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.

Open Quick Response Program Awardees

Mapping the Communication and Coordination Networks in Response to the Kahramanmaras Earthquakes

Louise Comfort, University of Pittsburgh; University of California, Berkeley
Burçak Erkan, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Süleyman Çelik, Anadolu University, Eskisehir, Turkey

This Quick Response study will seek to map the communication and coordination networks that functioned in response to the Kahmaranmaras Earthquakes of February 6, 2023. As part of the Social Science Extreme Events Research (SSEER) network, this team will conduct an exploratory case study that will focus on three basic tasks: 1) map the technical communications networks that were functioning during the first three weeks of response operations; 2) map the organizational coordination among organizations that received and sent information through technical networks; and 3) identify the gaps in both technical and organizational networks as responding organizations struggled to operate in a disaster-degraded context. This study will be conducted by researchers from the United States and Turkey. Preliminary findings will be shared during a SSEER Virtual Forum.

The Rise of the Zero Responder: Social Capital and Grassroots Response after Hurricane Ian

Christa Remington, University of South Florida
Charity Remington, Center for Leadership Research & Action

Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm, causing widespread destruction along Florida’s western coast. Washed-out roads and unprecedented flooding isolated communities from receiving official aid. Using social capital and social networks, individuals who helped before first responders arrived—sometimes called zero responders—took a prominent role in grassroots response efforts, including rescuing stranded victims, providing meals, and distributing supplies. Using mixed methodology (e.g., surveys, interviews, PhotoVoice, social network analysis) this study will investigate the role of social capital in disaster response after Hurricane Ian by capturing how zero responders participated immediately after the disaster.

Heat and Integrated Thermal Stress Mitigation: Assessing Community Infrastructure and Adaptive Capacities in Subsidized Housing Neighborhoods

Dongying Li, Texas A&M University
Robert Brown, Texas A&M University
Yangyang Xu, Texas A&M University

Residents of subsidized housing are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather-related disasters. There is an urgent need to characterize the physical and social infrastructure related to heat and cold stress in these neighborhoods. The objective of our research is to evaluate human cold stress during Winter Storm Uri using field micrometeorological measurements and examine the extent to which the physical and social infrastructures could mitigate the impacts of the disaster through mixed-method approaches. The interdisciplinary team will leverage data on heat and cold stress and develop a convergent framework for thermal stress mitigation to combat climate inequalities.

Children and Older Adults in COVID-19

Alice Fothergill, University of Vermont
Christine Gibb, University of Ottawa
Nnenia Campbell, University of Colorado
Gabriella Meltzer, New York University

Children and older adults are two diverse populations deemed vulnerable in COVID-19, due to health risks, educational discontinuity, economic instability, and isolation. Indeed, age vulnerability is central in the pandemic and yet the voices of the young and old are rarely heard. This research project explores the lived experiences of both groups using participant-centered, innovative methods, such as daily journaling, drawings, interviews, online surveys, focus groups, podcasts, and workshops. The results of this project will contribute to better disaster preparedness, responses, and policies and support systems that address the specific challenges and resilience of these potentially vulnerable groups.

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.

Invisible Variables: Personal Security Among Vulnerable Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Danielle Wood, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Katlyn Turner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The rapid spread of COVID-19 requires decision-makers to act quickly to reduce the risk of disease spread. The adverse impacts of government-mandated social distancing measures on individuals are generally unknown. Vulnerable populations, such as low-income individuals, face unique challenges managing their safety, economic means, and autonomy in response to the policies implemented on local levels to curb the spread of COVID-19. This proposal aims to understand the invisible variables that contribute to vulnerable individual’s personal security during the hardships imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and institutional response.

Special Call for Proposals: FEMA Region 8

Where You Stand Depends on Where You Sit: Unpacking Stakeholder Notions of Community Recovery and Resiliency in the Rural Intermountain West

Christina Barsky, University of Montana
Lauren McKeague, University of Montana
M. Blake Emidy, University of Montana
Josephine Hazelton-Boyle, University of Montana

Employing a Community-Engaged Participatory Research approach, this study explores the differential experiences of disaster recovery in Montana counties that received Public Assistance following the 2022 Yellowstone Flood. Using a mixed-methods approach, this project seeks to uncover how local government officials in study counties conceptualize whole community recovery and future resiliency, in their own words.

The Role of Collaborative Environmental Research Groups in Promoting Adaptive Capacity and Resilience to Natural Hazards

Madison Boone, Montana State University
Sarah Church, Montana State University

Collaborative approaches are used to address natural hazards, but there is little understanding of how collaboration builds adaptive capacity and resilience to such hazards. To clarify critical gaps in understanding about collaborative outcomes, we will conduct a case study on two collaborative research groups in the Judith River Watershed of Montana. We will conduct a ripple effects mapping workshop and interviews with participants to elucidate outcomes. Our findings will support the community's ability to deal with current and future natural hazards and result in much-needed information that agencies and decision-makers can use to enhance resilience.

