State of Oregon Cascadia Playbook V.3

The State of Oregon has recently released its latest version of the Cascadia Playbook, a guide to expected responses in the aftermath of a major disaster (in this case an earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Fault). You can find it here.

Australia – VIC – Communities to mark 50th anniversary of devastating fires

Tuesday 8 January 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the devastating bushfires of 1969.

On that day 230 fires burned across Victoria, of which 21 were serious including fires in Lara, Darraweit Guim, Daylesford, Bulgana, Yea, Kangaroo Flat and Korongvale.

More than 250,000 hectares, 230 houses and 12,000 livestock were destroyed. Tragically 21 people died, including two CFA volunteers. Hundreds were injured.

Although dry and hot throughout January that year, the weather on 8 January 1969 was unexpected. A weather system that developed in the western Bass Strait that morning brought strong gale force winds to much of the state, causing some fires from the day before to reignite and fanning new fires. 

The worst fires were in the open farm land around Lara near Geelong. It is estimated that the fire travelled up to 11 kilometres per hour that day due to the 119 kilometre winds and low humidity. Lara was almost wiped off the map as the fire burned from the You Yangs to Corio Bay.

The township experienced the most significant deaths with 18 people losing their lives.

The fire in Lara moved so quickly that motorists on the Princes Highway had little chance of escaping as the fire crossed the highway in the mid-morning. 

Some of the 17 who died on the highway had panicked and jumped from their cars in dense smoke in an effort to flee the fire on foot.

Two brothers who sheltered in their car through the worst of the fire front survived. It was the first time that evidence suggested that it was safer to remain in a car during a fire rather than abandoning it – advice that is used today.

In addition to the 18 deaths, more than 40 homes were destroyed, the primary school and church were gone, and vital railway infrastructure was burning.

The other major fire that day occurred in Darraweit Guim where strong winds swept flames through more than 20,000 acres of farmland and crops in a matter of minutes, destroying 12 homes, two churches, thousands of livestock as well as farm machinery and stock feed.

Communications were also disrupted as power poles caught fire and fell to the ground.  

That evening a cool change with heavy rain brought an end to the worst of the fire threat and welcome relief to the state.

The Lara and Little River communities will come together on Sunday 6 January 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the fires and those who lost their lives. All events are free.

 •Church Service at Holy Trinity Church Flinders Ave. Lara, 10am to 11am

•Commemoration Service at the Lara Fires Memorial (next to the Lara Library), 11.30am to 12.30pm

•Community gathering at Lara Community Centre, 12.30pm to 1.30pm

•Guided bus tour by Captain Terry Hedt who fought in the 1969 fires. Limited seats, 1.30pm (departing Lara Community Centre)

For more information on these events, visit the Lara CFA Facebook page.

Australia – SA – Interesting follow-up eight years after successful SAR operation

An overturned vessel found off the coast of Kangaroo Island on New Year’s Eve has been identified as the ‘Wild Eyes’.

The vessel was spotted from the air by a tuna spotting plane about 11 nautical miles south of Vivonne Bay, Kangaroo Island about 12.30pm on Monday 31 December.  The police helicopter (PolAir) was sent to investigate, along with two commercial fishing vessels operating nearby.

The boat was subsequently identified as the ‘Wild Eyes’, which had been abandoned eight years ago in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a round the world voyage.

On 10 June 2010, the “Wild Eyes” was dismasted in rough seas halfway between the Western Australian coast and Africa in the Indian Ocean while American Abby Sunderland was attempting to become the youngest person to sail around the world solo.  A rescue was coordinated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and she was eventually rescued by a French commercial fishing vessel on 12 June.

Study – Big data and technology in disasters: Better integration needed for effective response

In a recent review article published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, a group of Johns Hopkins’ authors evaluated 113 studies using predetermined criteria with the final search taking place on May 1, 2017. Search terms were created in consultation with medical librarians and subject matter experts in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), big data, and disasters. Only articles that implemented ICT and big data tools in real life were considered. (Table 1).


Disasters are becoming more commonplace and complex, and the challenges for rescue and humanitarian organizations increase. Increasingly these groups turn to big data to help provde solutions. The authors wished to examine how ICT tools and big data were being used in disaster responses. By conducting a structured literature search and developing a data extraction tool on the use of ICT and big data during disasters they showed that some important gaps exist which should be part of a future research focus.
Credit : Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2018.73

A data extraction tool was developed by subject matter and included the following items; first author and year, data type, disaster type, country. (Table 2).

