Category: Mitigation and Recovery Planning

Post by Claudette Hanks Reichel, Ed.D., LSU AgCenter Professor, Extension Housing Specialist and Director, LaHouse Resource Center  |  |  (225) 578-2378

healthy homes

With the spreading floods and other disasters, I want to alert EDENites to a set of new, free educational materials from HUD for dealing with damaged homes. These differ from many other materials I’ve seen in that the core thread is “health”, both during and after recovery.

When homes are damaged, disaster survivors face the daunting and dangerous task of clean-up and repairs – often with little or no professional help. All are eager to restore their homes and lives quickly, yet many are not aware of all the hazards that can be worsened by the process.

To alleviate that, various educational resources were recently developed through the U.S. Dept. of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes working with Cooperative Extension Service and others. They’re now available from web site’s Post Disaster Recovery and Resources link under Popular Topics.

The flagship “how-to” guide is Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy HomeIt’s a detailed, highly-illustrated reference to help homeowners, volunteers and other workers safely restore homes damaged by any type of natural disaster – from floods and storms, to wildfire and earthquakes – to end up with more than just a livable home, but to protect the future wellbeing of their families.

Screenshot 2016-01-08 14.11.51
Content includes the Top 10 Tips; personal protective gear; assessing structural and health hazards; work preparation; best practices for clean-out, gutting, decontamination and repair; ways to “restore for more than before” with resilient, energy-saving and healthy home improvements; and, other resources. Content conforms to new federal interagency recommendations for dealing with mold, lead, asbestos and radon after disasters.

This 72-page guidebook was extensively reviewed and refined by disaster survivors and stakeholders from across the nation, including Extension housing specialists; I was primary author. It’s available as a free online pdf file that can be printed in whole or part, as well as a free mobile app for both iPhone and Android devices (search Rebuild Healthy Homes in the app stores).

Other Disaster Resources

Don’t forget about the app!

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The Climate Prediction Center recently issued its 90-day outlook for temperature and precipitation for the U.S. It also updated the drought monitor tool.

off01_tempIn general the outlook calls for the next three months to feature above normal temperatures in the western third of the country and in the far southeastern states. Alaska and the Pacific Northwest will also be warmer than usual. Below normal temperatures are confined to much of Texas and areas of adjoining states. Most of the country will see an equal chance for above or below normal temperatures.


off01_prcpMuch of the nation may experience above normal precipitation from the southeast through the gulf states to the western plains and Rockies along with a good portion of Alaska. The above normal rainfall may bring drought relief to Texas and the four corners area. The Great Lakes states will see below normal precipitation and the potential of a developing drought. Lake levels and fire danger may be impacted.


drought 90The drought monitor shows little change in the near term for the hardest hit areas of the west, parts of Texas, and parts of the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Over the 90 day period of the outlook, the drought may ease in Texas and areas northwest of there. However, drought conditions may expand in the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, little or no relief is seen for California.  Just this week water use restrictions of from 8% to 36% were enacted for some municipalities.

Late breaking news.  Tornadoes in Germany!

There was a fairly broad outbreak of severe weather including tornadoes in Germany on Tuesday, May 5.  Here’s coverage from the British newspaper, The Guardian.

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Pat Skinner. 

Pat Skinner photo

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?

In fall of 1997 the LSU AgCenter disaster mitigation and housing programs convened a conference in New Orleans called “Breaking the Housing Disaster Cycle.” Joe Wysocki, then program leader for CSREES housing education, mentioned that he was working with a North Central Region (NCR) committee called EDEN. EDEN’s three-year NCR committee life was coming to an end and the members wanted to explore taking the concept national. They joined our conference and – at the end – asked if Louisiana would take the leadership and begin expanding the membership. I became the first national chair and webmaster in January 1998.

