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ECU hosts Hazards conference

(May 6, 2002)   —   A May 16 - 17 conference at East Carolina University will focus on the continuing needs of the victims and survivors of the floods from Hurricane Floyd that destroyed thousands of homes and other property in 1999.
It is the third meeting of the ECU Hazards Conference, held annually, since the devastating storm. This year's theme is "Housing and Disaster Recovery in North Carolina."
The conference will be held in ECU's Mendenhall Student Center.
Conference organizers selected housing as a topic because of the region's history of housing problems and because of the numerous residential areas in the coastal plain region that were damaged by floodwaters that overflowed creek and river banks after the storm.
Discussions at conference sessions will include the new and amended state and federal programs that regulate housing construction and provide relief for disaster victims. Representatives from housing organizations, city and county governments, and state and federal regulatory agencies will attend.
The public is welcome. The conference is free, but advance registration is required for those who would like to attend the lunch and dinner programs on Thursday, May 16. Information is available by calling 252-816-5215.
The conference begins each day at 8:30 a.m.
Featured speakers include: Nicolas Retsinas, director of Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University; Steve Culnon of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency; David Kelly, director of the N.C. Redevelopment Center; Philip Berke, a professor of land use and environmental planning at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Doug Hoell, the operations chief for the N.C. Division of Emergency Management.
The organization headed by Retsinas conducts research to examine and address the most critical housing and community development issues in United States. Before his appointment to the Harvard post in 1998, he was the assistant secretary for housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He is the chairman of the Low Income Housing Fund and serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Housing Endowment. He is also a board member for Habitat for Humanity International, the Community Development Trust Inc., and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Culnon worked with the N.C. Department of Commerce for 14 years before joining the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, where he is the director of rental investment. After Hurricane Floyd, Culnon guided his agency in responding to the need for rental housing for disaster victims and was instrumental in finding ways to circumvent the normal bureaucratic maze in obtaining replacement housing for the disaster victims.
Kelly's career has spanned more than 20 years in state management. He has served as the assistant secretary of public safety in the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety and was the head of the department in 1999. He is a resident of Oak Island, N.C., a member of the N.C. Emergency Management Association and served on the Legislative Commission to Address the Hurricane Floyd Disaster Relief.
Berke has written books on earthquakes and hurricanes. He was the founder of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University.
Information about the conference is on the Internet at www.ecu.edu/hazconf/.