SEATTLE - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Blue Creek Fire, burning in Walla Walla County, Wash.Language English
CORAM, N.Y. -- A new study that looked in part at how damage estimates evolve following a storm puts the total amount of building damage caused by Hurricane Sandy for all evaluated counties in New York at $23 billion. Estimates of damage by county ranged from $380 million to $5.9 billion.
The U.S. Geological Survey study, done in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, marks the first time the agency has done this type of analysis and cost estimation for a coastal storm.
"We looked at how estimates of building damage change depending on the amount of information available at the time of the estimate, looking at three time periods -- storm landfall, two weeks later, and then three months later," said Chris Schubert, a USGS hydrologist and lead author of the study. "What we found was that the biggest jump in estimate reliability comes between the initial estimate and the two-week mark, but that the additional information available three months after an event greatly help refine the estimates even further."
The USGS researcher called the study a "proof of concept" that really showcased the value of gathering storm data before and after a storm.
"FEMA funded the sensor placement we did prior to the storm and our assessment of how high the water reached after the storm," Schubert said. "The results from this new study demonstrated how the additional resolution and accuracy of flood depictions resulting from these efforts greatly improved the damage estimates."
Damage estimates can be used by FEMA and other stakeholders to help prioritize relief and reconstruction efforts following a storm. The results can also assist with resiliency planning that helps communities prepare for future storms.
The researchers came up with the estimates by using census data and FEMA’s HAZUS modeling software program. The HAZUS program is used to estimate potential loss from disasters such as earthquakes, wind, hurricanes and floods. This program allows for an assessment of building loss on a block-by-block level.
Hurricane Sandy’s impact was the first time in recent memory, and record, that coastal water levels had reached the heights they attained in many places in the state of New York. Flood effects of Hurricane Sandy, in comparison to those from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, were significantly more extensive, with most water levels rising at least 2.5 feet higher than in the 2011 storm.
With the latest USGS analysis, a comprehensive picture of the magnitude of Sandy’s impact is now available. Without the sensor placement before the storm, and assessment of high-water marks after, this level of understanding wouldn’t be possible.
"This is the first time USGS has done this type of analysis and cost estimation for a coastal storm," said Schubert. "The effort incorporates what we learned from previous storms going back to Katrina, and the storm-tide information we provided to FEMA in the immediate aftermath of Sandy is one of the building blocks for this research. The additional fidelity of the damage estimate underscores the tremendous value of the dataset for this storm."
Interpretation of storm-tide data from a variety of tools such as tide gauges, stream gauges, and temporary sensors combined with high-water marks showed the extreme nature of storm-tide flooding and, at some sites, the severity and arrival time of the storm surge. Storm surge is the height of water above the normal astronomical tide level due to a storm. Storm tide is the storm surge in addition to the regular tide.
"Timing matters, though every storm is different," said Schubert. "Throughout southeastern New York, we saw that timing of the surge arrival determined how high the storm tide reached. The worst flooding impacts occurred along the Atlantic Ocean-facing parts of New York City and western Long Island, where the peak storm surge arrived at high tide. So the resulting storm tide was five to six feet higher than it would have been had the peak surge arrived at low tide."
The new research is available online in, Analysis of Storm-Tide Impacts from Hurricane Sandy in New York, SIR 2015-5036, by C.E. Schubert, R. Busciolano, P.P. Hearn Jr., A.N. Rahav, R. Behrens, J. Finkelstein, J. Monti Jr., and A. E. Simonson. It examined damage estimates from those counties with depictions of flood extent available from FEMA and the National Hurricane Center.
The USGS is also conducting a study in New Jersey that examines similar topics, including the estimated flood frequency of documented peak storm-tide elevations, comparisons of Sandy to historic coastal storms, the timing of storm surge, and changes in HAZUS damage estimates with the use of USGS sensor and high-water-mark data. That study is expected to be completed and released later this year.
OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the state of California to combat the North Fire burning in San Bernardino County.Language English
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Renters in Arkansas counties whose homes and property were damaged by the severe spring storms may be eligible for federal disaster assistance.
