Recently Funded Research

The following is a list of forthcoming research projects from the Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Research Award Program. Within six months of award approval, researchers submit an abstract and 20 page double-spaced report detailing their preliminary findings. Completed reports are available on the Quick Response Reports page.

Quick Response Program Awardees

Disaster Debris Management and the Historic Maine Floods of December 2023

Julia Crowley, University of Missouri–Kansas City

The severe storm and flooding that impacted Maine in December of 2023 generated some of the highest water levels in the state’s history. Debris management needs have posed challenges for the response and recovery phases. The research study aims to examine the impacts of pre-disaster debris management planning on the response and recovery phases, and the most significant debris management challenges. Snowball sampling will be used to recruit 18 emergency management personnel who worked on debris management for the severe storm and floods. Interviews will be recorded, transcribed, and coded to generate relevant themes on debris management.

Role of “Rurality” and “Place” in Equitable Recovery Following California’s 2023 Winter Storms

Danielle Rivera, University of California, Berkeley
Adrienne Dodd, University of California, Berkeley
Eliza Breder, University of California, Berkeley

Small towns and unincorporated (rural) areas often suffer from lack of assistance in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, as well as mitigation. This issue came to the forefront during the repeated atmospheric storms striking California between December 2022 and March 2023. This Quick Response project examines the extent of flooding and its severity throughout the Pájaro Valley of California. Through semi-structured interviews and participatory mapping, this perishable data helps illuminate the challenges faced by rural communities in times of flooding. This data will frame a larger project generating tools for rural hazard mitigation.

Developing a Culturally Relevant Metric of Food Insecurity for Native Americans in Western New York: A Pilot with the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

Marlene Wakefield, D'Youville College
Lauren Clay, D'Youville College

Native Americans and Alaska Natives (NAANs) disproportionately experience economic hardships with higher poverty rates and lower average incomes that limit the ability to afford and procure healthy food. NAAN food systems traditionally involve obtaining food through traditional gathering methods and community food sharing practices. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread community disruption with those most vulnerable bearing the greatest burden. This research will develop and pilot a culturally relevant NAAN food security metric. Without a culturally relevant metric for food insecurity in NAAN populations, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food insecurity cannot be fully understood.

Special Call for Health Outcomes and Climate-Related Disaster Research

Ohio's 2024 Tornadoes Touchdown Impact on Mental Health among Socioeconomically Challenged Communities

Amer Abukhalaf, Clemson University

The rare breakout of tornadoes in Ohio between February and April 2024 has caused a wave of panic among people in Franklin County, adding to the mental health burden of the socioeconomically challenged communities in the county. Our research employs a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative surveys with qualitative interviews, to capture the complexity and heterogeneity of individuals' experiences. Quantitative data will provide statistical analyses of mental health indicators and socioeconomic variables, while qualitative insights will offer rich narratives and contextual understanding of the social and psychological dimensions of disaster recovery, which will help our team promote resilience and capacity-building initiatives.

Assessing Health and Environmental Impacts of 2023 Maui Wildfires on Asian Americans

Shinwoo Choi, Texas State University
Yong Je Kim, Lamar University

In August 2023, a catastrophic wildfire engulfed Maui, Hawaii, took 115 lives and destroyed thousands of homes. The aftermath poses significant environmental challenges, including soil contamination and potential health risks. This research focuses on Asian American survivors, the largest ethnic minority in Maui County, investigating their health and mental well-being post-wildfire. It also examines the perspectives of healthcare providers regarding the impact of wildfire on soil contamination and health. Soil samples will be collected to assess contamination risks. The study seeks to illuminate the unique experiences of Asian American communities, contributing to disaster response and environmental conservation.

Transportation as a Social Determinant of Health During Hurricane Idalia

Xiang Yan, University of Florida
Catherine Campbell, University of Florida
Shih-Kai Huang, Jacksonville State University
Xilei Zhao, University of Florida

This project will survey and interview Florida residents impacted by Hurricane Idalia to understand the role of transportation as a social determinant of health during hurricanes. Specifically, a survey will be conducted to reveal how transportation factors (e.g., vehicle ownership, disability) constitute a major barrier for people to evacuate before the hurricane and to access healthcare and food throughout Hurricane Idalia’s impacts. The research team will also conduct interviews to understand how transportation-disadvantaged populations coped with healthcare/food access challenges during the hurricane as well as the role of transportation assistance in addressing their access needs.

Special Call for Proposals: FEMA Region 8

Built Environment Policy and Recovery After the Marshall Fire

Katherine Dickinson, Colorado School of Public Health

The Marshall Fire destroyed 1,084 homes and damaged 149 more in the communities of Louisville, Superior, and Boulder County. In the aftermath of the fire, our research group coordinated an interdisciplinary, national team of researchers to survey residents of communities affected by the Marshall Fire. Our survey—which is being distributed to members of the affected community in multiple waves and through multiple recruitment channels—covers a range of topics related to the fire's impacts and recovery processes, including residents' risk perceptions, emotional and physical health impacts, evacuation, recovery decisions, and local government participation.

Inclusion of Manufactured Home Park Residents in Wildfire Mitigation and Preparedness in Lake County, Colorado

Julia Goolsby, University of Colorado Boulder
Hannah Brenkert-Smith, University of Colorado Boulder
Colleen Donovan, Wildfire Research Center (WiRe)
Carolyn Wagner, Wildfire Research Center (WiRe)
Patricia Champ, U.S. Forest Service
James Meldrum, U.S. Geological Survey

Wildfires pose an increasing threat to wildland urban-interface communities. Among the most vulnerable are manufactured home park (MHP) residents, who can face unique wildfire risks due to the combined effects of residents' high social vulnerability and their homes' high wildfire susceptibility. This project focuses on MHP residents in the mountain community of Leadville, Colorado. In partnership with Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue and the Colorado State Forest Service, the project team will survey MHP residents to identify key wildfire preparedness issues and find ways to support future preparedness efforts.

Climate Change Impacts on the Native American Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic of the Northern Great Plains

Shelby Ross, University of Colorado Boulder

A mixed method approach will be used to distribute two surveys to invite feedback from the healthcare workers who provide services to Native American individuals who are diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. The second survey invites feedback from all Native American adults in the Northern Great Plains. The collected data will undergo a descriptive statistical analysis. The surveys will place emphasis on understanding how Native American individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—who are living in a reality of a diminishing land-based knowledge system under a changing climate—are experiencing climate change induced extreme weather events.

Quick Response Research Reports are based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF or the Natural Hazards Center.