Research Counts

By Lori Peek

The importance of getting disaster lessons into the hands of those who need it is more pressing than ever. Lori Peek describes a new Natural Hazards Center platform to do just that—Research Counts is dedicated to giving experts an opportunity to apply their knowledge to current disasters, as well as ponder new questions.

By Yared Abayneh Abebe, Neiler Medina Peña, and Zoran Vojinovic

In areas rich with cultural diversity, resilience isn't a one-size-fits-all prospect. A research team from PEARL shares lessons they learned about building back better after Hurricane Irma hit Sint Maarten.

By Sherri Brokopp Binder and Alex Greer

Are home buyout programs a mitigation effort or a recovery effort? The answer can vary—and that ambiguity topic can impact the programs' effectiveness.

By Sara Hamideh

Tourism-based coastal economies have different recovery needs following disaster. Learn more about what these communities need and resources available to restore them to their pre-disaster status.

By Liesel Ritchie, Carolyn Kousky, Kathleen Tierney, and Simone Domingue

Quantifying the return on investment in disaster mitigation was a powerful tool for sparking action. Now a recent FEMA project outlines how the same might be done for broader preparedness efforts.

By Elaina Sutley

Uneven disaster recovery can sometimes be the result of mitigation efforts. This Research Counts piece explains how it happens and how it can be avoided.

By Ian Burton

Disaster scholars often ruminate over why—when we have so much knowledge—we seem to make frustratingly little headway in stanching disaster impacts. In this Research Counts, longtime researcher Ian Burton puts forth a few thoughts as to why that's the case.

By Leah James and Courtney Welton-Mitchell

Depression, anxiety, or trauma related to past disasters can all play a role in how (or if) people choose to prepare for disaster. This Research Counts details an innovative intervention that takes mental well-being into account when helping people prepare for disaster.

By Lori Peek

Of all the threats that America's children must face to get an education, school buildings themselves could be the most dangerous.

By Courtney Welton-Mitchell and Andrew Riley

After suffering persecution in their homeland, many of the Rohingya that escape find their new lives come with an entirely different set of threats to their mental well-being.

By Tricia Wachtendorf and James Kendra

Early this year, a human—using a systems interface—mistakenly sent a false alert warning of an incoming missile threat. Here's why we should focus on the error, and not the human.

By Richard Olson

Although hazards may be natural, we've long known that the disaster aspect is human-caused. This edition of Research Counts examines how a seemingly innocuous turn of phrase impacts how the public thinks about disasters.

By June L. Gin

The needs and experiences of those who are homeless during disasters can be very different from other populations, yet often emergency planning doesn't account for their specific needs. A recently released toolkit will make it easier to address that gap.

By Michal Linder

Libraries play a central role in many communities; but when it comes to participating in disaster response, managerial outlooks might make all the difference.

By Kevin Simmons

Stronger building codes might be seen as costly, but for communities with the will to enact them, they save money in the long term.

By Kai Erikson

In this piece, Kai Erikson reminds us that lessons from Katrina are enduring and that the harm and suffering from the most recent disasters will trace a similar trajectory if we do not address the social injustices that existed long before the shock.

By Lynn Weber

In the rush to help people recover after disasters, inequitable systems are often put into place that promote injustice and discrimination. This piece examines how that happened after Hurricane Katrina—and how it's likely to happen again following Maria.

By Alexa Dietrich, Adriana Garriga-López, and Aman Luthra

Months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is far from recovery and in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. This piece looks at how U.S. territorial status has led to mounting woes before and after the storm that affect the welfare of its residents.

By Shannon Van Zandt

Helping policymakers understand the true stakes of disaster decision making is one way to really make sure research counts, and this transcript on housing considerations following Hurricane Harvey is one example.

By Susan Cutter and Christopher Emrich

As emergency officials attempt to allocate scarce resources following disasters, systematic measurements of social vulnerability—such as the Social Vulnerability Index—can assure help goes to those who need it most.

By Craig Trumbo

The decision to evacuate or shelter in place during disasters can sometimes seem black and white, but many elements are at play—not the least of which is how individuals perceive risk.

By Nicole S. Hutton

It's not necessary to rebuild buildings after a disaster to rebuild thriving city centers. Nicole Hutton explains how simple projects can create gathering spaces that help cities begin to hum again, even amidst construction.

By Katherine Browne

Recovery is not one-size-fits-all and emergency officials that incorporate a sense of place and community identity into recovery efforts can have a huge impact on the success of the people who live there.

By Samantha Montano and Paolo Cavaliere

Including the public in disaster recovery planning might seem obvious, but it's a step that's often not given enough attention. This article offers tips to make sure recovery is a participatory process.

By Steve Kroll-Smith, Pamela Jenkins, and Vern Baxter

The devastation caused by disaster can reverberate through people’s lives for years, causing a cascade of other problems. This article reflects on the elusiveness of true recovery.

By Rachel Luft

After disaster, communities talk about building back better, but often reconstruct problems of the past. This is true of social infrastructure, as well. Rachel Luft examines how we must rebuild from the intersection of race, class, and gender to create truly effective recovery.

If you are interested in contributing to this series, please contact Natural Hazards Center Director Lori Peek directly at


Research Counts is made possible with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593) and supplemental support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-National Integrated Drought Information System (NOAA-NIDIS). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF, FEMA, NOAA-NIDIS, or Natural Hazards Center.