“Heavy rain, flooding and tornado winds do not discriminate between homeowners and renters,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Nancy M. Casper. “We're here to help everyone who is eligible for assistance, and that includes renters.”Language English
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Kansas.
Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:Language English
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Kansas to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of May 4 to June 21, 2015.Language English
CHEYENNE, WYO. – In less than two weeks, federal and state disaster assistance in the form of grants and low-interest loans for Wyoming families and individuals impacted by the May 24-June 6 severe storms and floods is $653,092.05. Thus far, 213 Johnson and Niobrara county residents have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance, and continued assistance funds go out daily.Language English
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides two main types of assistance following natural disasters, such as the Texas storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that occurred May 4 through June 22.
Individual Assistance is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to individuals and families who have sustained losses due to disasters.Language English
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma residents who suffered damage from the severe storms, tornadoes, flooding and straight-line winds of May 5 through June 4 now have more time to register for state and federal disaster assistance. The new registration deadline is Wednesday, August 26.
The registration period normally lasts for 60 days following an official disaster declaration, but this extension gives Oklahomans an extra month to update insurance information and find other documents needed to complete or supplement their applications.Language English
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Hours at the disaster recovery centers in Howard and Jefferson counties will change beginning Monday, July 20. The centers provide help to those whose homes or businesses were affected by the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of May 7 to June 15, 2015.
Starting Monday, hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sundays.Language English
On July 17, 2015, the USGS issued the FY15/FY16 Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). The BAA provides detailed information on how to partner with the USGS and other Federal agencies to acquire high-quality 3D Elevation data. Information and contacts are now available at Fed Biz Opps (Search for Reference Number: G15PS00558) and Grants.gov (Funding Opportunity Number: G15AS00123).
Offerors may contribute funds toward a USGS lidar data acquisition activity via the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts or they may request 3DEP funds toward a lidar data acquisition activity where the requesting partner is the acquiring authority. Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit pre-proposals. Pre-proposals are due by 1:00PM ET, August 25, 2015. Full Proposals are due by 1:00PM ET, October 23, 2015
On July 23 at 12:00 PM ET and July 28 at 2:00 PM ET, national public webinars will be conducted to provide instructions to the broader community on preparing proposals for submission to the BAA. These webinars will be recorded, so those unable to attend can listen to the instructions at their convenience. Links to register (and find the recording when posted) are available on the 3DEP Geospatial Platform Sharing Site.
Those who were unable to attend the national BAA process overview public webinars in April are encouraged to view the video recording to become familiar with the basics of the BAA process. The recording is available on the 3DEP Geospatial Platform Sharing Site.
The BAA is a public process to develop partnerships for the collection of lidar and derived elevation data for 3DEP. The primary goal of 3DEP is to systematically collect nationwide lidar coverage (ifsar in Alaska) over an 8-year period to provide more than $690 million annually in new benefits to government entities, the private sector and citizens. 3DEP presents a unique opportunity for collaboration between all levels of government to leverage the services and expertise of private sector mapping firms that acquire the data, and to create jobs now and in the future. More information about 3DEP including updates on current and future 3DEP partnership opportunities is available online.Map depicts the proposed body of work for 3DEP in Fiscal Year 2015. The BAA awards will add more than 95,000 square miles of 3DEP quality lidar data to the national database. (high resolution image 10.9 MB)
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Parents and guardians of children who are citizens, noncitizen nationals or qualified aliens living in the federally-declared Arkansas disaster area, may apply for assistance on behalf of their child, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.Language English
AUSTIN, Texas – The federal disaster declaration for Texas has been expanded to include Individual Assistance for four additional counties as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that occurred between May 4 and June 19 according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The four Texas counties newly designated for Individual Assistance are:
Hood, Madison, Shelby and Wharton.Language English
BATON ROUGE, La. – The July 13 major disaster declaration for severe storms and flooding makes five Louisiana parishes eligible to receive disaster assistance from the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program – or the “other disaster assistance.”
