Completed Research Projects

As the frequency and intensity of natural disasters continues to grow, best practices for mitigating disasters and reducing risk must always evolve as well. This study with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) surveyed state level floodplain managers to assess trends in funding, staffing, and practices for managing their floodplains. The findings are intended to assist the floodplain management community in identifying and reducing risk, and to serve as a current resource for policy advocates.


Chasing Ice is an award-winning documentary that follows the work of the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), an initiative aimed at capturing the rapid melting of glaciers at multiple locations across the globe. Using pre-and post-test survey instruments, this study assessed the impacts of the film on attitudes and knowledge about climate change.


This exploratory research looked at the effectiveness of the tsunami awareness short video, “The First Sue Nami,” created by the Art Center College of Design for USGS’s Science Application for Risk Reduction division. The project involved developing and implementing a quasi-experimental evaluation approach to provide data to inform future messaging and communication strategies for tsunami awareness and protective actions in target populations.


In 2011, the nation experienced a record fourteen, billion-dollar weather-related disasters. The next year, Superstorm Sandy, the focus of this study, caused an estimated $68 billion in losses, making it the second-costliest storm in our history. This study explored one dimension of resilience—dynamic economic resilience—by examining how affected businesses in the New York City area coped following Sandy and the extent to which they were able to recover.


The primary goal of this project was to document how the distribution of punitive damage awards in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) case affected communities, groups, and individuals in the renewable resource community of Cordova, Alaska. This study had three main objectives: 1) to expand and continue a line of inquiry on human impacts of the EVOS that began in 1989; 2) to examine how prolonged EVOS litigation was associated with chronic stress, social disruption, and diminished social capital; and 3) to explore how and to what extent resolution of the long-term litigation influenced renewable resource communities and groups.


This study was the first systematic and scientific survey of preparedness of community-based and faith-based organizations that constitute the critical civic infrastructure. The study provides detailed information on the level of awareness of the threat of natural, technological, and terrorism-related hazards among key personnel in a stratified random sample of community-based organizations (CBO’s) in San Francisco. It also explored their understanding of how earthquakes, natural disasters, industrial accidents, and terrorist attacks will affect both their operations and their clients and provides detailed data on preparedness measures that have been undertaken by CBOs serving at-risk populations.


This study examined the social impacts of the failure of a coal fly ash retention pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County, Tennessee in December 2008. With a focus on social capital and psychosocial stress, this research employed a mixed-methods approach, with structured face-to-face interviews and self-administered household surveys at two points in time.


As one of the largest volunteer networks in the U.S., the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) engages volunteers 55 and over to support disaster preparedness, response, and recovery and increase community resiliency. In fiscal year 2013, CNCS invested substantial resources to enhance the capacity of its grantees to engage in disaster-related work through augmentation grants in five locations. This project evaluated the impact of these grants on RSVP organizations in Colorado, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.


The purpose of the SAFRR Tsunami Scenario Project was to foster the use of science in decision-making associated with tsunami events. The Hazards Center team conducted the evaluation of this extensive effort, which engaged multiple partners at local, regional, and national levels. The evaluation activities for the Tsunami Scenario Project provided feedback and information to the USGS and its partnering agencies to support the development and successful implementation of the project. Specifically, the evaluation focused on three key elements of the project: I) the engagement of port and harbor decision-makers in selected California cities; II) interagency coordination; and III) intra-agency coordination.


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