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National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

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Comments on Chapter 1 of the 20082012 Draft Strategic Plan (28)

  • Comment (page 1, line 7): Do earthquakes pose the greatest natural danger in the United States? How is natural danger to be measured? Dollar loss? Deaths? Annualized loss?
  • Comment (page 1, line 12): Consider adjusting the 2003 dollars to 2008 dollars.
  • Comment (page 1, line 14–15): That earthquakes strike without prior warning is the prevailing view among seismologists since the 1980s. It has since taken on a dogmatic character. However, this view is based on the failure to recognize the possibility, in fact, existence of pre-EQ signals. All seismological models are retrospective: they use data from past events to estimate the probability of future events. This statistical game can indeed never reduce the time window of coming EQs below many years.

    The only hope to make progress is to include pre-EQ processes and start a vigorous research program to understand the physics that underlies the generation of recognizable pre-EQ signals.

    Suggestion: has not been possible until now to predict them...
  • Comment (page 1, line 17): Much of the damage in Kobe was not to the "modern built environment." Most of the damaged buildings and bridges were 30 to 40 years old at the time of the earthquake. [M]any of the deaths were due to fire in housing stock that cannot be found in the United States.
  • Comment (page 1, line 22–27): Large earthquake in the New England Region (6.5M) is not included. M7 is arbitrary and earthq[ua]kes 6.0 and larger in the Northeast would result in significant damage exceeding $42 Billion and killi[n]g over 1500 people.

    Suggestion: In the past 375 years earthquakes M6.5 or greater have occurred in Alaska, California, South Carolina, the Intermountain West, the Missi[ssi]ppi River Valley and New England.

    (Source for 6.5 Earthquake in New England is USGS Fact Sheet FS-006-01, Febru[ar]y 2001)
  • Comment (page 1, line 26): This area of the country is referred to by USGS and other agencies as the central US.

    The use of Mississippi River Valley is inconstant with other references within the strategic plan which site "central US"—p.[2] line 35/36.

    Suggestion: Change to central US
  • Comment (page 2, line 2): What evidence is there to support the statement that we "underestimate the true earthquake risk?" I suspect that we do not really know what our exposure is.
  • Comment (page 2, line 3): The potential risk to US Urban areas is understated in the Introduction. Suggested text from the USGS is noted below

    Suggestion: "The USGS has identified twenty-six urban areas in the United States at risk to significant seismic activity: Albuquerque, N. Mex, A[n]chorage, Alaska, Boise, Idaho, Boston, MA. Charleston, S.C, Chattanooga-Knoxville, Tenn., Eugene-Springfield, Oreg., Evansville, Ind., Fresno, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., Los Angeles, Calif., Memphis, Tenn., New York, N.Y., Portland, Oreg., Provo-Orem, Utah, Reno, Nev., Sacramento, Calif., St. Louis, Mo., Salinas, Calif., Salt Lake City, Utah, San Diego, Calif., Sa[n] Francisco-Oakland, Calif., San Juan, P.R., Santa Barbara, Calif., Seattle, Wash., Stockton-Lodi, Calif."

    (Source USGS Fact Sheet 2006-3016, March 2006, Earthquakes a National Threat)
  • Comment (page 2, line 37): How does on[e] extrapolate "large earthquakes in other regions" to estimate "estimate hazards from larger earthquakes.."?

    Text is not clear.
  • Comment (page 3, line 11): Suggest to replace by: "Earthquakes cannot be predicted not prevented"

    Reader unfamiliar with earthquake engineering may not realize that earthquake prediction is not a mature science.
  • Comment (page 4, line 18): Add "such" before "as risk perception"
  • Comment (page 4, line 32): Our standards of practice do not ensure public safety, rather, they seek to prevent a substantial loss of life. Consider alternate wording.
  • Comment (page 4, line 40–42): The last sentence seems out of place.

    There is no expectation that a construction-related business (or a few businesses) will meet the national challenge.