2. Can you tell us a little about your role in disaster preparedness in your state?
My role in disaster management is primarily about risk appreciation and mitigation. I came to Extension in the early 1990’s for the specific purpose of conducting an education program associated with a river commission project to raise five structures “slab-n-all.” That program was funded by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for Hurricane Andrew. I had no Extension experience, but lots of experience with floods and the federal flood programs, primarily the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

In the late 1990s I led another project in which we developed and coached flood mitigation task forces in fifteen SE Louisiana parishes. The task-force project introduced our Extension agents to parish floodplain administrators (FPAs), and introduced both our agents and FPAs to their emergency managers and occasionally to local voluntary organizations active in disasters. The 1997 conference that brought EDEN to New Orleans was part of this task-force project.

My primary program since the 2005 hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) has been creation of an Internet-based Enterprise GIS system that provides flood- and wind-hazard information for any point in Louisiana; the point is specified by a user placing a pin in a map manually or by address lookup, using road and aerial base maps for reference. At we host, read and interpret the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) of the NFIP for the entire state. We read the Basic Wind Speed (BWS) at a location from another Internet service we built for this application. We give the user ground elevation (consumed from the US Geological Survey), which the user can compare to Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on the FIRM to get an idea of how deep the 100-year flood would be at their point of interest. We even draw them a picture using our BFE Scenarios application. The BWS and BFE information is essential to people making building and restoration decisions because the statewide building code adopted in 2006 requires buildings to be designed and built to resist damage from these hazards.

Currently I have the privilege of managing a comprehensive disaster mitigation program that for the first time engages 4-H youth.

3. What was a highlight from your term as EDEN chair?
The highlight of working in Extension is always getting to work with really good, selfless people on a mission. That would be true for the early EDEN days, and still today. As I see how subsequent chairs have managed and led and hosted meetings I am horrified at what I didn’t know back then. But these are forgiving folk.

Louisiana took the leadership because EDEN asked us to. I took the lead role because my boss said I should. He believed in me, even though – or perhaps because – I knew nothing about Extension. I was unencumbered by notions of what was and was not possible at any level. So I guess the highlight was simply that over those early years we moved forward.

4. Can you tell us about the role you currently hold with EDEN?
My official role in EDEN is Web Manager and PD for the LSU AgCenter subcontract of Purdue’s NIFA funds for support of EDEN work. The LSU AgCenter hosts a number of EDEN Internet and Intranet web presences and provides networking support, working closely with the EDEN Communications group at Purdue. I gave up web-mastering many years ago and now just think up stuff for our very talented webmaster – Andrew Garcia — to do.
I am most active in the EDEN Exec and international committees, and now taking greater interest in the youth activities and disaster activation and communication planning arenas.

5. What was your favorite part of the 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting?
There were several high points, but my hands-down favorite part had to be bringing the 4-H’ers to the meeting and having the group receive them with such enthusiasm.

EDEN’s annual meeting didn’t officially begin until the opening reception Tuesday evening, but those of us who arrived in time to join the October 8th tour got an early taste of what was to come. Cheryl Skjolaas, meeting host, arranged three stops that highlighted two important Wisconsin economic drivers: agriculture and tourism.

Cheryl Skjolaas introduces Justin Pope of Foremost Farms

Cheryl Skjolaas introduces Justin Pope of Foremost Farms.

First stop was Foremost Farms in Baraboo. This is a farmer-owned milk processing and marketing cooperative with nearly 2,000 member-owners located in the upper Midwest. Justin Pope, director of environmental health, safety and sustainability, shared lessons learned from real events and exercises. Processing plants can be affected by contamination, disease outbreak, or physical catastrophes. Like many other businesses, Foremost Farms has developed a continuity of operations plan–and has had to implement it on more than one occasion. A highlight of the presentation was discussion of their enterprise-wide exercise of response to discovery of Foot and Mouth Disease in the state.

We also visited a milk producer, the New Chester Dairy. The  facility has 8,600 cows and operates two rotary parlors, milking approximately 8,000 cows three times a day. All cows are housed on premise in climate-moderated, covered barns and fed feed mix created on site. It was fascinating. While not every state has a large dairy industry, all of us can appreciate the need for biosecurity and farm facility security–poor sanitation, disease, theft, and other problems have a direct impact on the economic welfare of the operation.

EDEN tour group at New Chester Dairy in front of milk transport trucks.

