Earthquakes cannot be prevented, but their impacts on life, property and the economy can and should be managed. That's the challenge that Congress has given the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). The federal interagency program works to reduce earthquake losses through improved design and construction techniques for new and existing buildings and lifelines, monitoring and early-warning systems, coordinated emergency preparedness plans, and public education. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the lead agency for NEHRP, has released a draft strategic plan for public review and comment through May 9, 2008.
The final plan for 2008-2012 will guide the activities of the four NEHRP agencies—the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and NIST—working in partnership with state and local governments, private enterprise, professional organizations and academia.
The draft plan lists nine strategic priorities for the next four years to understand earthquake phenomena, develop cost-effective measures to reduced impacts on individuals, society and construction, as well as improve rapid community recovery from earthquakes. Some of these include implementation of the Advanced National Seismic System for impact notification, deployment of response, hazard assessments and research; development of cost-effective techniques and tools to design new earthquake-resistant buildings and to improve the survivability of existing buildings; creation of realistic earthquake scenarios to help communities and businesses better understand and plan for earthquake consequences; and design of earthquake-resilient infrastructure to end vulnerabilities and possible cascading failures in critical, interconnected transportation, ports, energy , water, sewage, communications and industrial production systems.
Following the public comment period, the NEHRP agencies will jointly consider edits to the plan. The final strategic plan is to guide NEHRP agency funding decisions.
The draft NEHRP Strategic Plan and information on how to submit comments is available on the NEHRP Web site at www.nehrp.gov. The 2008 NEHRP Annual Report submitted to Congress last month is also available on the Web site.