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One Month Roundup – Take Two

June 26, 2008

Following up on yesterday’s post:

First a couple of social media items.

I’ve written before about Eric Holdeman’s Disaster Zone blog, and recently, he linked to another of my favorite bloggers, W. David Stephenson. Mr. Stevenson’s got a number of what he calls “Disaster Tips You Won’t Hear From Officials” video clips posted to Youtube. The one that Eric posted about deals with standing up wikis in an emergency.

John Solomon over at In Case of Emergency, Read Blog got an extraordinary opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago to tour the American Red Cross Disaster Operations Center and Social Media Unit. I’ve always known ARC has been at the forefront of using social media in disaster situations, but to see everything they’re doing pulled into one place is really impressive. Kudos to the Social Media Unit — keep it up, you guys are setting trends that will remake disaster response one day.

Now for a quick two things about FEMA.

Jonah Czerwinski, blogger from Homeland Security Watch, posted on a presentation given by Congressman David Price, the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee chairman at the Center for American Progress earlier this week. Video and notes can be found here. Here’s a quick peek into his thinking about FEMA:

FEMA’s first responder funds are primarily allocated based on terrorism risk; Price said that he would “argue for a balanced allocation method based on broader, all-hazards determinations of risk.” “There is a possibility of a terrorist attack somewhere in the United States in the next five or 10 years, but I guarantee that first responders in states like mine will continue to face threats from hurricanes or natural disasters on a regular basis,” Price said.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Jonah made some additional comments:

FEMA’s capability to deal with large-scale natural disasters suffered when it was absorbed into DHS, and its relationships with state and local responders were better before Sept. 11, 2001, Price said. Price implied that the agency should be elevated to cabinet status or broken out of DHS in the next administration.

Price also asserted that FEMA should nit [sic] be in the business of providing emergency housing in the Gulf Coast, but that the Department of Housing and Urban Development should be. Although the process has been occurring, it has been slow and lacking in direction, he said.

A new-to-me blog, Project Disaster, regularly passes along links to and highlights of news articles that deal with disasters around the world. I’m not a huge fan of their site setup, but do enjoy the stuff that they find and pass along. And, in this case, what they’ve found is not good:

Two new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) audits found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has had the most management failings of any DHS component – resulting in tens of millions in violation of federal contracting regulations – and that the agency has stalled in implementing IT systems necessary to adequately manage it’s emergency crisis response logistics activities effectively.

To close, Project Disaster posted on a public health issue that seems to be creeping up. Unfortunately, very little can be done about it, especially in today’s world of spiraling living costs, bottoming dollars and empty houses, but it is something to be cognizant of:

Complacency is now “public health enemy No. 1,” as many people worldwide ignore the threat of a possible flu pandemic and other emerging infectious diseases, a top U.S. health official warned Saturday.

That health official is CDC Director, Dr. Julie Gerberding, speaking in Malaysia earlier this week. There are those at the CDC who do not like what’s happened at the Centers while she’s been in charge, but this is the second very positive note I’ve heard about her speech in Malaysia. While searching for a transcript, I found this forum thread from the MSF FluTrackers website.

One more of these, and I’ll be all caught up, I promise.

Photo credit: Bill in Ash Vegas

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2008 1:28 pm

    Hi Bill!

    Since you’re reading John Solomon’s blog, you know that the American Red Cross’ social media efforts go beyond just what the national organization is doing…the local chapters are at it as well!

    Here in Portland, Ore., we’ve been blogging (and Flickring and Twittering and YouTubeing) for quite a while. Check out our blog at http://www.redcrosspdx.blogspot.com — I think you’ll enjoy it!

  2. June 27, 2008 8:05 pm

    Lise:

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m continually impressed by what folks at the Red Cross are doing, from top to bottom you guys are setting the standard. A friend of mine used to work for the Southeast region office and is as connected a person as I know, so I know what you guys are capable of.

    I stopped by the blog and love it! My alter-ego (not Bill) has already subscribed to the feed.

    Keep up the great work!
    -Jimmy

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