Editorial: To Address the New Normal, Disaster Relief Needs to Start With Prevention

(TNS) - In Congress, battles are raging over disaster relief spending. Who should get the help? Puerto Rico, still seeking emergency reconstruction money in the wake of 2017 Hurricane Maria (and yes, Puerto Rico is part of the United States and just as deserving of help as, say, North Carolina)? How about Hawaii, where volcanic eruptions have seen molten lava destroy homes, roads and other infrastructure? Nebraska and Iowa, which were inundated by some of the worst flooding in their history? California, trying to rebuild from the most widespread and deadly wildfires the state has ever seen? Or the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia, where homes and farms were wiped out by the violent Hurricane Michael last year?

California Regulators Skeptical of PG&E’s Promise to Improve Safety

California regulators expressed skepticism that Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s new leaders have enough professional experience to instill the deep corporate culture of safety they say the company has lacked.

The utility has been blamed for more than a dozen of California’s most destructive wildfires in the past two years.

Oregon City Contemplates New Policy to Deal With Levees

(TNS) — The Warrenton, Ore., Commission plans to develop a new policy to address encroachments on the city's levee system.

A recent inspection of Warrenton's nearly 11 miles of levees revealed several issues. There are moles everywhere and, in several cases, there are structures built into levee slopes.

One example the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has rated as "unacceptable" is a garage built into the levee right of way off Main Avenue near Fourth Street.

If the garage is not addressed, it could jeopardize the levee system's status within the federal Rehabilitation and Inspection Program, which provides rehabilitation assistance.

AI in the Smart City: Experts Talk Risks and Rewards

City court officials in Austin used to spend a lot of time answering rote questions related to parking tickets, court dates and other issues.

Then about two years ago, the city began using a chatbot to field these requests. The move made life easier not only for workers in the court system, but also residents.

“They had a challenge with individuals coming down, asking questions about paying tickets,” explained Austin CIO Stephen Elkins during a panel discussion last week at the Smart Cities Connect Conference in Denver.

The future of operational risk management

As the efficiency of operational risk management remains a top priority and pressure to maximise value increases, emerging technology could prove crucial. Nitish Idnani, leader of oprisk management services at Deloitte, explores how the oprisk management space could look in the future if it continues its current evolution, and discusses the potential impact of key technologies

The efficacy and efficiency of operational risk management continue to be a major priority in today’s business climate. The ability to demonstrate the value of oprisk management frameworks – with risk managers being increasingly expected to do more with less – is increasing. This pressure is creating an incentive for risk leaders to explore and embrace new technologies and techniques that can help improve their programmes.

California Spillway to be Used Tuesday. The State Says it's Ready

(TNS) - Oroville Dam’s massive flood-control spillway will be deployed Tuesday for the first time since it was rebuilt for $1.1 billion after a near-catastrophe forced the evacuation of 188,000 people in 2017.

In a brief statement Sunday, the California Department of Water Resources’ deputy director Joel Ledesma said the agency has “restored full functionality to the Oroville main spillway and is operating the reservoir to ensure public safety of those downstream. The Oroville main spillway was designed and constructed using 21st century engineering practices and under the oversight and guidance from state and federal regulators and independent experts.”

Gov. Newsom Declares Wildfire Emergency Ahead of New Fires

(TNS) — Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Friday and waived environmental regulations to expedite nearly three dozen local forest management projects to protect communities from the deadly wildfires that have decimated regions up and down the state.

The governor's action marks the latest effort by the state to offset the possibility of catastrophe after back-to-back years of savage wildfires that killed more than 100 people and burned nearly 2 million acres in total. The projects will cost a total of $35 million, which will be paid with forest management funds in the 2018-19 budget.

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