Comprehensive Government Emergency Management

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the USA has an emergency management approach that encompasses 4 phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. This collection of solutions and blocks provides a quick summary of resources on this topic.

Adapt the region’s infrastructure systems

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Infrastructure systems are vital to making our city run. Across the region, New Yorkers rely on infrastructure systems every day to light and heat their homes, obtain drinking water, get to work, and access information. However, these infrastructure assets require regular repairs and upgrades to remain operable and adapt for resiliency. The City will, therefore, continue to pursue programs to coordinate investments across agencies and other infrastructure providers. The City commits to repairing critical infrastructure systems damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, while mitigating future climate risks through billions of dollars in funds from FEMA's public assistance grant program. The City is providing a required local match of funds in order to secure these resources. Working with other regional partners, the City will invest in the resiliency of its transportation infrastructure, including ferries, tunnels, movable bridges, traffic signals, and streets, through the elevation or dry-proofing of facilities and systems, the hardening of conduits, enhanced continuity of operations planning, and mitigation strategies, such as hardening of street ends and green infrastructure for storm water management.

Adopt policies to support coastal protection

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In order to strengthen the city’s coastal defenses effectively, policies must be aligned and adopted to support the right investments in coastal protection and ensure those investments are operated and maintained effectively. As new assets are built, it will be necessary for the City to have a more effective management plan for waterfront assets. To address this need, the City will continue to upgrade its waterfront management tools and fund citywide waterfront inspections to assess and better manage its assets. The City will also explore new governance models to support the completion and long-term operation of integrated coastal resiliency measures, based on national and international best practices.

Attract new funds for vital coastal protection projects

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The City’s $3.7 billion coastal protection plan is nearly 50 percent funded and moving forward. But significant portions of the plan still require additional funds for implementation. To address this need, the City will continue to identify and secure new sources of funds to reduce coastal flooding risk. In partnership with USACE, a new feasibility study for New York Harbor and its tributaries will launch in 2015. It is intended to result in new projects that can be authorized and funded in New York City, in accordance with the City’s coastal protection plan. To advance elements of its full-build coastal protection plan, the City is conducting its own feasibility studies of several investment opportunities, including at Coney Island Creek, Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal, and Lower Manhattan. These studies are being conducted to inform future USACE studies, and are intended to strengthen the City’s ability to secure additional funds. The City will also seek out new sources of funding. HUD is currently running a National Disaster Resilience Competition which will fund innovative resiliency measures that strengthen communities. The City has already submitted its phase one application to this competition.

Community Resilience Center Program

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We will connect residents with the city by partnering with community-based organizations to launch the Community Resilience Center (CRC) Program and provide free disaster supply “caches” and disaster planning assistance to community-based organizations, including large apartment buildings, social service providers, and cultural centers. CRCs will serve as hosts for training and conduits to information and support tailored to the needs of the people in the community.

Community centers as emergency shelters

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We will create safe and green community centers, care and shelter facilities distributed across the city. These facilities can provide overnight sheltering, food distribution, and other services to those in need, while providing essential services on a daily basis to thousands of Berkeley residents, including seniors and youth, creating critical, multi-benefit facilities in our community.

Continuity of all critical life-safety services


Recent events have highlighted the extreme vulnerabilities and interdependencies of core life-safety infrastructure and utilities (e.g. energy, water and sanitation) and the need for their combined secure, continuous operation during crisis. Advance planning for large-scale, high-impact events is critical to ensuring that these incidents do not overwhelm either immediate response capabilities or the long-term well-being of highly vulnerable segments of Boulder’s community. The city will design and implement a community wide network of resilience centers that ensures continuity of critical community services, protection for high-risk populations and infrastructure, and an enhanced capacity to provide and maintain basic services at a neighborhood scale, and develop the capacity to ‘island’ critical infrastructure provision without jeopardizing core life-safety functions. These resilience centers will contain small-scale or compartmentalized infrastructure systems that can operate independent of the larger utility system to sustain a sheltering facility during wide-scale disruption.

Crowdsourced mapping of earthquake damage

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Following humanitarian crisis or natural disasters, volunteers for OpenStreetMap (OSM) quickly digitise satellite imagery in order to support the emergency response of e.g. humanitarian organisations active in the affected cities or countries with up-to-date maps and data. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) coordinates the efforts and links the OSM community to humanitarian organisations. The 2015 Nepal earthquake, for example, presented particular challenges for first responders and relief workers, as many roads and buildings in the affected area don't appear on official maps. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) seeks to change this by leveraging the power of crowdsourcing. Using wiki-based online open-source mapping tools, volunteers from around the world can learn to add critical map data locating buildings and infrastructure in as little as 45 minutes. Within 72 hours after the disaster, online volunteers had mapped over 100,000 buildings, giving relief workers access to critical data. Over the weeks following a disaster, HOT refines initial data points into high-quality atlases, ensuring that recovery and rebuilding efforts can proceed as efficiently as possible.