Land Use-Based Wildfire Adaptations in Unincorporated Communities

Divya Chandrasekhar, University of Utah
Santina Contreras, University of Southern California
Donovan Finn, Stony Brook University
Tasnim Isaba, University of Utah

The recent increase in catastrophic wildfires in the United States has brought with it a concern about managing risk while still preserving the socioeconomic and cultural fabric of local communities. Unfortunately, most communities at risk of experiencing wildfires in the U.S. do not have any wildfire protection plans in place to prevent disaster, even as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) rates grow. Using the case of the 2021 Marshall Fire in Colorado, this study explores the extent to which unincorporated communities adopt land use-based wildfire adaptation strategies and the challenges and opportunities for adopting such strategies.

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.

Public Sector Planning for Post-Disaster Public Housing Recovery in Communities With Near Experiences of Disasters

Sayma Khajehei, University of Utah
Divya Chandrasekhar, University of Utah

Public housing residents and subsidized housing renters face serious challenges in terms of housing in the aftermath of disasters, but cities with near experience of major disasters may have limited plans for how to house these socially vulnerable residents. Using Utah County, Utah as a case study, this research will look for pre-disaster policies to provide post-disaster housing to public housing residents. Findings will improve our understanding of whether cities are prepared to provide housing to public housing residents after disasters and how to help these socially vulnerable populations to recover in the long run.

Role of Business Support Organizations in Advancing Minority Owned Business Recovery after COVID-19 in Utah

Sua Kim, University of Utah
Divya Chandrasekhar, University of Utah

The role of business support organizations has emphasized minority owned small businesses' disaster preparedness and recovery since they deeply engage in local businesses and racial communities by providing business disaster recovery programs. However, the study of minority owned business recovery focused on linking social capital is lacking. This study tries to understand how business support organizations deal with minority owned businesses' disaster process and gives some actionable guidelines for minority owned business resilience. Around 20-25 policymakers and planners in organizations in Utah will interview and evaluate their recovery cations, investigation, and intervention through the business social capital framework.

The State of Emergency Operations Centers in Colorado

Peter Loebach, Arapahoe Community College

This proposal is for a descriptive study of the staffing, structure, and operations of the Emergency Operations Centers of emergency management public agencies across the state of Colorado. Federal guidance on the structure and operations of Emergency Operations Centers to date has been unclear and inconsistent, and the empirical studies on the structuring of Emergency Operations Centers and the factors that contribute to their following a particular model are limited. Through surveys and review of organizational documents, this study will fill supply an extensive description of Emergency Operations Centers across the state of Colorado and the potential influencing factors.

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.

A Critical Approach to Climate-Related Migration Planning in a Rural and Arid West

Stacia Ryder, Utah State University

In FEMA Region 8, impacts of climate change are likely to lead to increased exposure to air pollution, reduced access to water, and increased risks of disease to crops and livestock. As the nation's second most rural region—and home to 28 Tribal nations—these risks have the capacity to greatly alter rural livelihoods, economies and cultural resources. This suggests a future likelihood of climate-induced mobility. However, how and when induced mobility might occur is unclear, and has potential implications for equity and justice. We analyze existing climate adaptation plans for inclusion of considerations of climate-related displacement and migration issues.

One in Five Hundred

Hugo Sindelar, Montana State University

One in Five Hundred will be a film project chronicling the devastating floods that affected Yellowstone National Park and its surrounding gateway communities in June of 2022. The flooding was a 1-in-500-year event, however, shifts in climate across the West are making events like this more common. Precipitation is falling as rain instead of snow, making rain-on-snow events, which often cause flooding, much more likely to occur. The film will delve deeper into how these changing weather and climactic patterns led to the flood event, how it affected both Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding gateway communities, and what can be done to both rebuild the park and surrounding communities and help them adapt so that future flooding events are not as catastrophic. One in Five Hundred will be shared with affected communities and the general public in as many ways as possible.

Special Call for Proposals: 2021 Boulder County Fires

Monitoring the Recovery of the Coal Creek Ecosystem After the Marshall Fire

Diane McKnight, University of Colorado Boulder
Julie Korak, University of Colorado Boulder
Cresten Mansfeldt, University of Colorado Boulder
Lauren Magliozzi, University of Colorado Boulder

The Marshall Fire burn area overlaps much of the Coal Creek drainage area. Fires at the wildland-urban interface (WUI) pose contamination risk to surface waters, which can have a toxic impact on stream biota such as periphyton and benthic invertebrates. This study will measure standard water quality parameters, the concentration of metals, organic contaminants, and benthic invertebrate/periphyton health during the Spring and Summer of 2022 at eight sites along Coal Creek in Superior, Louisville, and unincorporated Boulder County. Limited data on stream impacts due to WUI fires exists, therefore collecting this time-sensitive data will inform local management decisions and launch future scholarly research activities.

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.