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#HurricaneStrong Takes Savannah by Storm

On May 14, FLASH team members Barbara and Shelby Harrison joined Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner and Leadership Partner Ralph T. Hudgens, Legacy Partner The Home Depot, and Chatham County Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) to present the 17th Annual Savannah Area Hurricane Preparedness Expo. The popular annual event enjoyed another banner year of partner participation and public turnout with a focus on the five #HurricaneStrong key messages: personal safety, financial security, family preparedness, damage prevention, and community service.

Now in its 17th year, the event features educational exhibits, preparedness giveaways, and seminars on how to strengthen homes against hurricanes. Legacy Partners from the National Weather Service, State Farm, and USAA anchored the event with educational materials for attendees to take home and share with family and friends.

While fun and festive, the event brings serious attention to critical issues. For example, FEMA estimates that only 13 percent of Savannah homeowners are covered by flood insurance, an essential tool for resilience. According to City of Savannah Floodplain Manager Tom McDonald, “That’s why we’re out here to promote this . . . to get people to get flood insurance and that will help us as a community to come back and be more sustainable.”

FLASH Featured on "WeatherBrains"

On May 31, FLASH President and CEO Leslie Chapman-Henderson marked the beginning of hurricane season with an appearance as guest “WeatherBrain” for WBMA - ABC 33/40 Chief Meteorologist James Spann’s popular, online talk show at WeatherBrains.com. The Washington Post Weather Editor and founder of Capitol Weather Gang Jason Samenow served as the guest panelist to pose questions and spark discussion across all the regularly appearing “Brains,” Nate Johnson, Bill Murray, Brian Peters, Kevin Selle, and, Aubrey Urbanowicz.

During the show, Leslie introduced viewers to the new #HurricaneStrong initiative. “Last year, we recognized the need to unify the universe of hurricane preparedness [and] resilience efforts to overcome societal amnesia,” she explained. “We did it under the mantra of #HurricaneStrong.” It was no small feat, but by using traditional and social media, brokering a calendar for hurricane resilience, and working to unite leaders from FEMA, NOAA, The Home Depot, The Weather Channel, the insurance industry, and more, we successfully organized and delivered the message. “We did it together,” Chapman-Henderson emphasized.

Throughout its 18-year history, FLASH has led multi-faceted initiatives designed to “turn the volume up,” as Chapman-Henderson says, on national resilience. And from presidential acknowledgement and the unprecedented levels of engagement in the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour to the 695 workshops in The Home Depot stores, FLASH is once again spreading greater awareness and safety in all sectors of society.

So, what’s on the horizon for FLASH? Adding to its many multi-hazard initiatives, FLASH is partnering with FEMA’s Individual and Community Preparedness Division to develop new resilience education products. They are currently developing new Ready Business Toolkits and business workshops focused on inland flooding, power outage and severe wind, said Chapman-Henderson. “Power outage can potentially affect more people than all other perils combined, but few comprehensive resources are available to address it. This needs to change and we're up for the challenge."

WeatherBrains airs every Monday at 8:30 pm CT on Google hangouts.

FLASH Addresses National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program

On Friday, June 17, Leslie Chapman-Henderson addressed a meeting of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP) Strategic Planning Stakeholders at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA. Presenters included leading scientists Roger Wakimoto, Assistant Director of the Geosciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation; Forrest Masters, Associate Dean for Research and Facilities and Associate Professor of Civil and Coastal Engineering at the University of Florida; and Tim Reinhold, Senior Vice President for Research and Chief Engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

The meeting was convened and hosted by NWIRP Acting Director Dr. Marc Levitan of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to support the NWIRP purpose, “to achieve major measurable reductions in the losses of life and property from windstorms.”

The balance of the daylong gathering included breakout sessions to identify potential NWIRP strategic plan elements such as the following:

1) Prioritized goals for NWIRP that will mitigate against loss of life and property from future windstorms;

2) Short-term, mid-term, and long-term research objectives to achieve those goals; and,

3) Transfer of research results into outcomes, such as improved standards and model building codes, public outreach and information dissemination, and promotion of the adoption of windstorm preparedness and mitigation measures.

FLASH will remain involved throughout the planning process, and will keep partners informed of opportunities to offer feedback, participate, and support this critical, national effort.

QuakeSmart Workshop Heads Back to Where It All Began

On June 17, another successful QuakeSmart Preparedness Workshop drew businesses and organizations together to learn about local seismic risk and methods to enhance structural and nonstructural earthquake resilience. The latest workshop was sited in Rancho Cucamonga, CA and presented through a partnership with FLASH, the City of Rancho Cucamonga, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), DRB Toolkit, Earthquake Country Alliance, FEMA, Southern California Earthquake Center, Safe-T-Proof Earthquake Fasteners, San Bernardino County Fire, Legacy Partner Simpson Strong-Tie, and USGS.

More than 85 business leaders, city officials, and nonprofit organization representatives attended the workshop, which showcased the new, updated QuakeSmart Community Resilience Program for Businesses and Organizations. This event also marked a return to the California “Inland Empire” where the first QuakeSmart Workshop took place in September 2014. Since that first workshop in the Simpson Strong-Tie Training Center, more than 500 individuals and more than 300 businesses have participated and learned about local risk, business continuity, preparedness, and mitigation against the earthquake hazard.

For more information on QuakeSmart, contact Barbara Harrison at barbara@flash.org.

FLASH Brings #HurricaneStrong to “Bucket Brigade”

On June 18, FLASH team members Sarah Chason and Caldwell Nystrom joined the 2016 “Build Your Bucket” event in Tallahassee hosted by the City of Tallahassee, Leon County, Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross, and many other local organizations including FLASH Partner The Salvation Army.

More than 250 families started their “Build Your Bucket” journey by stopping at the FLASH booth to receive a five-gallon bucket and lid, compliments of Legacy Partner The Home Depot. While at the booth, families learned how to become “#HurricaneStrong.”

As families moved through the exhibit hall, they received basic preparedness information and items to place in their buckets while advancing their level of family readiness in the process. The unique event drew more than 800 visitors and represents another clever approach to spark public interest and engagement.

“We welcome FLASH participation in the Build Your Bucket event, and this was our biggest year yet," said City of Tallahassee Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Robby Powers. “Partnerships with these like-minded organizations made this a tremendous success and we could not have done it without the support of FLASH and The Home Depot.”

Breezy Point Resident to Build the First #HurricaneStrong Home

Breezy Point, NY resident Diane Hellriegel learned the value of resilient construction firsthand when she was driven from her Breezy Point home by Hurricane Sandy. Now ready to rebuild, she is committed to sharing her story by “building back better.”

Hellriegel’s new home is the product of a post-Hurricane-Sandy demonstration building project in cooperation with FLASH Legacy Partner Portland Cement Association (PCA), FLASH, and renowned New York architect Illya Azaroff.

The project will create a resilient, energy-efficient home using insulated concrete forms. At the same time, it will educate thousands of families about the benefits of implementing FEMA-compliant best practices for building and maintaining strong, safe, and durable homes.

“We have new partners joining the team weekly,” said Donn C. Thompson, Director of Market Development at PCA. “We are looking forward to working with the landmark NYC Build it Back Program and Malbro Construction, a leading builder in the Breezy Point area.”

Public outreach and education efforts will support the demonstration project, including digital and video documentation, publication of a second Resilient Design GuideConcrete Edition, and widespread promotion.

Texas State Collaborative to Meet in Austin on August 16

After historic flooding and tornadic activity in Texas, Texas State Collaborative (TSC) stakeholders are getting ready to gather. The meeting will take place Tuesday, August 16 at the Texas State Capitol Extension in Austin. The agenda will offer updated loss information, policy best practices from other states, and a strategy session to advance Texas’ disaster resilience through better building codes and practices. A new steering committee is forming to drive the collaborative and to better leverage the partnerships and Leadership Toolkits.

Please register here and save the date to join your TSC partners in Austin. Contact Barbara Harrison for more information, or to suggest an agenda item or speaker.

Planning Underway for 2017 FLASH Annual Conference

It’s time to mark your calendar for the next gathering of the FLASH Partnership which will be from October 27 to 29 in Atlanta, Georgia. Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months ahead for the call for presentations and sponsorship opportunities.

As always, FLASH will bring its class of resilience scholarship winners to the conference to share research insights. Contact Tim Smail if you are interested in submitting a scholarship application.