Disaster Cost Recovery Strategic Plan

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To strengthen economic recovery and assistance, we’ll maximize the City’s ability to receive and retain federal funding. This will include the creation of a comprehensive Disaster Cost Recovery Strategic Plan and staff training for the City to ensure that its plans and policies are fully-compliant with Federal regulations before the next catastrophe. Overall, these steps are expected to form the foundation of Berkeley’s recovery and save the City hundreds of millions of dollars.

Disaster recovery planning

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Rio will work with local first responders as well as international humanitarian aid organizations to devise a disaster recovery plan. By working with those who will be involved in recovery effort, including firefighters, civil defense, social welfare, and various government agencies, the city will improve its ability to respond quickly and effectively. The Plan will include an inventory of physical and intellectual resources from the entire metropolitan area, and include instructions for how citizens can participate in recovery efforts.

Elevated Infrastructure Corridors

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Infrastructure keeps systems running, but is often located in low-lying or unprotected conditions. Infrastructure corridors can be raised incrementally to accompany the rise in floods and storm surge. The first phase introduces precast utility trenches with sidewalks on top to allow evacuation. The second phase raises the roadway. The third phase elevates development to meet increasing base flood elevation requirements. When the corridor is complete, it provides continuity for transportation and utility infrastructure for the neighborhood, allowing people to shelter in place.

Evacuation Traffic Control Plan

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Building on Berkeley’s existing fire readiness and response efforts, the City will develop a robust wildfire evacuation traffic control plan for the Berkeley Hills. The City has made progress over the years – reducing its wildfire vulnerability through improved building codes, aggressive vegetation management, and fire training and response partnerships with area fire departments – and the plan will further focus on the area’s unique geography and transportation challenges, establishing evacuation zones, routes, and necessary staffing and communication protocols.

Flexible flood prevention barriers

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As a response to the massive structural and financial damages to transport infrastructures from hurrican Sandy in 2012, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is installing a variety of flood-prevention systems across its network. As surface-level subway entrances and stairwells are one of the most vulnerable points and easily allow stormwater to flood into stations and tunnels, ICL Dover, a product engineering firm, has developed 'Flex-Gate'. Flex-Gate is a soft cover that is based on technology and learnings from spacesuit design. It can be installed above entrances and deployed within minutes, thus preventing stormwater to damage transport infrastructure. The flexible barrier is made from layers of coated fabric and a structural Kevlar webbing and, when not in use, sits in a dedicated storage box above the entrance. The installation does not require additional reinforcement, which makes it easy to upgrade existing infrastructure and helps to keep costs down.

Improve emergency preparedness and planning

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Resiliency starts with preparation. Securing physical assets for emergency response such as a power generators, light towers and others are a critical first step. The City, through NYC Emergency Management (NYC EM), will expand public education efforts so that all New Yorkers know the risks they face during extreme weather events and other disasters, and how to prepare and respond. The City will invest in emergency shelter sites to accommodate 120,000 New Yorkers with disabilities—an improvement on the current capacity of 10,000—and will retro t shelters to have accessible entrances, restrooms, and other aspects of universal design. We will strive to ensure vulnerable populations that need shelter are provided with adequate transportation services. The City will also continue working to identify additional accessible sites throughout the five boroughs that can serve as emergency service centers.

Institutionalizing resilience-building protocols

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We're also looking forward to institutionalizing the resilience-building protocols being put in place for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The work has already started, with local, state and federal authorities conducting training simulations of low-, medium-, and high-risk scenarios involving shocks and stresses related to extreme weather, infrastructure failures, and crime.

Integrated Planning

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This approach considers forces across the watershed not as separate problems, but as part of an interconnected solution. The upland, riparian condition requires daylighting rivers, restoring stream edges, and enhancing their capacity to store stormwater. In the urban core, green drainage corridors, the separation of combined sewer outfall, and floodproof buildings protect people and property. At the coastal edge, shoreline stabilization, berms, and surge barriers claim the water’s edge. Connections from the coast to the uplands promote the flow of people and water through the city.

