The 2019 National Earthquake Program Managers (NEPM) Meeting was held April 23rd-26th, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Federal Emergency Management’s (FEMA) Earthquake Program, Consortia, and Partners attended the meeting along with Regional and State Earthquake Program Managers to share ideas and collaborate on how to promote earthquake safety across the Nation.
In 1977, Congress created the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and charged it with the responsibility of reducing the loss of life and property caused by earthquake damage. While NEHRP is periodically reviewed and reauthorized (the most recent authorization was in 2018), the program’s four goals have remained unchanged.
- Develop effective practices and policies for earthquake loss reduction and accelerate their implementation.
- Improve techniques for reducing earthquake vulnerabilities of facilities and systems.
- Improve earthquake hazards identification and risk assessment methods, and their use.
- Improve the understanding of earthquakes and their effects.
The four NEHRP agencies administer numerous programs that reduce the risk to loss of life and property associated with earthquake damage. To facilitate this, the NEHRP agencies work to provide funding and guidance to states, local governments, academia, private sector, and non-profit organizations. Collectively, these groups (NEHRP Agencies and their hundreds of partners) make up the “Earthquake Program.” These agencies include:
- Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security
- National Institute of Standards and Technology of the Department of Commerce (NIST is the lead NEHRP agency)
- National Science Foundation
- United States Geological Survey of the Department of the Interior
Key to the program are State Earthquake Program Managers. This group is made up of State Emergency Management Agency representatives who actively plan and prepare to reduce earthquake related losses in their states.
The annual NEPM meeting began as a way for groups who combat earthquake loss and damage to discuss their efforts and learn from each other.
This year’s NEPM consisted of training sessions, presentations on new implementations to the NEHRP Program, an educational field trip, state report-outs, a FEMA/Consortia and state break-out session, as well as many other activities that informed attendees of current initiatives in the world of earthquake preparedness.
One of the highlights from NEPM was the educational field trip on the second day of the meeting. This was a great opportunity for everyone to network and explore sites in Salt Lake City. The field trip included a tour of the Utah State Capitol retrofit, lunch at the Utah State Emergency Operations Center, driving along the Wasatch Front to Gilbert Geologic Park, and a tour of the University of Utah seismograph stations. Below is a photo taken of Gilbert Geologic Park.
Another valuable part of NEPM was the state report-outs. The report-outs allow time for State Earthquake Program Managers to highlight earthquake safety projects that have been implemented in their respective states. Some notable projects include:
- The Washington Emergency Management Division’s youth video contest. The contest was created to engage middle school and high school students with The Great Washington ShakeOut. For more information on the video contest, visit: https://www.shakeout.org/washington/resources/.
- The Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s earthquake and tsunami comic book series. The state partnered with DarkHorse Comics to create a set of comic books titled, Without Warning! to inform readers about earthquakes and tsunamis. To view the Without Warning! comic books, visit: https://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/Pages/Preparedness-Publications.aspx.
- The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency’s annual Earthquake Summit. The state created this event to provide professionals in Southeast Missouri an opportunity to discuss earthquake preparedness and response. For more information on the Earthquake Summit, visit: https://sema.dps.mo.gov/earthquake_preparedness/summit.php.
- The Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Quake Cottage. The Quake Cottage informs citizens of the dangers that can occur during an earthquake by providing them with a safe yet realistic experience of the shaking that can occur. To learn more about Indiana’s Quake Cottage, visit: https://igws.indiana.edu/Preparedness/QuakeCottage.
- The Nevada State Hazard Mitigation Office’s street and highway billboards. These billboards were created to aware the public of preventative earthquake safety measures such as, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” For more information on earthquake safety in Nevada, visit: http://dem.nv.gov/Resources/Earthquake_Information(1)/.
Great progress was made throughout the four-day meeting which allowed attendees to leave with new ideas to implement to their programs in order to promote the ultimate mission of NEHRP.
For more information on NEPM, visit: EQProgram.net.