Hazards Planning Research Center


Through a variety of institutional partnerships and outreach activities, APA increases awareness of hazards and planning issues.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Crisis

Like millions of other Americans and people around the world, we at APA are deeply saddened by the impact in Japan of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and the subsequent nuclear power plant crisis. We also feel that these events strongly reinforce the logic of effective hazard mitigation and pre-event planning for post-disaster recovery and long-term reconstruction.

 It is important not only that Japanese in the affected areas get the immediate and long-term help they need, but that we all derive whatever important lessons can be gleaned from this experience, particularly those that can be discerned from research throughout the recovery process.

With that in mind, we offer an article by Robert B. Olshansky, AICP, Laurie A. Johnson, AICP, and Kenneth C. Topping, FAICP, from Built Environment, Vol. 32, No. 4 (2006), "Rebuilding Communities Following Disaster: Lessons from Kobe and Los Angeles," which examines those lessons of post-earthquake rebuilding that may be transferable between Japan and the U.S.

Ken Topping also wrote about lessons learned from the Kobe earthquake in his post on APA's Sustaining Places blog.

We thank Alexandrine Press for providing permission for APA to reproduce the article here for this purpose.

Digital CoastCurrent Project

NOAA Digital Coast

APA is a member of the Digital Coast Partnership, a group of organizations contributing content and focus to the Digital Coast. The Digital Coast is a website hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center to provide coastal and marine geospatial tools, data, training, and information for planners and allied professionals.

APA undertook the Digital Coast needs assessment survey in its first year of participation in Digital Coast, launching the survey online in November 2010 and closing in December 2010. In November 2011, APA released a report on the survey findings to outline the coastal and marine geospatial tools, data, training, and information needs of APA members involved in planning coastal communities along a marine coast, tidal estuary, or the Great Lakes.

Learn about the NOAA Digital Coast project

Read the complete Digital Coast Needs Assessment Survey results

Current Project

NFPA Wildfire Advisory Panel

The National Fire Protection Association has invited Hazards Planning Research Center manager Jim Schwab, AICP, to join its newly formed Wildland Fire Operations Division Advisory Committee to advise the organization on its long-standing Firewise Communities program.

APA has enjoyed fruitful relationships with NFPA in the past with regard to wildfire planning issues, including a contract in 2001-2002 to perform an assessment of the national Firewise Communities training program, and a subsequent contract to produce the 2005 PAS Report (No. 529/530), Planning for Wildfires, co-authored by Jim Schwab and Stuart Meck, FAICP. Schwab has also spoken at NFPA's Backyards and Beyond conferences and other wildfire-related events in recent years.

The panel consists currently of nine experts with recognized experience in issues related to wildfire mitigation and planning. APA has accepted this invitation. The committee met for the first time May 19-20, 2010, at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts, and produced a number of recommendations for NFPA's new Wildland Fire Operations Division. The committee is expected to meet again this fall to continue its work.

Wildland Fire Operations Advisory Committee

Michele Steinberg, Firewise Communities Program Manager, NFPA; Paul Cooper (facilitator); Cheryl Blake (NFPA); James Schwab* (American Planning Association); Sarah McCaffrey* (US Forest Service); Keith Worley* (Forestree Development LLC, Colorado); Nancy Oliver* (Taylor, Florida, Fire Department); Randy Bradley* (Moraga-Orinda, California, Fire District); Brenda O'Connor* (Institute for Business & Home Safety), Chris Heftel* (developer, River Bluff Ranch, Spokane, Washington), David Nuss (Director, NFPA, Wildland Fire Operations Division); Linda Coyle (NFPA).

National Building Museum

The Hazards Planning Research Center is participating on the advisory council for the National Building Museum's planned "Designing for Disaster" exhibit.

Past Projects

Visiting Fellowship in New Zealand

In 2008, Center Manager Jim Schwab, AICP, was invited by the Centre for Advanced Engineering in New Zealand (CAENZ), located at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, to serve as a Visiting Fellow, studying New Zealand hazards planning and offering consultation on national hazards policy. Schwab's trip lasted three weeks from July 25 to August 15, 2008, during which time he traveled the country, delivering seven different lectures and seminars, including presentation at the Australasian Natural Hazards Conference and to a joint meeting of staff members of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management.

A year later, in October 2009, Kristin Hoskin, who had managed Jim's itinerary for CAENZ, visited APA in Chicago, where she delivered a presentation and was interviewed for a podcast.

Jim Schwab's New Zealand presentations for CAENZ:

Integrating Hazard Mitigation into Local Planning (Otago) (pdf)

Integrating Hazard Mitigation into Local Planning (QLDC) (pdf)

Lessons Learnt from Disasters: Planning for Events & Recovery (pdf)

The Evolution of American Planning for Recovery after Disasters (pdf)

Audio: Interview with Kristin Hoskin

Audio: Kristin Hoskin's Presentation to APA

Hurricane Katrina

APA undertook a wide variety of initiatives to assist planners along the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which are detailed in a compendium on the APA website. The Hazards Planning Research Center manager was involved in several of these as well as fielding 40 news media calls in the two months after Hurricane Katrina struck. APA's ongoing engagement with the area continues in the current focus on Delta Urbanism.

Hurricane Ike

Hazards Planning Research Center manager Jim Schwab, AICP, participated on a panel at the Texas APA Chapter at its October 2009 annual conference in Galveston on Texas coastal community planning after Hurricane Ike, along with Professors Walter Peacock and Sam Brody of Texas A&M and Galveston planner Lori Schwartz. Schwab spoke on a panel addressing such issues at the chapter's February 2009 conference in El Paso, which took the place of the 2008 conference originally planned in Galveston but canceled when Hurricane Ike struck two weeks before the scheduled date.