UNM Pre-disaster Mitigation Advisory Committee Preparing for the Worst


This summer as the sun shines and faculty and students take a break, Principal Investigator Deborah Kuidis and Co-Principal Investigator Shirley Baros are working through checklists of the worst things Mother Nature might throw at the UNM campus.  They work with the Pre-disaster Mitigation Advisory Committee and their check list includes everything from severe thunderstorms to volcano damage.

Kuidis and Baros are talking to every department and stakeholder they can reach on the UNM campus.  They are making specific lists of potential problems that might be caused by natural disasters.  They ask department administrators such things as whether computer servers and electrical boxes are in the basement where they might be damaged in a flood.  They want to know if a department has potential hazards like big glass windows that might be a hazard in a serious wind storm or tornado.

The survey is more than an exercise in fear.  It's a first step toward fixing potential problems.  The U.S. government requires cities, counties and large public institutions like universities to have pre-mitigation disaster plans to prevent trouble.  Filling out the plan is the first step.  Other steps come as the university applies for federal funds to make the buildings safer and less vulnerable to natural disaster.

Kuidis and Baros have assembled an advisory committee to help them work through the process.  The committee includes representatives from departments that have responsibility for some physical aspect of the campus.

"This effort is a disaster preparedness initiative," said Kuidis.  "Although UNM isn't susceptible to as many natural disasters as those universities along the coast of California, we must convey to everyone that this planning is important and our responsibility to the university and surrounding community."

UNM has until next summer to complete the planning process.