EDEN tour group at New Chester Dairy in front of milk transport trucks.


Meg Galloway, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, describes the 2008 Lake Delton washout and subsequent reparation.

Meg Galloway, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, describes the 2008 Lake Delton washout and subsequent reparation.

Sandwiched between dairy stops was a visit with Meg Galloway (Chief, Dams and Floodplain Management Section, Bureau of Watershed Management, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources). She met us on Lake Delton‘s earthen dam. As chief, she was responsible for coordinating break reparation after a road embankment washed out on June 8, 2008. Most of the 267-acre lake drained in two hours. Lake Delton was formed in 1927 to attract tourists to the Wisconsin Dells area. It was very successful and has been a key tourism destination ever since. Repairing the 400-foot break, which also took out a section of County Highway A, was a huge task.The repair proceeded hastily because it was tied to the highway reconstruction and was a priority for the area tourism. The lake resort was able to reopen just one year later.

The tone was set. We returned to the University of Wisconsin Pyle Center in time for our opening reception and kickoff to the 2013 EDEN Annual Meeting.

Next week we’ll highlight a few of the meeting sessions.


NIFA shared booth space with EDEN at the 2013 NCSE national conference

NIFA shared booth space with EDEN

Each national conference hosted by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has a specific theme. This year’s theme focused on preparedness and resilience. Held in Washington, DC, it was attended by leaders from the scientific, diplomatic, emergency management, conservation, business, disaster response, educational, and policy communities. It was a big meeting.

You’ll find on the conference web page recorded interviews with plenary panelists, a link to C-SPAN footage of the first day of the conference, and links to some of the speakers’ PowerPoint presentations. The C-SPAN footage features Margareta Walhstrom (Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations), Craig Fugate (Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency), and three plenary sessions (Japan 2011: Cascading Disasters; The Gulf Coast: Diverse Converging Issues; and Aridity and Drought and their Consequence).

On day two of the conference, Rick Atterberry, Steve Cain, Pat Skinner and I hosted a breakout workshop—Building Community Resilience and Capacity through Extension Programs and Youth Corps.

Our breakout session was enriched by including Joe Gersen (Public Lands Service Coalition) and Levi Novey (The Corps Network). Their names and the addition of Youth Corps to our session attracted several people we would not have otherwise met. One of the most important themes I saw in our session was that college students and young professionals don’t believe they are taken seriously when it comes to disaster resilience. Their talents and experience are not fully used even though they have much to offer. EDEN should consider how to improve the integration of youth and young professionals with recovery and mitigation efforts.

Hosts of each of the 23 breakout workshops were asked to compile a list of recommendations for new initiatives, partnerships, collaborations, or actions. The synthesized list will be distributed to the Administration, Congress, state and local government, and a myriad of other agencies and groups. The full list of breakout workshop recommendations is available for download.

Which, if any, recommendations do you think EDEN should address?

Today’s weekly U.S. Drought Monitor update shows that roughly 62 percent of the continental U.S. remains in some form of drought, unchanged from the previous week. That number has been above 60 percent largely since July.  Nearly 22 percent of the lower 48 states are in extreme or exceptional drought, the two worst categories. That’s up a half of a percentage point from a week earlier.

This update does not consider the current storm going through the center of the country.


Kim Cassel

Shared by Susan Kerr with EDEN deleagates:

In this Issue:

Can We Rebuild the Beef Cow Herd? Part 1

Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist

Management of Cows with Limited Forage Availability

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Can We Rebuild the Beef Cow Herd? Part 1

Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist


That was the question posed to me by a producer in response to my recent article suggesting that two years of drought liquidation, on top of previous liquidation, has pushed the beef cattle inventory so low that we are effectively “out of cattle” in terms of our ability to maintain beef production and rebuild the cow herd.  This producer specifically noted two issues that will affect the ability of the beef industry to rebuild: the loss of forage land to non-agricultural (development and recreational) uses; and the conversion of pasture to crop production.  While these and other issues pose significant challenges to rebuilding the beef cow herd, I do believe there is ample capacity to rebuild the cow herd according to the demands of the market.  That said, the question of how and where it will done is likely to be different in the future than in the past.


