Preliminary Damage Assessment
Another method was reported by Duzzny (2002) in which his community has established
a partnership with the Mahoning Valley Home Builders Association to complete damage
assessment. A group of local contractors were selected and trained. They established their own
methods of communication in order to maintain inter-rater reliability.
The States of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware include training programs as part of their
PDA preparation. The programs are listed on each state’s emergency management website. The
literature also supported yearly training for those individuals performing the assessment
(Durham, 1991). All localities have common and unique needs depending upon their location,
financial and manpower resources. It is those unique factors that should dictate that specialized
training be developed and competed at the local level. The Commonwealth of Virginia (2005)
did offer some specific training guidelines for localities. The suggested topics included:
determining damage levels, personnel safety, estimating building value, use of specialized
equipment, dealing with the public and the media and the use of damage assessment forms. At
the current time, the Commonwealth of Virginia has left the responsibility for PDA preparation
training in the hands of emergency managers (Commonwealth of Virginia 2005).
Many localities have begun to integrate computers as replacements for paper based
forms. Traditional FEMA paper forms are completed by placing a check mark in the appropriate
category, little to no specific address information is collected on the property. Portable laptop
computers and hand held computers such as personal data assistants that allow damage assessors
to collect more information on the property in a standard format. Computers also make
tabulating the information on large scale disasters much easier and open the door for other
decision making software and mapping applications (Morrow, 2002).