Funded Projects

Call 1: Weather Ready Research

The following is a list of recently funded awards as part of a call dedicated to advancing understanding of how to most effectively prepare for and communicate about extreme weather, water, and climate events. To learn more, read the full Call for Weather Ready Research.

Risk Messaging During Syndemics: Hurricane Laura and COVID-19

Lauren Clay, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Alex Greer, State University of New York at Albany
Haley Murphy, Oklahoma State University
H. Tristan Wu, University of North Texas

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

The aims of this project are to examine the process of risk messaging for hurricanes during a syndemic/dual hazard; engage with different audiences about risk messaging for hurricanes during syndemics, as well as emergency management and household decision making; and translate findings from risk/health communication, emergency management, and household decision making into a set of risk communication better practices/guidelines for future dual hazard or syndemics in the United States.

Burned Area Emergency Response Teams: Interactions and Opportunities During Southwestern Monsoon Seasons

Catrin Edgeley, Northern Arizona University
Noah Haarmann, Northern Arizona University
Anna Jaramillo-Scarborough, U.S. Forest Service

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

Post-fire flood risk is exacerbated in the U.S. Southwest due to intense monsoon rainfall events. Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams and non-federal partners can work together to translate precipitation forecasting into effective burn scar stabilization strategies to reduce flood impacts such as loss of life and property. We will assess federal BAER documents for weather ready guidance, conduct geospatial analysis of weather ready mitigations across Southwestern fires, and interview federal and non-federal partners to understand how weather responsive actions are implemented in Southwestern burned areas. We aim to improve collaborative decision-making for flood risk mitigation through communication in time-sensitive post-fire environments.

Examining Public Response and Climate Conditions During Overlapping Tornado and Flash Flood Warnings

Jennifer M. First, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Kelsey Ellis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Stephen Strader, Villanova University

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

Severe weather can often include overlapping tornado and flash flood warnings. During such events, the publicly recommended protective actions for tornado and flash flooding hazards are contradictory—sheltering below ground during a tornado and moving to high ground during flash floods. Using a convergent framework, this interdisciplinary study will combine atmospheric, geospatial, and social science methodologies to examine a location’s climatological risk and societal exposure to tornado and flash flood events and its relation to how residents perceived, responded to, and prioritized protective actions when dual warnings for tornadoes and flash floods occurred.

The March 2020 Tennessee Tornados: Risk Perceptions, Preparedness, and Communication

Amanda Reinke, Kennesaw State University
Jaymelee Kim, University of Findlay
Erin Eldridge, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

Risk perception, disaster preparedness, and risk communication are discussed in fields such as climatology, psychology, and emergency management. Anthropologists and geographers have argued that sociocultural factors influence risk perception and preparedness behaviors. While attention has shifted away from technocratic-driven models, scholarship has not adequately addressed the impacts of diverse stakeholder goals, behaviors, and responses. Instead, focus has been on urban community members. However, this mixed-methods study will use an interdisciplinary convergent approach to interrogate (a) how beliefs and behaviors influence choices in tornado preparedness and (b) processes and effects of hazard communication among rural stakeholders impacted by Tennessee’s 2020 tornadoes.

The Effect of Experiencing Disaster Losses on Risk Perceptions and Preparedness Behaviors

Rowena "Rowie" Kirby-Straker, Wake Forest University
Leslie Straker, Longwood University

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

There is a saying, "great stories are meant to be lived," but stories that end in death should neither be lived nor relived. There may, however, be ways to extend the life of such stories to save lives in future disasters. We explore the role of narratives in disaster preparedness using experiences of people who were affected or had the potential to be affected by the November 12-13 flooding in selected North Carolina counties, following Tropical Storm Eta. The study has implications for scholarship and practice incorporating narratives in risk and crisis communication as a means of motivating life-saving actions.

