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Inside This Issue
Tennessee Building Inspector Program
10th Conference on Earthquake Engineering
Health Dept. Symposium on Vulnerable Populations
CUSEC Spotlight: Mr. Rob Williams, USGS
NISC & ESRI Partner to Expand Virtual USA
Calendar & Upcoming Events
Did You Feel It?

View a list of recent earthquakes here...
Geocache Update

Summer is a great time to spend outdoors with your family and friends by going Geocaching

Since 2007, more than 2,150 people have visited CUSEC geocaches, which provide earthquake safety and mitigation info to site visitors.  As some visitors recently noted: 

"I think this is a great informative cache!

"Nice view of the river - We enjoyed reading the history (of the earthquakes)."

"This is an awesome cache!

To find a CUSEC geocache near you, see our cache listing page at the geocaching website.

Tennessee Enhancing Post-Disaster
Building Inspection Capabilities

Image courtesy Missouri State Emergency Management Agency Following a large earthquake, buildings are typically evaluated by design and construction professionals to determine their safety for re-entry or occupancy. A representative of the National Council of Structural Engineer Associations (NCSEA) recently estimated that thousands of these highly qualified experts will be needed for safety inspections following a major New Madrid earthquake.


To address this problem, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), CUSEC, and several professional organizations, are collaborating to enhance a post-disaster Building Inspector Resource Deployment (BIRD) framework in Tennessee. When complete, it will identify methods for recruiting, mobilizing, and managing volunteers to perform safety inspections following a disaster (including earthquakes). It will include engineers, architects, code officials, and other construction professionals. Currently, professional organizations working to build the Tennessee program include:


- American Council of Consulting Engineers (ACEC)

- Associated General Contractors of Tennessee (AGC)

- American Institute of Architects/Tennessee (AIA/TN)

- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

- Geotechnical Institute of the ASCE

- Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), Nashville Post

- Structural Engineers Association of Tennessee (TNSEA)


James Smithey, TNSEA, has led efforts to create an "Editing Board" with representatives from these organizations, and they are creating an administrative and operations plan for the program. This plan is based off of the Missouri SAVE Coalition plan for post-disaster building inspection procedures. Since April, the Editing Board has met twice to review plan drafts and address issues specific to TEMA procedures and Tennessee law. A third meeting is planned for August at TEMA headquarters in Nashville.


As part of NEHRP and the CAPSTONE-14 exercise, CUSEC has worked to create several resources for pre- and post-disaster building inspections. The goal is to test the BIRD framework in Tennessee and other states during the exercise. During an actual disaster situation, it is possible that professionals involved in the Tennessee program may be asked to assist other states.


This initiative is an outstanding example of how professional organizations can work with State government to create solutions to challenging disaster situations. CUSEC applauds Mr. Smithey, the Editing Board, and TEMA for their proactive approach to address a difficult and extremely important task. Their teamwork will enhance our safety and welfare following disasters.

EERI & NEES to Co-Host 10th National Conference
on Earthquake Engineering in 2014 

In collaboration with the George E. Brown, Jr., Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) will host the Tenth U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering on July 21- 25, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska. With its theme of "Frontiers of Earthquake Engineering," this conference will be held on the 50th anniversary of the Great Alaska Earthquake and Tsunami.  

The conference will bring together more than 1000 earthquake professionals from a broad range of disciplines putting them in a unique environment to share the latest knowledge and techniques to mitigate the devastating effects of earthquakes and tsunamis. Conference highlights will include:

  • Written papers that cover a wide range of essential issues important to earthquake engineers, scientists, policy makers and disaster professionals
  • Keynote presentations along with interactive panel discussions
  • Poster sessions to feature earthquake/tsunamis-related presentations
  • Breakout sessions led by distinguished experts and scholars
  • Field trips to historic Alaskan geological and engineering landmarks with the opportunity to walk along active faults      
For more information about the Tenth U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering, visit  

CUSEC Participates in Public Health Conference

On May 14, the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department hosted more than 200 representatives of various organizations, including CUSEC, at the Vulnerable Populations Emergency Preparedness Symposium. The purpose of this symposium was to provide attendees with critical information to enable them to give effective and supportive resources to vulnerable populations before, during and after an emergency.


Attendees included professionals in emergency management, emergency services, healthcare, social services, elderly and nursing home care and other areas. Symposium topics included:

  • Mental Health Preparedness
  • Pediatric Response
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Serving Functional Needs in Shelters and PODs
  • Blind/Visually Impaired Preparedness
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing Preparedness
  • Serving Non-English Speakers

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) requires that Health Departments have plans to serve and support vulnerable, or "at risk", populations for any emergency. Memphis and Shelby County Health Department's Risk Communications Coordinator, Heather Reynolds organized the symposium for individuals and organizations who make preparedness, planning and response their priority.  "There's no better way to address the needs of this sector of the public, other than to involve the community and organizations directly working with them," said Reynolds. 

To learn more about the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department's emergency preparedness and response program and its upcoming events, visit

CUSEC Spotlight: Five Questions with
Rob Williams of the US Geological Survey 


As Central and Eastern U.S. Earthquake Hazards Program Coordinator for the US Geological Survey (USGS), Rob Williams leads USGS activities dedicated to increasing the knowledge and communication of earthquake hazards. Since joining the USGS in 1983, Rob has worked in the areas of earthquake research and hazard assessment, leading numerous geologic and seismic imaging studies on faults, including the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). Rob works closely with CUSEC on the Great Central U.S. and SouthEast ShakeOut campaigns and also leads the St. Louis Area Earthquake Hazards Mapping Project (SLAEHMP). He also has played a key role on the New Madrid Bicentennial and 2012 National Earthquake Conference organizing committees.


