in STAFF, SURROUDNINGS, SYSTEMS, STRUCTURE, and SERVICE describing best practices for business readiness. Alisa Pacer, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator from Johnson County Community College stressed the importance of refreshing tornado procedures through drilling, and highlighted her “Building Emergency Leaders” (BEL) program that trains students and staff to help move the public into or away from structures as emergency conditions arise.

The afternoon session coincided with a real world tornado warning in the Greater Kansas City community as the group moved through a tabletop exercise led by Al Garrison of FEMA Region VII.

Workshop evaluations earned the presenting partners high marks, and attendee feedback will guide development of the future severe wind and tornado workshops as well as upcoming inland flooding and power outage toolkit iterations.

For more information about Ready Business Workshops, contact the FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division or Tim Smail.

VOADS Embrace Disaster Recovery with Resilience in Mind

On Sunday, May 22, FLASH Senior Vice President Tim Smail headed to Minneapolis to team up with Legacy Partner Portland Cement Association (PCA), and National VOAD members at the 2016 National VOAD Conference – Up North: Set Your Sights on Collaboration.

Tim presented “Building Back Better” training to more than 50 attendees from the various VOAD member organizations. The training highlights Volunteer Construction Guides developed through cooperation with FEMA Building Science Branch to highlight mitigation techniques that can be incorporated during the long-term recovery phase of a disaster.

The following day, Tim and PCA Director of Marketing Strategy and Positioning Donn Thompson presented a status report on the Resilient Design Guide during the Disaster Housing Committee meeting. The presentation focused on the current wood-frame and upcoming concrete guides with a discussion of how the committee could use the Guide protocol to highlight leading practices in repair and rebuilding.

BASF Launches 2016 Sweepstakes

Would you like to protect your home from Mother Nature and the forces of wind and water without having to pay the high costs of reroofing? BASF is offering a new sweepstakes, “Is Your Money Going Through the Roof?” to show how Closed Cell Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation applied to the underside of a roof can help. The method for this “Resilient Roof Upgrade” seals the roof deck to create a barrier from water penetration and strengthens it from wind damage by gluing it together.

FLASH will catch up with the 2015 sweepstakes winner later this year to document and share the dramatic results and savings after months with the new system. For more information, or to enter the 2016 sweepstakes, visit hurricanestrong.org.

Newsroom Now Available at FLASH.org

Just in time for the 2016 Hurricane Season, FLASH is debuting the FLASH Newsroom. The FLASH Outreach Committee developed the strategy for the newsroom with insight from former CNN Correspondent/FLASH Board Member John Zarrella, “The media wants to come to a website and find what they need to put together an entire story from background information to video and expert interviews.”

The newsroom showcases partnership initiatives, and provides a one-stop resource for journalists, including:

  • News Releases
  • The Partners - In the News
  • Digital Library - Subject Matter Experts (Email zoe@flash.org to join this lineup)
  • Disaster Safety 101 Tips
  • Photographs
  • Story Ideas
  • Blogs
  • Enews

Many thanks to the Outreach Committee members for their support, input, and hard work on this first new phase of the new FLASH digital presence.

June 17 QuakeSmart Workshop Returns to the Inland Empire

The next QuakeSmart Preparedness Workshop will be held on Friday, June 17 at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The event will be the tenth workshop in the series.

QuakeSmart returns to its roots for this event, as the first offering of this popular workshop took place at the Simpson Strong-Tie Training Center in Riverside California in September of 2014. Since that time, QuakeSmart has crisscrossed the country with nine events in 20 months.

If you would like to attend, participate, or learn more about the Rancho Cucamonga QuakeSmart event, contact Barbara Harrison, or register here.

Texas State Collaborative to Meet on June 29

As historic flooding continues to unfold in Texas, planning is underway for the next meeting of the Texas State Collaborative (TSC) in Austin on Wednesday, June 29 at the Texas State Capitol Extension. A detailed agenda is coming soon, so save the date to join FLASH partners in Austin. If you would like to recommend an agenda item or a speaker for the upcoming gathering, please contact Barbara Harrison or register here.