Hazus Oversight Underway

Standing expert committees, maintained by the Institute for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), have begun oversight of the Hazus Flood, Earthquake, Wind and Coastal Surge Models, and the Tsunami Model currently under development. The objective is to enable the Hazus models to continue producing credible results for national and regional annualized studies and for regional and local studies for one or more return periods. This effort includes loss methodology validation and model results validation and quality assurance.

Hazus is a powerful risk assessment methodology for analyzing potential losses from floods, hurricane winds and earthquakes. In Hazus, current scientific and engineering knowledge is coupled with the latest geographic information systems (GIS) technology and national databases to produce estimates of hazard-related damage before, or after, a disaster occurs.

On an ongoing basis, the Oversight Committees assess modifications to the Hazus model loss methodology and monitor results from model revisions. The proposed technical methods are reviewed for completeness, technical accuracy and clarity, and to ensure that the methods are scientifically sound and will stand up to the test of peer review. Model results are reviewed for quality, validity and usability in federal, state and local mitigation, emergency management and response programs.

The Oversight Committees also review how methodologies have been implemented in the Hazus Technical Manuals, develop recommendations for future versions of Hazus and monitor the implementation of Committee recommendations in Hazus.

The Committees have been very active. The Flood Committee, which met on March 13, developed 11 prioritized recommendations for future development. In a March 26 teleconference, the Tsunami Committee reviewed new developments by the model developers. Particular emphasis is being placed on the configuration of the hazards module, on which the future building damage, casualty, debris and other modules will be based. The Wind Committee, in an April 2 teleconference, developed a list of recommendations to be prioritized before the end of this month.

Hazus supports FEMA’s Risk MAP Program for reducing losses of life and property through effective local mitigation activities enabled by quality hazard data, risk assessments and mitigation planning. Hazus also is used to address gaps in flood hazard data, increase public awareness of hazards and provide credible results quickly.

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