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Archive for the ‘Risk Assessment’ Category


Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Every morning, I spend about 20 minutes looking over my RSS news feeds, all related to emergency preparedness.  Currently, most of the news is about the just-ended hurricane season, however, I’ve noticed a trend toward a greater concern about the threat of bioterrorism.  The two events that seem to have prompted this concern are the release of the  progress report by the  Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism coupled with the amount of time it has taken to distribute the H1N1 vaccine.  The Commission’s report warns that “The biological threat is greater than the nuclear; the acquisition of deadly pathogens, and their weaponization and dissemination in aerosol form, would entail fewer technical hurdles than the theft or production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium and its assembly into an improvised nuclear device.” This warning along with the potential of an accidental incident dealing with harzardous materials should prompt us all to be looking at our shelter-in-place procedures.

Cyber terrorism is also getting a lot of attention, thanks in part by last month’s 60 Minutes report.  A potential target, experts warn, is the power grid, so you may want to keep your print core textbooks accessible and up-to-date.

Statistically, December is the month with the fewest tornadoes, so this is a good time to be looking over your tornado response procedures.  We’re also seeing a downward trend of H1N1 activity.  Hopefully, you all have a solid pandemic plan in place  in the event that the virus spikes again in the winter or spring.  (If not, check out our Pandemic Planning Resources page.) And if you have a pandemic plan, you are therefore ready for a severe winter storm, as many of the steps you would take in a pandemic (e.g. reduced staffing, work from home) you could also take with a severe winter storm.

A Mirror Season

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Did you know that there is a “mirror season” for tornadoes in the U. S.?  Because of the temperature changes in the fall in the northern hemisphere, fall weather conditions mirror, to some extent, the conditions that exist in the spring and can spawn “swarms” of tornadoes.  This is an El Nino year, which will affect all of the U.S., but especially the southern and Gulf Coast regions of the U.S. (look out Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas!), bringing a wetter and somewhat cooler winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Click here to see the NOAA page with lots of enlightening info.  The positive aspects of an El Nino year include increased moisture for drought-stricken areas as well as a dampening effect on hurricane activity during summer and fall, but  an increased chance for “organized” tornado activity in the fall goes hand-in-hand.  See the maps below from the NOAA site mentioned above for their forecast of both temperature and precipitation for the U.S. this winter.  So, especially for those in the southeast tier of U.S. states, brush off those shelter-in-place plans for your institutions’ buildings and think about preparedness at home, just in case!

NOAA Map of El Nino Temps

NOAA Map El Nino Precip

Emergency Preparedness in the Pacific Southwest Region

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

We met last week (June 22) with NN/LM staff from the Pacific Southwest Region (PSR) in the Louise Darling Biomedical Library at UCLA, along with representatives from the states in their region (see the photo of state representatives in the gallery here on the site).  Attending for the states were:  Amy Knehans from Hawaii, Cinda McClain from Arizona, Triza Crittle from Nevada, and Chapter liaisons Peggy Tahir and Irene Lovas from California.   After an overview of progress of the national plan and reports from the state representatives and NN/LM staff, we presented the recently developed curriculum for use by NN/LM staff in training members in the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity,” which now includes a new risk assessment exercise and score sheet handout (thanks to the South Central Region for the encouragement to develop this idea!).

Judy Consales, Director, and Julie Kwan, Network Coordinator of the PSR taught a class called “Are You Ready?” in Hawaii, presenting both face-to-face and using AccessGrid, which was quite successful.  In addition to outreach efforts, Heidi Sandstrom, Associate Director, noted that their library has also continued to develop emergency preparedness plans, having recently enhanced signage and room numbers/designations to help with evacuations and troubleshooting in their building.  Jake Nadal, of the UCLA Library’s Preservation Department, spoke to the group about UCLA’s efforts to provide continuous access to digital resources as well as how to plan for preservation of print materials and other library resources.  The day closed with a discussion of goals for the region during the coming year, as well as some questions and ideas to be addressed, as outlined by Heidi.

Once again, we were energized by the excellent collaborative spirit of the NN/LM staff and the state representatives from the PSR, and benefitted from hearing about their successes as well as ideas for improvement of the plan and the resources offered (e.g. the Toolkit and the training materials).  The PSR training meeting was our last NN/LM staff meeting for this contract year, and we can say without reservation that NN/LM Directors, Associate Directors, all NN/LM staff, and the state representatives have been unfailingly enthusiastic, hospitable, creative, and committed to including emergency preparedness in their outreach to NN/LM members.


15 years ago in Northridge, CA

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

In January of 1994, the Northridge area of California was shaken by a level 6.7 earthquake, which devastated the area, including California State University at Northridge. See Susan Curzon’s story of the destruction of her library at CSU, and how they responded by getting services back up and running in temporary shelters and with limited staffing. (This story and more are available from the “Library Disaster Stories” page here on the toolkit.)

Earthquake damage to the rear side of the Oviatt Library.  Image from Susan Curzon's story.

Earthquake damage to the rear side of the Oviatt Library. Image from Susan Curzon's story.

Today, in the “Emergency Preparedness News” section in the left column of the toolkit, you can see a story about the earthquake drill that is scheduled for Stanford University in early February. It is interesting to see how well their preparedness planners have used the lessons learned from previous incidents in their area and have planned the drill to deal with issues they know they will face when the next quake occurs.

The toolkit has two additional resources for preparedness and risk assessment related specifically to earthquakes. (1) See the “Earthquakes” RSS feed available in the list of RSS feeds on the left, and (2) under “Risk Assessment Maps and Charts” on the right, see the Earthquake map produced by the USGS showing earthquake probability for all of the U.S. The USGS says that over 75 million people live in earthquake-prone zones in the U.S., which affect 39 states.