Learning From Hurricane Laura’s Near Miss: Evacuation Decision-Making Under Uncertainty

David Retchless, Texas A&M University at Galveston
Ashley Ross, Texas A&M University at Galveston

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

Hurricane Laura was a near miss for the Houston-Galveston area. Given the highly politicized nature of scientific issues (e.g. COVID-19), this study considers how political values and identities affect trust in science and, in turn, evacuation decision-making. It also evaluates how Laura’s near miss might affect evacuation intentions for future hurricanes and how these intentions could be altered by different messengers and messaging. These questions will be explored via a survey of 850 adult residents of coastal counties in the Houston-Galveston region. Results will be analyzed using logistic and linear regression and disseminated through research briefs to improve future hurricane risk messaging.

Participatory Risk Communication Planning: Learning from Precariously Housed Communities

Jamie Vickery, University of Washington
Nicole A. Errett, University of Washington
Ann Bostrom, University of Washington
William Sweeney, Boulder Bridge House
Hansen Wendlandt, Community of Grace Presbyterian Church

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

Risk communication literature has increasingly identified the need for inclusivity and sensitivity to the needs and capacities of populations labeled as "access and functional needs" or "socially vulnerable." However, there remains a gap in our understanding of if and how these individuals and communities are integrated into risk communication planning, let alone broader emergency operations planning. In this study, we will engage members of the Boulder and Denver communities with lived experience with homelessness as key partners in the research process as we work to identify gaps and opportunities in extreme weather risk communication for precariously housed individuals.

Household-Targeted Hurricane Warnings for Effective Evacuation

Shandge Gao, University of Florida
Yan Wang, University of Florida
Ryan Qi Wang, Northeastern University
Corene J. Matyas, University of Florida

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

The research project intends to assess if a geo-targeted warning is more effective than a general warning in motivating evacuations before a hurricane. It proposes a new framework to generate finer-scale warning zones based on forecasted hazards and the built environment for geo-targeted warnings to be sent, then simulates evacuation decisions with agent-based modeling. It compares the simulation outcome with real evacuation decisions extracted from high-resolution mobility data under general warnings for coarser scales. The findings help local national weather service understand the role of warning zone’s spatial scale and the effectiveness of geo-targeted warnings in motivating evacuations before hurricanes.

The Role of 360-Degree Videos in Wildfire Preparedness

Na Yu, University of Texas at Austin
Lucy Atkinson, University of Texas at Austin

Date Awarded: January 14, 2021

Despite the very real and increasing risks posed by wildfires, wildfire preparedness fails to draw enough attention from the public. The issue, in part, is ineffective messaging. In our highly media-centered world, public attention to wildfire preparedness can be improved by employing different modes of information delivery, for example, immersive and interactive media. Drawing on the Risk Information Seeking and Processing model and theories of immersive media, this study, this proposal investigates the degree to which novel, immersive communication approaches in the form of 360-degree videos are more effective at communicating wildfire preparedness with the public.

Call 2: Weather Ready Research Instrument and Data Publication

This second call for Weather Ready Research supported the publication of social science and multidisciplinary data, data collection instruments, and research protocols for natural hazards and disaster research.

Weather Ready Research Instrument: Three-Dimensional Property Flood Risk Visualization Using LIDAR Data

Eric Best, Penn State Harrisburg

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

This project will compile and share instructions to create three-dimensional flood hazard projections to improve risk perception and risk communication. This research uses data that already exists for many municipalities to more effectively show property owners and other stakeholders the outcomes of projected flood events on their properties of interest. This allows for much improved flood risk communication, showing flood projections up the sides of realistically shaped structures instead of the conventional two-dimensional maps that usually simply show a property or building footprint in or out of a flood zone.