The literature review identified some important gaps: more information is needed on the use of technologies. Most articles discussed the use of ICT in natural disasters which were mainly hurricanes and earthquakes. What was underreported was data on extreme temperatures and flooding, even though these events account for 27% and 26% of global deaths respectively.

Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2018.73

According to first author Dr. Jeffrey Freeman, “Disasters are inherently a Big Data challenge, and with the ubiquitous nature of cell phones, the rapid spread of connectivity, and the rise of technologies like the Internet of Things, the challenge is only going to get bigger. In disasters, the key question we face today is how do we harness a growingly diverse and often chaotic wave of data and information. Simply put, we’ve got to handle more data than we’ve ever had, and do so more quickly and effectively than we’ve ever done before. Big Data and ICT pose a serious challenge in disasters, but they also hold promise for potential solutions. The answer to leveraging the massive amounts of data that ICT is creating is likely to be found within the very same technologies driving the Information Age. But we have to think creatively about adapting and adopting these technologies in emergency situations. Disasters leave little room for trial and error. The consequences are too great.”

According to Dr. Dan Barnett (coauthor on the paper) “As a researcher of public health emergency preparedness and response systems, I’ve watched closely as the rate of innovation has frequently outpaced adoption in this field. If we are to be effective in responding to disasters and other public health emergency situations, we need to do a better job figuring out how technology can be integrated into disaster response.

In embarking on this integrative literature review, we knew information and communications technology (ICT) was present in disasters, and we knew people were using related technologies, but we didn’t know much else. As researchers, we wanted to more clearly understand how Big Data applications and ICT solutions were being used, and more importantly, we wanted to know where things went right and where things went wrong. These kinds of insights can move the state of the science forward, and ultimately, allow us to achieve a more effective response to disasters.

Technology and disasters have had a tenuous relationship. For those of us in the field, there has been a growing recognition that technology holds promise for enabling disaster response, but we’ve also watched as even the most basic of technologies, like phone service and electricity, has been crippled during the acute phase of a disaster. Technology holds little value in disasters if unavailable when it’s needed most. If we can understand more clearly how people want to use Big Data and ICT in disasters, then we can focus our efforts on ensuring those technologies are resilient and reliable under any circumstances.”

QC – Une aide financière gouvernementale pour 29 municipalités et leurs citoyens

Le gouvernement du Québec annonce que les sinistrés de 29 municipalités du Québec sont admissibles au Programme général d’aide financière lors de sinistres réels ou imminents en raison des inondations survenues du 22 au 26 décembre 2018 et pour les travaux de bris de couvert de glace réalisés du 22 au 27 décembre 2018.

Citation :

La sécurité des citoyens est notre priorité. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement du Québec aidera financièrement les administrations municipales qui sont intervenues rapidement pour réparer les dommages et assurer un retour à la normale. »

Geneviève Guilbault, vice-première ministre, ministre de la Sécurité publique et ministre responsable de la région de la Capitale-Nationale

Faits saillants :

  • Le Programme général d’aide financière lors de sinistres réels ou imminents vise à soutenir les municipalités, leurs citoyens et les entreprises qui ont été victimes d’un sinistre ainsi que les organismes ayant fourni aide et assistance lors d’un sinistre.
  • Ce programme constitue une aide de dernier recours, notamment pour réparer certains dommages aux résidences principales, aux entreprises et aux infrastructures municipales essentielles.
  • Il peut également servir à indemniser les municipalités pour les dépenses additionnelles aux dépenses courantes occasionnées par la mise en place de mesures préventives temporaires, de mesures d’intervention ou de mesures de rétablissement.

Study – Building Back Better: Understanding How Health Considerations Are Incorporated into Local Post-Disaster Recovery Implementation

Building Back Better: Understanding How Health Considerations Are Incorporated into Local Post-Disaster Recovery Implementation

Source:University of Colorado at Boulder, Natural Hazards Center

Date Published: 2018

Format: Text

Annotation: This study examines the extent to which communities are aiming to build resilience during the disaster recovery process. Researchers conducted key informant interviews with local health departments and one office of emergency management to determine if and how their communities are incorporating public health considerations into the visioning, planning, implementation, and assessment phases of disaster recovery.

URL:https://hazards.colorado.edu/quick-response-report/building-back-better-understanding-how-health-considerations-are-incorporated-into-local-post-disaster-recovery-implementation