From the Director
I note with crossed fingers that we are now more than a month into what, surprisingly, has been a quiet Atlantic hurricane season — so far. Like others who follow disaster preparedness closely, we at RAND Gulf States encourage you to remain vigilant. Hurricanes and storm surges can't be stopped, but we can prepare for them. It is important for all of us to listen to local authorities as storms approach, heed evacuation warnings, and have a response plan that is as unique as our families. There are many organizations, such as the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that offer useful planning guidance. You can review the guidelines at www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane and www.cdc.gov/features/hurricanepreparedness.
My new hometown, New Orleans, deserves kudos for its improved evacuation system — more than ever, the community is ready to assist citizens who may find it difficult to evacuate if needed. This plan is described at new.nola.gov/ready/evacuspots/. In true New Orleans style, the evacuation points are marked by art instead of signs!
My first year as Director of Research of RAND Gulf States Policy Institute has been eventful and interesting, starting with an exciting welcome by Hurricane Isaac. I was honored to join colleagues who, since Hurricane Katrina, have been providing research and analysis to inform decision making to help the Gulf States better prepare for and recover from storms, and to improve other areas that are critical to our communities, such as health care, and education. You can review our work at www.rand.org/gulf-states.
As I meet new friends and colleagues in the region, I am constantly reminded of the Institute's 2005 charter: to work with committed community partners in taking on the region's most challenging policy issues through objective analysis. We are accomplishing this mission by addressing areas of critical concern to the area: coastal protection and disaster preparedness, health and community resilience, economic development, education and workforce development, transportation, and safety and justice - just to name a few. The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute is proud to be a part of this community, and we invite your ideas and views. Feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Cecchine Ph.D.
Director of Research, RAND Gulf States Policy Institute
Spotlight on . . . Community Resilience
Hurricane Isaac's visit in 2012 reminded us that even a "Cat-1" storm can have significant consequences. Improvements to levees and pumping stations can reduce our risks, but cannot completely eliminate them. This is why developing community resilience is equally important. A resilient community takes deliberate, collective action in disaster preparation, response, and recovery.
RAND Gulf States is dedicated to helping the region develop the capabilities necessary for community resiliency. The region and the nation have learned over recent years about how expensive improving physical protection can be: after spending $15 billion between Katrina and Isaac, another $35 billion is planned to better protect the Louisiana coast, while Sandy may cost that region $60 billion or more. RAND is committed to helping U.S. Gulf Coast States develop strategic, cost-effective plans to improve the social, economic, and institutional capabilities necessary to survive adverse situations.
- There are actions communities can take to improve their resiliency. Read more
- Big cities have unique challenges to resiliency. But they also offer unique opportunities for people and organizations to work together. Read more
- Planning is key to building resiliency, and there are new ways for community leaders plan for unpredictable events. Read more
- Robust decision making, as opposed to a more narrow scenario-based approach, is increasingly seen as a practical approach to improving resilience and for long-term planning. Louisiana's 2012 Coastal Master Plan drew on some of the key features of robust decisionmaking, incorporating state of the art analysis with deliberation by stakeholders and decisionmakers. Read more
To stay up to date on our latest work on community resilience and other research and analysis in the Gulf States, subscribe to our newsletter. Subscribe at www.rand.org/news/emails/community-resilience.html
Ongoing RAND Research
A significant portion of the New Orleans area's population of 455,000 was forced to leave the city and resettle in 2005, due to Katrina. Some returned over time, but others left for good. Data on the whereabouts, status, health, and wellbeing of displaced residents is critical to improving the resilience of individuals, families, and communities. RAND has been collecting this information through the Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey, and has made initial data available to the public. The data and website will be updated again later this month.
Recent RAND Research
RAND Gulf States is an integral part of the RAND Corporation and its more than 1,200 researchers working around the world on many topics that are relevant to our Gulf States community. Here is a sample of recent research that may be of interest to you:
Improving care for depression in low-income communities — places where such help is frequently unavailable or hard to find — provides greater benefits to those in need when community groups such as churches and even barber shops help lead the planning process.
Summer learning programs can help prevent the "summer slide," a loss of skills and knowledge that disproportionately affects low-income students and widens the achievement gap between them and their more advantaged peers. But beyond taking advantage of formal programs, there's plenty that parents can do at home.
The toll of the tornado on school students in Moore, Oklahoma, cannot be overstated. To assist with recovery, RAND's CBITS program offers resources on psychological first aid for schools, as well as additional materials for educators and parents.
The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute provides objective analysis to federal, state, and local leaders in support of evidence-based policymaking and the well-being of individuals throughout the U.S. Gulf States region.
We invite your suggestions for researchers, projects, centers, and funding or collaboration opportunities to highlight in future issues. Write to director Gary Cecchine at email@example.com.
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