Those five parishes are Bossier, Caddo, Grant, Natchitoches and Red River.Language English
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Three weeks after a federal disaster declaration made assistance available, more than $1 million in aid is helping the residents of nine Arkansas counties recover from the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding, May 7 to June 15, 2015.
To date, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, 151 persons have been approved for disaster assistance (as of 7 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 2015).Language English
AUSTIN, Texas – A State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will open on Monday, July 20, at 12 p.m. in Cherokee County for homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from May 4 to June 19.Language English
AUSTIN, Texas – A State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will open on Monday, July 20, at 12 p.m. in Blanco County for homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from May 4 to June 19.Language English
WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is reminding National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders, who filed a claim as a result of Hurricane Sandy, that they have 60 days to register to have their files reviewed if they believe their claims were underpaid. FEMA set a Sept. 15, 2015 as the last day for policyholders to register.Language English
OKLAHOMA CITY – A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will reopen in Canadian County to help people in Oklahoma who were affected by the severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding and tornadoes occurring May 5 through June 4.
The mobile DRC officially opens Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 7 a.m. at:
Jenks Simmons Field House Annex
214 North Country Club Road,
El Reno, OK 73036
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
(This mobile DRC closes on Friday, July 24 at 7 p.m.)
ISLAND OF HAWAI‘I, Hawaii — Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.
A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.
Mosquito-carried diseases such as avian pox and avian malaria have been devastating native Hawaiian forest birds. A single mosquito bite can transfer malaria parasites to a susceptible bird, where the death rate may exceed 90 percent for some species. As a result, many already threatened or endangered native birds now only survive in disease-free refuges found in high-elevation forests where mosquito populations and malaria development are limited by colder temperatures. Unlike continental bird species, island birds cannot move northward in response to climate change or increased disease stressors, but must adapt or move to less hospitable habitats to survive.
“We knew that temperature had significant effects on mosquitoes and malaria, but we were surprised that rainfall also played an important role,” said USGS Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit scientist Michael Samuel. “Additional rainfall will favor mosquitoes as much as the temperature change.”
With warming temperatures, mosquitoes will move farther upslope and increase in number. The authors expect high-elevation areas to remain mosquito-free, but only until mid-century when mosquito-friendly temperatures will begin to appear at higher elevations. Future increases in rainfall will likely benefit the mosquitoes as well.
Scientists know that historically, malaria has caused bird extinctions, but changing climates could affect the bird-mosquito-disease system in unknown ways. “We wanted to figure out how climate change impacts birds in the future,” said Wei Liao, post-doctorate at University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the article.
As more mosquitoes move up the mountainside, disease-free refuges will no longer provide a safe haven for the most vulnerable species. The rate of disease infection is likely to speed up as the numbers of mosquitoes increase and more diseased birds become hosts to the parasites, continuing the cycle of infection to healthy birds.
Researchers conclude that future global climate change will cause substantial decreases in the abundance and diversity of remaining Hawaiian bird communities. Without significant intervention many native Hawaiian species, like the scarlet ‘I‘iwi with its iconic curved bill, will suffer major population declines or extinction due to increasing risk from avian malaria during the 21st century.
There is hope for the birds. Because these effects are unlikely to appear before mid-century, natural resource managers have time to implement conservation strategies to protect these unique species from further decimation. Land managers could work toward preventing forest bird number declines by restoring and improving habitat for the birds, reducing mosquitoes on a large scale and controlling predators of forest birds.
“Hawaiian forest birds are some of the most threatened forest birds in the world,” said Samuel. “They are totally unique to Hawai‘i and found nowhere else. They are also important to the Hawaiian culture. And at this point, we still don’t fully understand what role they play as pollinators and in forest dynamics.”
The article, “Will a Warmer and Wetter Future Cause Extinction of Native Hawaiian Forest Birds?” can be found in the online edition of Global Change Biology.
The work was supported by the Department of Interior Pacific Islands Climate Science Center, which is managed by the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center. The center is one of eight that provides scientific information to help natural resource managers respond effectively to climate change.