Mitigation and Education


The primary strategy for saving lives during a tsunami is to evacuate people from the hazard zone. Tsunami evacuation products are prepared and distributed before an event to increase preparedness and provide the base information required for implementing emergency response plans and evacuation protocols put into play when a tsunami notification is issued. Ideally evacuation maps should include the area at risk, the evacuation routes, the safety zones, assembly areas, and evacuation sites. Consideration can also be given for vertical evacuation if appropriate to the local topography and community. Uniformity in these maps will aid in their clearer interpretation as people travel between different states, territories, and commonwealths. Nevertheless it is important to note that the evacuation maps need to be tailored for population differences, vulnerable populations, and high risk or special facilities located in the hazard zone

Neighborhood disaster preparedness liaisons

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We will foster neighbor-to-neighbor connections to advance disaster readiness and strengthen the community before and after a major disaster, when government resources and assistance may not be available immediately and socially isolated seniors and residents with disabilities are especially vulnerable. In partnership with local community leaders, we’ll identify Neighborhood Disaster Preparedness Liaisons to serve as conduits for nearby residents to provide training, information, and other support.

Recreational space for disaster refuge

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In the reconstruction following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Tokyo incorporated a number of open spaces within the fabric of the city that served as recreational space for residents as well as acted as refuge spaces during disasters. This dual-use addressed the lack of refuge spaces within the city for people, an aspect that contributed significantly to the loss of over 140,000 lives during the earthquake and subsequent fires. Building on this resourceful utilisation of open space, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to build 185 acres of 'refuge parks' by 2020. Besides adding to the city's green space, refuge parks will provide refuge and facilities to residents in the critical 72 hours following a disaster. Features include: solar-powered lampposts equipped with power outlets to charge mobile phones and electric bicycles; emergency toilets hidden under manhole covers; drinking water reservoirs; food stores; and cooking stoves incorporated into benches. The Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, near the city’s harbour, would act as central information hub in the event of a major disaster such as an earthquake, with dedicated facilities to help coordinate disaster response efforts across the city.

Seismic upgrade support for housing

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Finally, we’ll also continue to improve the seismic safety of Berkeley’s most vulnerable apartment buildings, which will help protect thousands of residents, including many low income residents in our community. Using a combination of technical assistance, requirements, as well as financial incentives in the form of tax rebates to encourage owners to retrofit houses, the City will further remove barriers to seismic upgrades in vulnerable buildings.

Strengthen the city’s coastal defenses

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Prior to 2013, the City had never adopted a comprehensive coastal protection plan to reduce the risk of coastal flooding and sea level rise. With the release of A Stronger, More Resilient New York, the City now has a comprehensive coastal protection plan in place and has already taken steps to implement its first phase, which includes a $3.7 billion program of infrastructure investments, natural area restorations, and design and governance upgrades. The City will, as funds continue to be identified, make progress on the entire plan. Over the next ten years, the City will strengthen its coastal defenses by completing many vital projects in all five boroughs, including: • An integrated flood protection system for the east side of Manhattan and in Lower Manhattan south of Montgomery Street to the northern end of Battery Park City • Armored levee and stormwater management on the East Shore of Staten Island, in partnership with USACE • Investments on the Rockaway peninsula beaches and in Jamaica Bay, as part of the USACE Rockaway Reformulation, plus further investments in Breezy Point • An integrated flood protection system in Red Hook, in partnership with the State • More listed in resources

Strengthen the technical capacity of civil servants to build resilience

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Resilience depends largely on the ability of people to be prepared, transform themselves, respond, and survive in the face of destructive events that can occur in the place where they live. This is particularly important for civil servants, who are responsible for meeting the needs of others during emergencies, so it is necessary to strengthen their capacities. Building the response capacities of civil servants helps them make critical decisions in emergency situations and prioritize assistance to the population. This knowledge also helps civil servants to create long-term public policies that increase the security of citizens.

Work to reform FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

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As the city’s coastal communities continue to be threatened by escalating flood risk and rising FEMA NFIP premiums, the City will pursue a comprehensive set of activities to promote investments in physical risk reduction and better policies, including those that promote NFIP affordability. This includes conducting several studies to evaluate recent NFIP changes and their impacts on urban environments, reviewing federal studies while they are being drafted, and working with FEMA to institute reforms based on the results of these studies. The City wants to be sure the public understands its flood risk and flood insurance purchase requirements, and is already conducting frequent outreach meetings and developing further public education campaign materials for city residents living in and near the floodplain. This flood insurance consumer education campaign seeks to inform as many people as possible about their flood risk through advertisements on public transportation and radio, as well as at community events and through elected officials, with two key messages for consumers: understand your risk and flood insurance purchase requirements and purchase flood insurance.