Pic Description Hurricane Michael damage as seen Oct. 21, 2018 in Panama City, Florida ©Patrick Bray.

Hurricane Michael rapidly escalated from a tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane, making landfall on the Florida Panhandle on October 10, 2018, before sweeping across the Southern states. The storm’s impacts included 36 confirmed deaths, over 1,000 people still missing a week after the storm, and at least $4.5 billion in property damage. With sustained winds at 155 mph when it struck the panhandle, Michael was the strongest storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

In response, the Natural Hazards Center issued a special call for proposals for its National Science Foundation-funded Quick Response Grant Program, which provides small grants to help eligible researchers travel to disaster-stricken areas to collect perishable data. The following five proposals were funded:

Pic Description Hurricane Michael made landfall along the Florida Panhandle as a record-setting Category 4 storm. Sustained winds approached 155 mph as the eye of the storm moved ashore near Mexico City, Florida at 1:30 p.m. ET October 10 ©NOAA, 2018.

Marc Settembrino, Southeastern Louisiana University
Immigrant Coalitions Active in Hurricane Michael

This research will explore how immigrant coalitions, which typically focus on immigration policy and supporting immigrants, engage with disaster-related tasks in the Florida Panhandle. The researcher will used a mixed-methods approach, conducting in-person group interviews and using an online questionnaire. The results will help researchers better understand the role of immigrant-serving organizations in disasters and will bolster the use of the Advocacy Coalition Framework as a model for studying disasters.

Cory Armstrong, University of Alabama
An Examination of How Areas Identify Risk Perception Through Media Messages Before and After Severe Weather Strikes

This study looks at how media messages affect risk perception and decision-making before and after disasters in rural and urban communities along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The research uses an experimental design that tests how visual elements, such as the hurricane cone of uncertainty, a National Weather Service statement, and live video of a hurricane, affect risk perception, and thus behavioral intention to act in response to risk. The author’s initial research showed that live video resulted in the lowest risk assessment.

Darien Alexander Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Resilience from Below: Positionality of Informal Disaster Responders and Volunteers

This research explores the opportunities and challenges faced by individuals in volunteer organizations active in disaster in the Florida Panhandle as their work intersects with formal emergency management- and government-led projects following Hurricane Michael. The author will look at interactions through the lenses of race, gender, class, and other identities carried by volunteers. The study will use qualitative methods to collect data during the response and recovery periods.

Juyeong Choi, Tarek Abichou, and Eren Ozguven, Florida A&M University
Significance of Secondary Infrastructure for Shelter Management in the Aftermath of Hurricane Michael

This research looks at infrastructure capabilities when short-term emergency shelters are overwhelmed and evacuees are sent to long-term shelters in Panama City and Panama City Beach, Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. The researcher will study how well critical infrastructure, utility outages, and solid waste management support evacuees in long-term shelters, and what secondary infrastructure arises to meet evacuee needs. The study will include onsite investigation, interviews, and secondary data collection for post-disaster need assessments.

Lu Zhang and Emel Ganapati, Florida International University
Understanding Multi-Sector Stakeholder Value Dynamics in Hurricane Florence to Facilitate Collaborative Decision Making in Disaster Contexts

This research will examine the evolution of multi-sector stakeholders’ value systems over time in the context of Hurricane Michael. Differences in value systems are the primary cause of conflicts, disputes and even chaos during decision-making processes before, during and after disasters. This study will use secondary sources, such as emergency management plans, and in-depth interviews to identify and examine value systems. The research team will hold information dissemination workshops and will develop an online policy toolkit to help policy makers improve their decision-making processes.

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More information on the above grants is available on the Recently Funded Quick Response Grants page. To receive news about the program and calls for proposals, please subscribe to the Quick Response email list.

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant no. 1635593. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.