LINCROFT, N.J. -- When a major disaster strikes, the first steps agencies take are health and safety related – controlling damage, minimizing casualties, finding shelter for displaced victims.Language English
Kansas State University Pilots "ReadyCampus" on September 30; Campus-wide Event to Engage Students in Real-time, Disaster Preparedness Challenge
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Students and faculty at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, along with their neighbors, will have a unique chance to learn first-hand about the importance of disaster preparedness with the launch of ReadyCampus, a one-day preparedness campus event slated for September 30, 2013.
Agency Also Sends $5.3 Million For Vermont’s Irene-Related Administrative Costs
WILLISTON, Vt. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has put $33 million into the state’s coffers to repair damage at the Waterbury State Office Complex caused by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.
Roughly $33 million of Public Assistance funding represents FEMA’s 90 percent reimbursement of a total eligible cost to the State of $36.3 million to perform work on approximately 40 buildings and tunnels at the Waterbury State Office Complex.Language English
New research provides insight on why the New Madrid Seismic Zone is unique and may continue to pose a higher earthquake risk than adjacent areas in the central United States.
Using innovative and sophisticated technology, scientists now have high-resolution imagery of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, allowing them to map the area in more detail than ever before. The maps allow for greater understanding of the weak rocks in this zone that are found at further depths in the Earth's mantle compared to surrounding areas. Scientists also determined that earthquakes and their impacts are likely to be narrowly concentrated in this zone.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists led this research and recently published their findings in the journal, Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
A swarm of some of the largest historical earthquakes in the nation occurred in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, in particular three earthquakes greater than magnitude 7 occurred from 1811 to 1812. There have been several smaller, yet still significant, earthquakes in the area since then. This zone extends about 165 miles from Marked Tree, Ark., to Paducah, Ky. and the southern end of the zone is about 35 miles northwest of Memphis, Tenn.
"With the new high-resolution imagery, we can see in greater detail that the New Madrid Seismic Zone is mechanically weaker than surrounding areas and therefore concentrates movement and stress in a narrow area," said USGS scientist Fred Pollitz, who is the lead author of this research. "The structure beneath this zone is unique when compared to adjacent areas in the central and eastern United States. A more in-depth understanding of such zones of weakness ultimately helps inform decisions such as the adoption of appropriate building codes to protect vulnerable communities, while also providing insight that could be applied to other regions across the world."
Prior to this research, the New Madrid Seismic Zone has been mapped by the USGS as an area of high seismic hazard, but those assessments were a consequence of a short (about 4,500 years) earthquake record for the area.
This research specifically investigated the Reelfoot Rift area, which is a 500-million-year-old geologic feature that contains the New Madrid Seismic Zone in its northernmost part. Scientists imaged rocks deep beneath Earth’s surface to see their characteristics and understand their mechanical behavior, especially their ability to withstand the huge stresses constantly placed on them.
A surprising finding was that weak rocks underlie the fault lines in the crust of the Reelfoot Rift and extend more than 100 miles down into the mantle. In contrast, weak rocks in other ancient rift zones in the central and eastern United States bottom out at much shallower depths. These weak mantle rocks have low seismic velocity, meaning that they are more susceptible to concentration of tectonic stress and more mobile.
USGS scientists used data from USArray, which is a large network of seismometers that is a component of the EarthScope program of the National Science Foundation. These seismometers provide images of the crust and mantle down to 120 miles (200 kilometers) beneath the surface using the methods employed by these scientists.
"Our results are unexpected and significant because they suggest that large earthquakes remain concentrated within the New Madrid Seismic Zone," said USGS scientist Walter Mooney, the co-author of the report. "There are still many unknowns about this zone, and future research will aim to understand why the seismic zone is active now, why its earthquake history may be episodic over millions of years, and how often it produces large quakes."
In the future, USGS scientists plan to map the seismic structure of the entire nation using USArray. This effort started in California in 2004, is focusing on the east coast next, and will then move to Alaska. All of the USArray and other Earthscope efforts will also help inform the USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps.
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s major disaster declaration issued for the Santa Clara Pueblo.
Assistance for Tribal Governments Can Include as Required:Language English
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced that federal disaster aid has been made available for the Santa Clara Pueblo and ordered federal aid to supplement the Tribe’s efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding during the period of July 19-21, 2013.
Federal funding is available for the Santa Clara Pueblo and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work as a result of the severe storms and flooding.Language English
Podcast: Mercury and Global Change
Rising global temperatures and changing human actions will significantly affect the behavior and distribution of mercury worldwide, according to a recent article by the U.S. Geological Survey and Harvard University.
Mercury, especially in the form of methylmercury, is an extremely toxic chemical to all life forms. It occurs both naturally and as the result of human activities. A majority of mercury releases to the environment presently are atmosphere emissions from human activities, and reemissions of previously deposited mercury from soils and the oceans. The largest sources of man-made mercury emissions are small-scale gold mining and burning coal for electrical generation.
"Studies like this help us better understand the overall effects of multiple impacts on the environment," said USGS Acting Director Suzette Kimball. "We are just beginning to understand many of the consequences of global climate change and how interrelated many environmental issues truly are."
