What We Need To Know About Presidential Disaster DR-4413

A massive M7.0 earthquake rocked Anchorage, Alaska on November 30, 2018. Working alongside FEMA, our Hazus team rapidly stepped up and generated accurate analysis of building damage, economic losses, displaced households, and shelter needs. The analysis results were distributed for operational use within hours of the earthquake.

Hazus-generated damage analysis was very close to the actual findings Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDA) submitted by the state of Alaska. So close, that Hazus results were included in the state governor Dunleavy’s official request to the White House for Presidential Disaster Declaration.

On Jan 31, 2019 the Alaska Earthquake was declared a major disaster DR-4413 (https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4413)

Hazus is a GIS-enabled tool, used to assess and mitigate the impacts of natural hazards including earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis. When input with the right parameters and inventory data, it can formulate direct costs for repair of damaged buildings, casualties, displaced population, quantity of debris, and other economic impacts. It can also provide estimated restoration times for critical facilities like hospitals, transportation, and utility systems.

How does a Hazus User generate earthquake damage estimates and loss-of-function for lifeline systems?

In a simplified form, steps to assess and mitigate consist of:

  • Selection the area to be studied, based on census tract, county, or state. It is generally desirable to select an area that is under the jurisdiction of an existing regional planning group
  • Specify the magnitude and location of the scenario earthquake and potential fault locations (for actual earthquakes Hazus provides an online interface to the near real-time USGS ShakeMaps resulting in direct use of the authoritative hazard products, faster and more accurate results)
  • Provide additional information describing local soil and geological conditions

Using embedded formulas, Hazus computes:

  • Probability distribution of damages to different classes of buildings and facilities.
  • Estimates of direct economic loss, casualties, and shelter needs.  
  • Estimates of the number of fire following earthquake ignitions, extent of fire spread, amount and type of building debris. Hazus is a powerful and elaborate tool. For effective and accurate estimation, the user plays a major role, as much as the software itself. Having been involved in the development and modernization of Hazus software, its methodology and databases, our team enjoys the vantage position of utilizing Hazus to its utmost potential.

We hope for a speedy disaster recovery for the affected population.

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