Francisco Sanchez is the liaison to the director of the Harris County, Texas, Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHSEM), Judge Ed Emmett. The office is responsible for disaster preparedness and response in the region. Sanchez also acts as the public information officer for OHSEM. In this edited Q&A with Emergency Management Magazine, Sanchez addresses lessons learned from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as the sue of social media: http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Facing-the-Public-in-Disaster.html
In October 2012, shortly after Hurricane Sandy caused devastation to several states along the Eastern Seaboard, President Barack Obama created a high-level federal team representing 24 agencies to consider a long-term recovery strategy for the states most affected. The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force was charged with preparing a report with recommendations on its findings with specific instructions to think ahead and consider long-term needs for the vulnerable Atlantic Coast states. And to recommend ways to reduce not only the devastation but also the high costs likely with respect to future disaster events. After working for roughly six months, the task force issued its report in August and also made plans to track the implementation actions by agencies and to work on ways to reduce the future federal outlays for future major weather events. Among the special features of this endeavor is the first-time use of an executive order to require 24 federal agencies to consider the long-term recovery process; the task force effort was linked with ongoing White House directives to deal with climate change and to foster more resilient communities; and follow-up processes were included to implement the recommendations provided by the report:
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Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters, and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes. That is the key conclusion of a two-year technical investigation by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into the impacts of the 22 May 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri. The recommendations are featured in a draft report issued for public comment today and announced at a press briefing held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. A NIST release reports that the NIST study is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior and emergency communication — and the impact of each on life-safety, the ability to protect people from injury or death. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes: