FLASH Looks at 2011 Natural Disasters Through Lens of Resiliency in New Report

Which U.S. city do you think Leslie Chapman-Henderson FLASH President and CEOwould recover quickest in the event of a severe earthquake? Memphis, Charleston, Seattle or Los Angeles?

In the modeled case study of these four cities, all located on major U.S. fault lines, Los Angeles (not the smaller cities) would fare the best on a relative basis because it’s a better-built environment with stronger seismic building codes and practices. Conversely, Memphis, would experience average building damage ratios eight times larger than that of LA, and would experience nearly eight times the rate of fatal injuries.

Why? In natural disasters of any kind, it’s all about resiliency or the ability of a community to survive and then bounce back from disaster — and resiliency is directly related to the quality of the built environment, building codes and record of enforcement.

This and more is revealed in a recent report: Impact 2011: Examining a Year of Catastrophes Through the Lens of Resiliency, created by WeatherPredict Consulting Inc. on behalf of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)®. The report examines both hypothetical and real disasters to better understand how strong built environments underpin resilience.

The report concludes that in the context of history, 2011 was an infamous year in terms of death, injuries and property destruction, but goes on to point out that the story is still unfolding as affected communities either recover, remain diminished or perish altogether.

When people survive and communities endure after disasters, it is because things were done ahead of time, on purpose to prevent damage and loss. Resilience after disaster is not possible without adoption and enforcement of modern, model building codes. We must act now before the next disaster strikes.

A Review of Major 2011 Events

The year began with floods and cyclones in Australia, and in the U.S. spring flooding, severe tornado activity, wildfires, a widely felt earthquake and Hurricane Irene. Even as 2011 comes to a close, additional catastrophic events have unfolded in Thailand and again in Christchurch. Some of the many events analyzed in the report are listed below.

  • U.S. Groundhog Day blizzard – 36 deaths/$2 billion
  • Christchurch, New Zealand M6.3 earthquake – 181 deaths/$25 billion
  • Tohoku, Japan M9.0 earthquake and tsunami – 15,703 deaths/4,647 missing/$300 billion
  • U.S. tornadoes – 571 deaths/3,533 injuries/$24 billion
  • Texas, New Mexico and Arizona wildfires – 6,000 structures lost/$9 billion
  •  Virginia M5.8 earthquake – one of the largest in the region – $91 million
  • North Carolina to Vermont Hurricane Irene – 45 deaths/$7 to $10 billion

We know that 2011 was a record year for disasters. What remains to be seen is whether 2012 will a record year for recovery. The key is resilience. Where there is resilience, recovery will follow — and quickly.

For a copy of Impact 2011: Examining a Year of Catastrophes Through the Lens of Resiliency, visit www.flash.org/download.php?id=230.

FLASH wishes you and your families a safe, warm and festive holiday season and New Year!
Leslie Chapman-Henderson
President and CEO FLASH

Come to the Great Winter Weather Party!

Every region of the U.S. can be affected by severe winter weather. That’s why FLASH is encouraging families throughout the U.S. to join the Great Winter Weather Party — a fun, new family-friendly website and social media campaign aimed at better preparing families and their homes for winter weather hazards like blizzards, deep freezes, ice storms and more.

Some weather events such as tornadoes or flooding can be more of a surprise, but we know — that in certain parts of the country — we WILL experience extreme winter weather at some point during the season, so join the Great Winter Weather Party and get your family prepared before the cold sets in!

Join the Great Winter Weather Party

When you join the Great Winter Weather Party you’ll find easy-to-follow tips on home and family preparedness, an opportunity to become a Snow Angel volunteer by pledging to help neighbors in need with chores like shoveling snow, and a chance to enter a sweepstakes to win a KOHLER® Generator. Go to www.greatwinterweatherparty.org, and you can:

Prepare Your Home: Simple tips for preparing your home for extreme winter weather:

  • Preventing ice dams in attics
  • Properly insulating pipes
  • Staying safe while using fireplaces, furnaces and space heaters
  • Getting outside spaces ready for winter

Prepare Your Family:  Simple tips for preparing your family for extreme winter weather

  • Gathering the right supplies for an extreme winter event
  • Creating an emergency plan
  • Knowing what to do if you’re stranded away from home in the bad weather, and more.

Be a Snow Angel Volunteer

Created in partnership with the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and the HandsOn Network, Snow Angel volunteers pledge to help neighbors in need shovel their walks, salt their steps and provide additional help as needed during extreme winter weather. The goal of the Snow Angel program is to reduce snow shoveling-related injuries (approximately 11,000 each year) and deaths due to heart attacks (approximately 100 each year).

Enter KOHLER Generator Sweepstakes

Power outages are common during extreme winter weather and can last for several days. The Great Winter Weather Party gives families an opportunity to win a KOHLER automatic standby generator to keep the heat on, save your pipes from damaging your home and make certain the hot chocolate is warmed perfectly. To enter the sweepstakes, visit www.greatwinterweatherparty.org and click on the “generator sweepstakes” tab. To learn more about standby power, visit www.kohlerpower.com.

Engage Through Social Media

Get up-to-the-minute campaign announcements, expert tips, and join in fun activities, games and prizes throughout the season – just “like” the Great Winter Weather Party on Facebook (facebook.com/wxparty) and “follow us” on Twitter (@wxparty).

The Great Winter Weather Party is presented by FLASH and sponsored by KOHLER Generators and State Farm™.