Several seemingly unconnected aspects of climate change are expected to affect mercury at the global scale, according to the article. In the atmosphere, higher temperatures and weaker air circulation patterns from climate change will likely have significant impacts on the atmospheric lifetime and patterns of mercury deposition.
In most climate change scenarios, storms will be less frequent but more intense, resulting in larger amounts of mercury being released from the soil through erosion that may end up in rivers, lakes and oceans, the study said. When mercury reaches these surface waters, it can be processed by naturally occurring bacteria into the neuro-toxic methylmercury.
In addition, the article explained that climate change will likely lead to more frequent and intense forest fires, which release mercury from relatively stable and safe storage in the soil and allow it to be transported downwind and then redeposited and possibly converted into methylmercury.
"The intersection of the complex behavior of mercury in the environment with the myriad of aspects of global change provided a significant challenge to describe in this paper," said USGS scientist David Krabbenhoft, the article’s lead author. "Although the science behind mercury research has exponentially increased in the past couple decades, providing reliable information to resource managers and decision makers on such complex topics remains a significant research challenge."
Changes in human behavior will also have substantial impacts on global mercury, according to the article. Current human emissions of mercury total 2,000 metric tons per year. Under the best-case scenario of curbing human emissions and mitigating climate change, that number could fall to 800 metric tons per year by 2050. If no actions are taken and a business-as-usual approach is followed, the number will likely increase to 3,400 metric tons per year by 2050.
Human activity has already had a significant impact on the release of mercury emissions, the article explained. For example, since the Industrial Revolution and widespread development of mercury emitting processes like coal combustion for electric power generation, soil records show a 3 to 5 fold increase in atmospheric deposition since the 1880s, and 7 to10 fold since antiquity. During the 20th century, coal-fired power plants dominated the human emissions of mercury.
However, with the current high cost of gold and relatively inexpensive liquid mercury, small-scale gold mining has taken over as the primary source of human emissions of mercury. Mercury is used to separate gold from rock deposits, and is often done in a manner that results in the miners and the local environment being exposed to toxic levels of mercury, according to the report.
Positive steps at controlling mercury emissions have been taken, though, Krabbenhoft noted. In 2011, the United States enacted the first-ever emissions regulations on coal-fired electricity-generating power plants. However, the United States only accounts for six to ten percent of global emissions.
To tackle global emissions, the United Nations Environmental Program brought together 140 countries to craft the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which is a binding resolution that includes emissions standards for mercury. It is scheduled to be signed in October, 2013.
USGS provides information on mercury sources; mercury cycling in the atmosphere, land surface, lakes, streams and oceans; and bioaccumulation and toxicity of mercury. This information helps land and resource managers understand and reduce mercury hazards to people and wildlife. Learn more about this article online.
DENVER – Mitigation specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be in Greeley, Longmont and Louisville to provide free rebuilding information Saturday, Sept. 28, through Tuesday, Oct. 1.Language English
LINCROFT, N.J. -- In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, tens of thousands of New Jersey survivors suddenly faced a desperate need of a dry, safe place to stay. From the midst of this chaos emerged a massive housing effort involving local, state, federal, voluntary agencies, community and faith-based organizations, county social services and individuals working together.Language English
DENVER – The first Disaster Recovery Centers in Arapahoe and Logan counties are open to help survivors get answers to disaster assistance needed because of losses and damages caused by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides.
Aurora Central Library
14949 E. Alameda Pkwy
Aurora, CO 80012
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week
Logan County Fairgrounds
1120 Pawnee Ave.
Sterling, CO 80751Language English
DENVER - FEMA Individual Assistance is not only for homeowners. It is also be available for eligible renters, and it could include a grant to help pay for temporary emergency housing.
Renters in nine Colorado counties – Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan and Weld – could be eligible for FEMA disaster assistance if their homes were damaged by the recent storms, flooding, landslides or mudslides.
Other FEMA grants can include help paying for disaster-related expenses that include:Language English
DENTON, Texas – The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region 6 office, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and county, local and tribal officials are assessing damage in the aftermath of recent severe storms and flooding in the state.
DENVER – Twenty-three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) are helping flood survivors connect with recovery services in Adams, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties.
The DSATs are made up of disaster specialists from FEMA and are canvassing areas to give residents an opportunity to register for disaster assistance and to quickly address immediate and emerging needs. DSATs can also provide referrals to additional resources when unmet needs remain.Language English
DENVER – More than $25 million has been approved in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster grants for survivors of Colorado’s severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that began on Sept. 11.
Nearly 18,000 households in Colorado have applied for assistance from FEMA in the nine counties designated for Individual Assistance under the Sept. 14 presidential disaster declaration.Language English
DENTON, Texas – September is National Preparedness Month. In recognition of that, North Texas emergency managers teamed up today for an “Open House for Preparedness,” where they shared their knowledge and experience with hundreds of third graders in the Duncanville Independent School District (ISD).
The students interacted one-on-one with experts from the city of Duncanville Fire Department and Police Department; the Best Southwest Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); the American Red Cross; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).Language English