In the short run, the drought is, of course, the major factor affecting herd liquidation.  Until forage conditions improve, the question of herd rebuilding is a moot one. And while there is no current indication of improving drought conditions, nor any guarantee that conditions will improve, it is likely that some regions, at least, will see improving conditions in the coming months.  The more regionally specific drought in 2011 caused a 1.07 million head decrease in beef cows in a single year in Texas, Oklahoma and the surrounding states.  Much of this region is still in severe drought, with some areas, such as Arkansas, in considerably worse shape in 2012 than in 2011.  There has been some improvement in drought conditions in parts of east Texas but little if any herd rebuilding has taken place yet.  Most all of this loss in beef cows can be recovered post-drought, though some parts of the region will take several years to fully recover.


The impact of the 2012 drought has yet to be documented until the next USDA cattle inventory report is available.  I expect to see another 400 to500 thousand head decrease in the beef cow herd, spread across several states.  I suspect this reduction represents extra heavy culling of the cow herd and fewer heifers entering herds rather than the deep herd culling or herd dispersals that occurred in 2011.  Nevertheless, this is additional herd capacity that can return rather quickly with improved forage conditions.


Land use issues affecting the beef industry reflect long term trends and on-going structural changes in U.S. agriculture.  Concerns about development and recreational use of forage lands are common and understandable among many cattle producers.  Certainly in some areas, the loss of pasture to small acreage development or for other non-agricultural uses is significant and noticeable.  However, about 30 percent (571 million acres) of the total U.S. land area of 1.93 billion acres is rangeland, pasture or non-cultivated cropland (mostly hay). No doubt this includes some land used for recreation despite being designated as agricultural.  Another 810 million acres (42 percent) is forest land or federal land, a significant portion of which is grazed or partially grazed by livestock. Thus, a majority of some 1.381 billion acres (72 percent) of the total land in the country is used exclusively or partially for livestock, mostly cattle, production.  This compares to 305 million acres (16 percent) used for crop production; 33 million acres (1.7 percent in the Conservation Reserve Program); 111 million acres (5.7 percent) developed; and another 5.2 percent in water surface and other rural uses.  Land used for development increased nearly 17 million acres from 1997-2007.


Land diversion away from agriculture is not a trivial matter but does not represent a significant barrier to potential rebuilding of the cow herd, at least not on a national basis.  The implications of this issue certainly vary in some regions and are part of a broader set of regional changes in agriculture that will affect the beef industry in the future.  The next installment of this article will discuss how and where beef cow herd rebuilding will take place.


Management of Cows with Limited Forage Availability

Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Most of the cow calf producers of the Midwest and Southwest are going into winter with very limited hay supplies and standing forage.  As they search for alternative methods to keep the cows in adequate body condition this winter, some were planning on wheat pasture that so far has not received enough rain to grow.  Therefore it has become time to look for Plan B (or C or D).  Most of the alternatives after wheat pasture are not easy or inexpensive.


Information that may provide guidelines for alternative winter feeding methods can be found in an Oklahoma State University Extension Fact Sheet:  ANSI-3034 called “Management of Cows with Limited Forage Availability”.  In this fact sheet you will find:


  • Culling suggestions (if that has not already been done);
  • Recommendations about how much hay is needed if it is to be purchased;
  • Limit-feeding grain with limited forage available
  • Suggested complete diets for cows fed in drylot
  • Limit energy concentrate feeding management tips
  • Limit feeding of hay


Some of the suggestions in the fact sheet require great skill and discipline on the part of the herd manager.  Also feed handling equipment, feed bunks, and well-fenced lots or sacrifice pastures are necessary for many of these alternatives.  Study the lesson extensively before undertaking some of these alternatives.  The price of many grain-based diets must be considered as well as the management challenges.  Read Oklahoma State University Extension Fact Sheet ANSI-3034 ( before winter sets in.


Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services.  References within this publication to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, service mark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply endorsement by Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.


Kim Cassel