    Suggestion: Delete the sentence.
  • Comment (page 5, line 9): Expand the list of NEHRP Achievements to include more information on advances relating to the seismic evaluation and rehabilitation of existing buildings.
  • Comment (page 5, line 13): It's more than physics

    Leaves out the contributions of other disciplines

    Suggestion: "Earthquake Research"
  • Comment (page 5, line 15): Add "of" after "propagation"
  • Comment (page 5, line 23): I believe the number is higher. 160,000 or so. Not accurate as is.

    Suggestion: assessments at more than 150,000 points throughout the country.
  • Comment (page 5, line 25): Provide the full title of the NEHRP Recommended Provisions.
  • Comment (page 5, line 26): At the end of the sentence, refer also to NEHRP developed guidelines and standards for the seismic evaluation and rehabilitation of existing buildings (these are equally important to the codes for new buildings)
  • Comment (page 5, line 32): How is earthquake risk reduction achieved through the adoption of the model building codes? Do you mean reduction with respect to past codes? If so, consider saying so.
  • Comment (page 5, line 35): What "advanced earthquake engineering analysis techniques" are being described here?

    Text is not clear.
  • Comment (page 5, line 39): Add ", engineering guidelines development" after "NEHRP-led research" (nothing has happened as a result of research alone).
  • Comment (page 6, line 27–28): NEES does not enable "testing of earthquake engineering design" but rather testing of standard engineering components and small assemblies of components.

    Suggestion: Revise the description of NEES.
  • Comment (page 6, line 31): Add new bullets, or integrate into the existing bullets, achievements relating to the following: (1) new methods for reducing the seismic hazards of nonstructural components; (2) the development and introduction of new technologies, such as seismic isolation and energy dissipation; (3) the execution and implementation of program planning for reducing seismic hazards of existing buildings (a major FEMA achievement); (4) the SAC project, under which an extensive research and development program (involving the nation's leading researchers and practitioners) was carried out to solve the problem of poor weld performance in steel moment frame buildings during the 1994 Northridge; (5) the development of new seismic analysis methods, including simplified methods for use in design (by the average practitioner); and (6) research resulting in new methods and approaches for performance-based seismic design of buildings (which are now being turned into a practical reality on the ATC-58 project).
  • Comment (page 7, line 6): No background map is presented in the figure. The insets are of Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Comment (page 7, line 11): Disagree that response is not addressed

    NEHRP has either directly or indirectly contributed enormously to emergency response. Consider the derivative products of ANSS: ShakeMap, real-time source data, input data for HAZUS, CISN Display. All are response oriented and very important.

    Suggestion: Delete first sentence or, better yet, delete the whole section (line 10, page 7 through line 7, page 8
  • Comment (page 7, line 11): How can you evaluate an action i.e. response and recovery (p.[vii] line 28) and not offer post earthquake response guidance to some degree?

    Those states which have their earthquake program in non-mitigation program areas are still "earthquake professionals" (p.[vii] line 33) and as such should have actions within the NEHRP St[ra]tegic Plan they can identify with.

    Suggestion: This Strategic Plan emphasizes pre-earthquake mitigation as the primary focus of NEHRP although post earthquake actions to respond to and recover from earthquakes are an important element.
  • Comment (page 7, line 13): The statement only conveys a portion [o]f the FEMA responsibility ..."executing the National Response Fram[e]work..." leading the reader to believe there are no other FEMA NEHRP responsibilities beyond risk reduction.

    Large percentage of the earthquake programs in the US fall in non-mitigation areas, i.e. operations, planning. Failure to provide actions spelled out in the 2004 re-authorization for response and recovery under DHS/FEMA will in essence cut them out of the implementation of NEHRP due to program boundaries at the state level.

    Suggestion: include "...and support the development of specific State and local plans for each high risk area to ensure the availability of adequate emergency medical resources, search and rescue personnel and equipment, and emergency broadcast capability;"

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