The University of New Orleans’ Center for Hazard Assessment, Response, and Technology (UNO-CHART), in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Governors’ Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), is implementing mitigation outreach and education projects intended to inform citizens, business owners, non-profit organizations and local officials about the risks to which they are vulnerable and ways in which those risks can be reduced through multiple mitigation methods. The education and outreach components for these projects reach across a variety of stakeholders, from decision makers to the most vulnerable populations. Each of the following five projects works toward increasing our ability to address potential disasters before they happen.
Continuity Planning for Community Organizations
Based on national best practices and information gathered from focus groups with stakeholders, the project team is holding community continuity regional workshops that focus on mitigation, risk assessment, resource identification, communications and information technology. Workshops are being conducted throughout the State (on site and via video conferences) and a manual is near completion that will allow others to conduct the initial training. The project team also continues to review and provide feedback on multiple participant continuity plans.
Hazards Resiliency Curriculum
This project aims to develop a multidisciplinary instructional program in disaster resilience studies throughout the various colleges and departments within the University of New Orleans. The goal is to produce community/regional leaders with strong professional capacities to support statewide mitigation. To date, the project team has developed:
- A hazard policy specialization within the public administration program
- A hazard mitigation planning specialization within the Master of Urban & Regional Planning program
- A minor in disaster resilience studies within the College of Liberal Arts
- New/revised courses with a focus on resilience
This project teaches concepts of disaster resilience through literacy programs and improving literacy through disaster resilience. Based on current practice and research on the issues surrounding literacy and disaster resilience, the project team has developed materials for literacy programs relying on curricula from the few programs that exist nationally and internationally. Stakeholder meetings were held to outline content and models for training. One segment of the curricula, a manual titled “Preparing for Storms in Louisiana,” has been created by the team and reviewed by multiple groups. The manual, one of the first of its kind, can be found online and below. A facilitator’s guide to accompany the manual has also been prepared. Both the manual and facilitator’s guide are available in print and via the Internet for use by a wide variety of agencies and programs across the state and country.
Disaster Resilient University Statewide Conference
UNO-CHART hosted the Disaster Resistant University Workshop 2011– Building Partnerships in Mitigation, from February 16-18, 2011 on UNO’s main campus. The workshop was attended by more than 100 participants representing 25 universities/colleges from around the country and Canada. Presentations were made by speakers from universities and state and federal agencies. Topics included, but were not limited to, mitigation program assessment, campus violence, risk communication, mitigation planning, risk assessment, floodproofing and instructional continuity.
Community Executives Program in Risk Management
The CHART team facilitated two Executive Symposia in Resilience and Risk Management. Held in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, these symposia were half-day workshops intended to enhance the capacity of community and business leaders to make strategic decisions related to risk management based on sound, scientific principles of resilience.