Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly released a video to kick off the official start of hurricane season, which began on June 1st.
Secretary Kelly urged Americans in the potential path of a hurricane to know their risk, prepare, and stay informed.
Secretary Kelly also reiterated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue to work closely with their private sector, state, and local partners to detect, prepare, and respond to the threat of natural disasters.
(Watch Secretary Kelly’s video message. Courtesy of the Department of Homeland Security and YouTube)
Secretary Kelly visited the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida for an operational briefing regarding the 2017 hurricane season.
Secretary Kelly was joined by Florida Governor Rick Scott and officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center, as well as FEMA’s Hurricane Liaison Team.
(Sec. Kelly, Gov. Rick Scott remarks at National Hurricane Center in Miami. Jun 1, 2017. Courtesy of CHANNEL90seconds newscom and YouTube)
(We make our cities more resilient by looking how we responded to the last disaster. S&T looks at what happened in the past, and we want to create plans to strengthen our critical infrastructure 20 years into the future! Courtesy of DHS Science and Technology Directorate and YouTube)
Through the engagement of and partnership with first responders and the emergency preparedness and response community, the First Responders Group (FRG) pursues a better understanding of the response community’s needs and requirements, provides technical assistance, and develops innovations to the most pressing challenges faced during day-to-day and large-scale emergencies.
These efforts are occurring at every stage of technology and solution development, and are involving first responders at the local, state, tribal and federal levels.
(Learn More, courtesy of DHS S&T and YouTube)
Four men trapped under as much as 10 feet of bricks, mud and other debris have been rescued in Nepal thanks to a new search-and-rescue technology developed in partnership by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The device called FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats of victims trapped in wreckage. Following the April 25 earthquake in Nepal, two prototype FINDER devices were deployed to support search and rescue teams in the stricken areas.
FINDER can detect a human heartbeat buried beneath 30 feet of crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet in open spaces.
(Learn More, courtesy of DHS S&T and YouTube)
Destructive flooding is a growing threat across much of the United States, claiming more and more lives and property each year.
S&T’s Flood Apex program addresses the threat on several levels and draws on the experience of vulnerable communities such as Austin and New Orleans to guide research and experimentation.
DHS Science and Technology Directorate National Hurricane Program Technology Modernization Hurricane Evacuation Study Tool
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Hurricane Program (NHP), created in 1985 and revamped by the 2006 Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, helps protect communities and residents from hurricane hazards by providing evacuation preparedness technical assistance to State, local, and tribal governments.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and FEMA are co-sponsoring an effort to modernize technology components of the NHP.
One of these components is the Hurricane Evacuation Study (HES), which addresses planning and impact assessments for coastal regions.
This study assesses the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and population to hurricane hazards, taking into account the local population’s typical behavior and provides guidance to local emergency managers for evacuating at-risk population to shelters or other destinations.
The key outputs of HES are surge maps, evacuation zones, planning data and a matrix of clearance times−which are the number of hours it takes to move the threatened population to safety given various factors such as storm category, tourist occupancy, and public responsiveness.
Cost and Time Savings
The current HES process is manual, costly and can take up to several years to complete.
To streamline this process, the NHP Technology Modernization Program is developing an automated HES tool that will reduce the cost and time requirements of the HES process by up to 70%.
This tool will calculate HES results in real time, making the process more transparent and efficient, which will allow for more frequent updates to hurricane plans and more efficient evacuations.
Results of the HES will be more readily reusable and standardized across the nation, while still allowing customization at the local level, which will improve the nation’s overall hurricane preparedness.
Modeling and Simulation Capability
The HES tool leverages SHERPA (SUMMIT for Homeland Emergency Response and Planning Analysis), an existing modeling and simulation capability at Sandia National Laboratories.
SHERPA is a modular software framework than enables users to link together suites of models and data sources.
The HES tool is implemented in SHERPA as a template that links three models: Hazard Analysis, (2) Evacuation Zone Generator, and (3) Transportation Analysis. The modular framework of SHERPA enables output from one model to be used as input to another, with new models to be added quickly and different models to fit into each slot.
For example, the HES tool uses RtePM, the Real time evacuation Planning Model for transportation analysis, but a different evacuation model such as TIME, a model used by emergency managers in the state of Florida, could be incorporated and used instead.
Adaptable, Guided by National Weather Service Data
The HES tool looks up inundation forecast data created by the National Hurricane Center and either automatically generates evacuation zones based on inundation height, or allows the user to draw their own evacuation zones.
Evacuation zones, road networks and end-points are passed to a transportation analysis model, along with parameters defined by the behavioral analysis such as evacuation rate, response time and population going to shelters, etc.
The transportation analysis yields clearance times and evacuation data over time such as population remaining in the evacuation area, road congestion and population at each end-point.
A user can run an analysis in batch mode with varied inputs.
This capability enables the user to perform a sensitivity analysis, which determines how evacuation scenarios might change with changes in behavior.
For example, an analyst can efficiently answer questions like “how does my clearance time change if fewer people evacuate than expected?” and “how does congestion on the road change if more people go to shelters?”