A member of the Seismological Society of America (SSA), the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Rob holds advanced degrees from U.C. Berkeley and Colorado School of Mines. Read below to find out more about Rob's thoughts on 30 years "in the trenches" of earthquake hazard research and risk communication.


When did you start working in geology? I started working in geology in 1981 at a seismic exploration company called GeoSystems Inc. in Pasadena, CA after I graduated from U.C. Berkeley. 

What led you to pursue this field of work?  I knew in high school that I wanted to study geology in college, but I hadn't thought much about a job in Geology until I got close to graduation.  When I got the job at GeoSystems, Inc., I acquired skills in imaging the subsurface using a sonogram like process.  These skills helped me get a job at the USGS in 1983 to interpret images of the Earth's crust in California.  Growing up in California I had been interested in earthquakes, so this new job at the USGS was, in part, oriented toward understanding them.

During your career at the USGS, what has been your most memorable experience?  I think the most interesting time in my career has been during the New Madrid Bicentennial (events during 2011-2012) and the 2011 National Level Exercise. During this time my job changed to more of a coordinator role for the USGS in the Central and Eastern U.S., and I had many opportunities to convey USGS earthquake information with great people at CUSEC, FEMA, National Guard, State Geologic Surveys, local governments, news media, and the general public.  This was also during the time that CUSEC led the first Central U.S. ShakeOut, to which USGS provided geological expertise.
During your career you've worked with many different people and organizations (CUSEC in particular) on various initiatives. What lessons have you learned that have helped you be a better leader?  I've learned is that there is always a better way to get your point across. If I can't get the message out clearly, then I'm going to bring in other experts who have a different and perhaps first-hand experience, dealing with earthquakes and their impacts. 


Lessons learned from earthquakes around the world are crucial in communicating earthquake hazards and impacts.  The USGS is working to bring New Zealand engineers and geologists who lived through the Canterbury (Christchurch) earthquakes to Memphis.  These experts dealt with this damaging, costly earthquake sequence-daily-for over two years. Because of the similarities in the Canterbury earthquakes to the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes (multiple damaging earthquakes that caused multiple instances of damaging liquefaction), these professionals have a unique perspective and ability to communicate how important it is for communities to be prepared.

Also, I think it's easy for the general public, who are reading about earthquakes on the web and hearing about it in the news media, to get the idea that scientists know everything about earthquakes. Being clear, therefore, about what we don't know concerning earthquake causes and occurrence is (also) important.

In your line of work, you encounter people who don't take emergency or earthquake preparedness seriously. How do you deal with this?  It can be frustrating when I encounter people who have a fatalistic view of earthquakes and take no action to be better prepared.  For people who have never experienced a damaging earthquake or seen the consequences, it can be difficult (to motivate them) to improve their preparedness. There are so many easy ways (through resources at FEMA, CUSEC, RedCross, and USGS) to learn about ways to improve preparedness of your family and home.  These simple steps - the 7 Steps to Earthquake Safety - will contribute to improving your resilience to earthquakes.

To learn about the USGS Earthquake Program, visit

NISC and ESRI Partner to Expand Virtual USA 

The National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC) has announced its partnership with Esri, a world leader in geographic information systems (GIS), on using ArcGIS Online (AGOL) cloud technology as the primary platform for Virtual USA (vUSA).


Developed in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, vUSA uses GIS to make multi-jurisdictional information sharing and situational awareness possible across all levels of homeland security and emergency management.  NISC has recently partnered with DHS to provide governance and administration of vUSA technologies, and Esri has supported the initiative since 2010.   


By adopting AGOL, shared situational awareness and information sharing capabilities within vUSA are being accelerated in homeland security, public safety, first responder and emergency management organizations nationwide. Since 2009, at least six pilot projects, including one with the eight CUSEC Member States and FEMA during the 2011 National Level Exercise , have been conducted in more than 35 states, showcasing vUSA's ability to support near real-time information sharing for disaster operations and situational awareness.


You can visit to learn more about the Virtual USA Program.

Calendar & Upcoming Events

July 2013 

July 4 - Independence Day; CUSEC Office Closed

July 7-9 - NISC Annual Summit; San Diego, CA 

July 13-16 - 38th Natural Hazards Workshop, Broomfield, CO
July 15 - ATC-20 Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings; Glenview, IL 

July 18 - Arkansas Governor's Earthquake Advisory Council, Jacksonville, AR
July 24 - ATC-20 Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings; Russellville, AR
July 31 - R.O.V.E.R. Overview & Information; Webinar


August 2013

August 2 - ATC-20 Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings ; Jonesboro, AR August 14-16 - CUSEC Board of Directors Meeting; Washington, D.C.
August 22-23 - FEMA154 Rapid Visual Screening of Buildings for Potential Seismic Hazards; Webinar
August 23 - ATC-20 Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings; Webinar
August 23 - ATC-20 Post-Earthquake Safety Evaluations of Buildings; O'Fallon, Illinois 


To view more upcoming events, please visit our website calendar.