Updated: Wednesday, 25 Aug 2010, 11:57 AM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 25 Aug 2010, 11:57 AM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS - A national conference is bringing together participants from across the U.S. to learn more about using disaster modeling software.
With participation from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), Indianapolis is hosting the National FEMA HAZUS-MH Users Conference on August 23-25. Three hundred forty one representatives from nearly all 50 states, Puerto Rico, India and Canada registered for the conference.
“Indiana has taken significant advantage of the HAZUS-MH tool. 89 of our 92 counties have used the software for multi-hazard mitigation in an effort to create settings, scenarios and plans to help predict potential threats to our citizens and livelihood,” says IDHS Executive Director Joe Wainscott. “This system provides a set of tools and processes that bridge different county and local agencies and facilitate collaboration and sharing of data.”
HAZUS-MH is a program created by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that uses mapping data to predict potential damage from natural disasters including floods, earthquakes and hurricanes (in coastal areas).
The program produces maps, tables and reports to analyze impacts of hazards including physical infrastructure damage to essential facilities (hospitals, fire and police stations, emergency operation centers and schools), economic impacts such as cost to rebuild and loss of jobs, and social impact such as shelter requirements for displaced households. IDHS uses HAZUS-MH (Multi-Hazard) in developing state and county mitigation plans for earthquake and flood hazards.
Kevin Mickey, an expert in FEMA’s HAZUS-MH application from the Polis Center in Indianapolis, is speaking at several conference sessions. He defined the program as user-driven and emphasized Indiana’s prominent use of HAZUS-MH. “Indiana uses some of the best mapping data in the nation,” Mickey said. “Indiana has been proactive in using HAZUS-MH through mitigation plans and prolific local training.”
The HAZUS Conference is allowing users such as first responders, local government officials, planners, and mapping specialists to share expertise and experience in the development and use of HAZUS-MH.
IDHS’s mitigation division, along with the Silver Jackets group (an active multi-agency flood management team), has made innovative strides in HAZUS use. After moving to better modeling data, IDHS and the Silver Jackets have added flood grids to gather other damage information related to predict how fast water can move and how long the water will be elevated in a pilot area along the White River in Indianapolis using live data for existing gauges.
“HAZUS was developed to give communities an idea of what resources they would likely need if a natural disaster occurred,” said Jan Crider, state mitigation director. “It helps us prioritize and direct our mitigation activities.”
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