2.5 Community Resilience: Increasing Public Understanding of Risk and Vulnerability to Natural Hazards through Informal Education

Monday, 8 January 2018: 3:00 PM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Erik Salna, Extreme Events Institute, Florida International Univ., Miami, FL

The Extreme Events Institute’s (EEI) International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida, as a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, is dedicated to make South Florida, Ready, Responsive and Resilient. IHRC with funding from the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has developed several museum exhibits and events. This included the hands-on FIU Wall of Wind exhibit for the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, the Frost Science Museum in Miami, Florida, and the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The exhibit teaches the public about hurricane wind engineering research, enhanced building codes, and the importance of protecting your home’s windows and doors with code-approved shutters. In addition, IHRC and MODS facilitate Eye of the Storm, a free-of-charge, community event with interactive hurricane science, and preparedness activities, including the entertaining Owlie Skywarn live theater show and live air cannon missile impact demonstrations. This annual event includes many local, state and federal partners, including NOAA and NWS. The IHRC also developed the FIU Wall of Wind Mitigation Challenge. As the next generation of engineers to address extreme weather, this STEM education event features a competition between high school teams to develop innovative wind mitigation concepts and real-life human safety and property protection solutions. IHRC and MODS are also developing a new exhibit of a Hazard/Risk Equation that will “come to life,” through virtual reality (VR) technology in a state-of-the art 7D theater. The exhibit will provide a better public understanding of how changes in exposures and vulnerabilities will determine whether a community experiences an emergency, disaster or catastrophe. Ultimately, if we raise public understanding, we may raise their support for Disaster Risk Reduction, and voice that support to their local government officials and policy-makers. This is especially relevant with Miami being part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Initiative. The goal and end-result is improved community resilience to extreme weather.
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