Kerry on Kagan; FEMA's new "dawg haus"

Being in the Dog House Isn't Always A Bad Thing

As Bay State residents rebuild their homes, schools and businesses after recent floods, disaster recovery officials want their efforts to include preparing for the possibility of future storms.

Over the next few weeks, several Massachusetts home building stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's will cooperate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Group to focus attention on smart building techniques. FEMA personnel will assist staff at the stores in the construction of a number of "dawg haus" models. The concept is the brainchild of FEMA engineers who wanted to provide a user-friendly, and quite visual, example of everyday mitigation construction techniques and materials.

Kerry on Elena Kagan nomination to the US Supreme Court

Senator John Kerry said, "Elena Kagan has been an extraordinary trailblazer and she will be an extraordinary Supreme Court Justice for a very long time. She brings together a remarkable combination of qualities that the Court needs today: a capable mind, a fresh energy, a proven ability to build consensus across ideological lines, and a real-world understanding of how the law and public policy impacts Americans in their daily lives," said Sen. Kerry. "The first woman to head Harvard Law School and the first woman to serve as Solicitor General, when she is confirmed by the Senate, for the first time the Supreme Court will look a little more like America with three women serving together on the bench.
   Massachusetts has been Elena's adopted home, and a place where she earned the respect of jurists and scholars from across the ideological spectrum.

The models are constructed with materials donated by the participating stores, and demonstrate strong and safe building practices. Key to the design is the incorporation of a strap-and-connector system that ensures proper load path construction in a structure. While the construction resembles a traditional dog house, the unusual spelling is actually an acronym for Disaster Avoidance With Good Home Attenuating Unionization System.

"Think of a house like a box," said Cris Nery, a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Engineer. "When you push on one side of a box, all the pressure is transferred to the other side. If any part of the box fails, the whole thing collapses. But if the box is properly secured on all sides, then pressure from one side will not allow the box to move. It's really pretty simple, but it can make all the difference in the world."

See one in Quincy

Construction on the first "dawg haus" began on Saturday, May 8, 2010, and should be completed in less than a week. The model will be on display at the Home Depot store at 177 Willard St. in Quincy, MA during normal business hours. Over time, other participating stores will design and construct their own models for display in their communities.

Community education and outreach is just one example of the many ways FEMA continues to work closely with local and state organizations, as well as voluntary entities, to aid Commonwealth residents in the recovery process.

Record amounts of funds are being approved and disbursed by the agency; millions of dollars in disaster assistance are going to businesses, individuals and communities throughout the devastated areas.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance by registering online at, or by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or 800-462-7585 (TTY) for people with speech or hearing disabilities. The toll-free telephone numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Multilingual assistance is available. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on