Earthquake and Tsunami International Disaster

Between the weather and the earth, hundreds of thousands people have suffered major ill effects this past week. The most devastating of these was the Magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the east coast of Japan on March 11. That was followed by a tsunami that caused more damage to Japan and rolled eastward impacting the U.S. Pacific Region.

USGS map

The EDEN network was alerted early Friday morning to the disaster and, as new reports were issued, the network was updated. We have heard from our colleagues in Guam and Hawaii. Their first reports are now posted on the EDEN site. In addition to these reports, the Tsunami page has been updated to reflect the current situation. In addition, the page provides information about tsunamis and how to prepare for them as well as what to do when a tsunami warning is sounded.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working in support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who is the lead federal agency when responding to international disasters.

Although aftershocks of 6.0 and larger continue off the coast of Honshu, Japan, no new tsunami warnings have been issued. The U.S. Geological Survey monitors earthquake activity around the world.

It’s time to move.. EDENotes at has worked well, but we think the time has come to move the blog to eXtension. With that move, it will be easier to post articles by guests and for readers to post comments. In addition, it will keep our blog more closely aligned with our Community of Practice in eXtension. If all goes well, our next post will be from our new site.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair

Preparing for Catastrophe: Earthquakes

The first Catastrophic Events Team meeting was held in Memphis, TN January 26-28, 2011.  The team, supported by a special needs grant, began its work with a well-timed focus on earthquakes. 2011 is the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid Earthquake. This anniversary is being used by FEMA and others to raise awareness about earthquakes. Do you know what to do if your area experiences a significant earthquake? The EDEN Catastrophic Events team will research and evaluate existing disaster education materials, and then, based on the best available research and documented best practices, compile and test educational resources.  


The first afternoon of the team’s face-to-face meeting featured a trip to the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI). Gary Patterson, CERI Director, Education and Outreach and Brian Blake, Earthquake Program Director for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) talked to us about the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the potential impact of a large earthquake or series of earthquakes along this fault line. CUSEC is one of the sponsors for the April 28 Great Central US Shakeout. The team then began organizing nd creating mind maps for next steps.

Interested in this or another catastrophic event? There’s space for you on the team. Contact Tim Prather or Rick Atterberry.


Back row: Vernon Turner, Abby Lillpop, Lynette Black, Virginia Morgan, Time Prather

Front row: Rick Atterberry, Conne Burnham, Summer Prisock

Not pictured: Peter Barcinas, Steve Cain, Mike Dennison, Pat Skinner and Bill Hoffman 


Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair

Long Path Toward Catastrophic Preparedness (Part 2)

A post by Steve Cain upon his return from a Resource Allocation Workshop.

Some of you may be noticing a change in FEMA’s approach to emergency management. That become apparent at this workshop that I mentioned in the previous EDENblog.  That change in emergency management looks at the whole community as a resource. FEMA increasingly emphasizes “Whole of Community Response Planning” in all they do. Their goal is to improve the nation’s preparedness through more effective collaboration with all members of the community. This reflects a shift from a government centric approach to the concept that communities are capable of providing self-aid/self-help. These principles depend on:

  • A public that is a resource, not a liability  
  • Engaging atypical partners and collaborators 
  • Training and exercises that involve all stakeholders   

 Also, whole community planning may mean that response agencies need to: 

  • Obtain regulatory waivers, change standards, and change policy 
  • Focus on outcome-related objectives, especially increasing the number of people who survive 
  • Recognize that response is a push event; recovery is a pull event, and 
  • Develop pre-scripts or “play-books”

For more on this topic here’s a video of FEMA Deputy Administrator Rich Serino explaining the “whole of Community” and “Maximum of Maximum” concepts. 

FEMA understands that volunteers and local organizations tend to know their communities well and are trusted leaders. As trusted leaders, volunteers can enhance the value of correct information and efforts in an effective and motivating manner in planning for and after a catastrophic event.  And, Extension has resources to help. As FEMA embraces the “whole community,” Extension can find a home in that community.

From a catastrophic event perspective, several lessons were derived from the workshop.

  1. The definition of long-term recovery in ESF 14 is restrictive. It can be expanded.
  2. States and communities will have to be strategic about which areas will recovery and redevelop.
  3. Communities that prepare for response will be better prepared to recover.
  4. Companies will be strategic about where they rebuild. Cooperation between the state and private sector will enhance community recovery.
  5. States can more quickly engage federal partners in the disaster response. Such response includes pre-scripted mission assignments for the federal and national partners.
  6. There will not be enough resources for the entire event, which will put pressure on local communities to respond and recover.
  7. If telecommunications capabilities exist immediately after the event, they may decline before recovery begins as generators run out of fuel and no fuel is delivered into the area.
  8. The role of neighborhood communities and volunteers is generally underdeveloped. Although they can be valuable assets, they are often overlooked and underused. Extension can help.
  9. Most, if not all, state  Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADs) do not have adequate, if any, catastrophic plans. We are developing one in Indiana. When completed, I will share it. 
  10. A more complete vision of the 15 ESFs will help Extension communicate with emergency responders.
  11. I am convinced that developing Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COADs) is one of the most effective and efficient (low cost) ways to prepare our communities. COADs are often the local, community-based groups that resemble a state VOAD.