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.
Completed Research Projects
Using a step-wise cluster comparison, this project expanded disaster mental health intervention research implemented elsewhere in Nepal with flood-prone communities, to earthquake affected areas in Kathmandu Valley. The project also drew on previous work with earthquake survivors in Haiti to adapt intervention content to the specific needs of earthquake survivors in Nepal.
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 project supported NOAA’s Tsunami Program by using social science methods to identify strengths and weaknesses in Tsunami Warning Center (TWC) products and the TsunamiReady Program (TRP). Findings of this research provided guidance for improving products and education; developed ways to monitor and assess progress; and provided contents for a repository for social science research findings. The rationale for this social science research was that findings would support NOAA’s mission to provide reliable tsunami forecasts and warnings and promote community resilience.
A 2005 FEMA-sponsored study, Natural Hazards Mitigation Saves found that “brick and mortar” disaster mitigation projects save $4 for every federal dollar spent. This research focused on the returns to investment in community-based efforts such as disaster preparedness, outreach, partnership building, and public education—so called “whole-community” activities that are more difficult to quantify.
Despite its importance, relatively little attention has been paid to the temporary housing phase of disaster recovery. This study involved multiple trips to Haiti to track the progress of temporary housing activities, with an emphasis on decision making and planning by international agencies, the Haitian government, and non-governmental organizations.
The goal of FEMA P-1000 was to develop a companion guide to FEMA’s Guide on Developing High Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). P-1000 provides additional information specific to natural hazards to help schools be better prepared and better able to respond, recover, and mitigate future natural hazards. This Guide focuses on operational guidance (what to do before, during and after an event) as well as physical protection (what can be done to the structure and facility to improve safety). It was developed with input from design professionals, emergency managers, school administrators, teachers, representatives of concerned parent groups, and other relevant entities.
On April 20, 2010 the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and started burning in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The rig eventually sank, leaving a breached wellhead that released an estimated 185 to 205 million gallons of crude oil in the months before it was capped and permanently sealed. Under direction from the Federal government, BP set aside $20 billion to pay damage claims. However, the claims process became a bureaucratic and legal quagmire, as well as a source of contention and stress in coastal communities. This RAPID project supported research on how settlement and litigation processes in the aftermath of this technological disaster are influencing social and psychological recovery in the State of Alabama’s coastal communities.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) Strategic Sciences Group (SSG) is an innovative approach to conducting science during crisis. Created by Secretarial Order in 2012, the mission of the SSG is to conduct interdisciplinary science-based assessments of environmental crises and build scenarios of the consequences for use by decision makers. Scenarios varied in spatial and temporal scope and examined impacts on the ecology, economy, and people of the affected region. The purpose of OGS is to help inform the federal, state, and local response to rebuilding and restoring the US East Coast in the aftermath of one of the largest storms to ever impact the region.
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.