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FEMA to participate in ECU hazards conference

(May 18, 2001)   —   The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the organization that helped shape the region's recovery from the devastating effects of Hurricane Floyd, will be discussed in detail at a public program scheduled at East Carolina University's Coastal Hazards Conference on May 23.
Michael J. Armstrong, the former associate director of FEMA, will give a public presentation at 7:30 p.m. in ECU's Mendenhall Student Center. His address is free and the public is invited.
James Witt, the FEMA boss during the Clinton administration, had been scheduled for the program, but cancelled his appearance this week.
Armstrong served under Witt and managed the nation's disaster prevention and risk-reduction programs for floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and dam safety. He was a frequent FEMA spokesperson and has been often interviewed and quoted by major news publications and has appeared with news anchors and reporters for all of the major television networks.
During his tenure with FEMA he was called upon to redesign the agency's disaster outreach program. The results, in part, streamlined the handling of disaster mitigation grants to help state and local governments remove or rehabilitate damaged structures after disasters. He also accelerated the development of HAZUS, a computer model that predicts the extent of damages from natural disasters.
His appearance at ECU will coincide with the university's Coastal Hazards Conference being held May 23 - 25 at the student center. The conference will take an in-depth look at storms and other hazards related to living near the Atlantic coast.
Organizers say the purpose of the conference, the second at ECU since the 1999 hurricane, will focus on such topic as environmental change, hazard-related decision making, public health and welfare issues associated with natural disasters and the long-term effects and recovery from Hurricane Floyd.
While the conference will be of particular importance to health and planning professionals, Mitchelson said the sessions would appeal to a wide range of interests. Topics covered include improvements in weather warning systems, geological changes caused by the storms, property damage, water quality concerns, and physical and mental health issues.
Participants my register for one day or all three days of conference sessions. A registration fee covers luncheons on Wednesday and Thursday and an eastern North Carolina style barbecue with entertainment on Thursday evening.
For more information, call the Eastern Area Health Education Center at 252-816-8308 or visit the conference website at