Food Environment Impacts of Hurricane Florence

Lauren Clay, D'Youville College and New York University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

This study explores issues related to food environment disruption following a hurricane event from a systems perspective using a quick response disaster research methodology. Through interviews and observations during the week following Hurricane Florence (2018) and follow-up data collected at 6-weeks, 4-months, and 1-year post-event, this study describes the impact of the hurricane on farmers, retail and emergency food systems, and households. Study findings shed light on how to bolster food system resilience and reduce health disparities to create more weather ready communities. Study protocols, data collection instruments, and quantitative data from longitudinal market basket assessments will be published.

How are Cities in the U.S. Planning for Extreme Heat?

Emma French, University of California Los Angeles
Kelly Turner, University of California Los Angeles
David Hondula, Arizona State University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

The aim of this project is to determine the prevalence and nature of urban heat management goals and interventions in municipal planning documents. The dataset contains 50 original heat content variables and 25 secondary social and environmental variables pertaining to heat from climate, general, hazard, infrastructure, resilience, sustainability plans (n=175) from the 50 most populous cities in the U.S. Heat-specific clauses were coded for heat framings, hard and soft interventions, references to equity, and data sources. Heat content variables are available at the clause and plan scale and all variables are available at the city scale.

A Web-Scraping Protocol to Expand the Historical Inventory of Disasters Leveraging Data From Newspapers and Digital News in Central America

Sergio García Mejía, University of Maryland
Michelle Bensi, University of Maryland
Nilanjana Ghosh, University of Maryland

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

Networks of social scientists in Latin America and the Caribbean have created conceptual and methodological frameworks to collect, extract and analyze information on "small, medium and large impact disasters" in countries with frequent under-records of disaster impacts. The results of this project seek to streamline filing procedures through automated protocols that will extract and filter data from newspapers, digital media, and organizational archives to contribute to the analysis and inventory of disasters that are frequently excluded from the criteria of both national and international databases. We will do this procedure for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Compound Wind and Water Hazards Embedded in Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Harvey

Jennifer Henderson, Texas Tech University
Erik Nielsen, Texas A&M University
Jennifer Spinney, York University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

Landfalling tropical cyclones (LTC) produce multiple hazards, like flooding and tornadoes, which may co-occur with the hurricane force winds. These hazards are warned for by the National Weather Service, and may contain protective action advice that conflicts. For example, people are encouraged to get to higher ground for floods but lower ground for tornadoes. Using a risk framework, this interdisciplinary project examines how people experienced and took actions for compound hazards during Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Harvey. Here we include Twitter data for public and expert users for each event and a database of overlapping warnings across the US.

Measuring Environmental Impacts and Community Perceptions of Cool Roads as a Heat Mitigation Strategy

David Hondula, Arizona State University
Mary Wright, Arizona State University
Kelly Turner, University of California Los Angeles

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

The City of Phoenix is pilot-testing an innovative solution for reducing urban heat through the deployment of “cool pavement” in eight neighborhoods. To date, Phoenix has deployed more miles of cool pavement than any other city in the United States. Phoenix and Arizona State University have partnered on a comprehensive evaluation of the Cool Pavement Pilot Program. This data package includes relevant study protocol, research instruments, and data sets from that work, including assessment of environmental impacts as well as social survey responses from residents who live in neighborhoods participating in the pilot.

Extreme Heat and Power Grid Failure: Practitioner Perspectives on A Multi-Hazard Disaster

Liza Kurtz, Arizona State University
David Hondula, Arizona State University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

Extreme weather combined with electrical grid failure is a research area of interest to disaster studies after the recent winter storms in the Southeast. To date, however, little research has explored practitioner perspectives on the combined risks of extreme weather and grid failure in urban areas. Using Phoenix AZ as a case study, researchers employed a scenario-based interview to collect data on emergency managers and other practitioners’ perception of the risks associated with a combined extreme heat and widespread blackout event. Results will be analyzed using content analysis and findings will inform planning for multi-hazard events involving critical infrastructure failure.

Assessments of Social, Community, and Psychological Impacts of Flood and Hurricane Victims

Manyu Li, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

This project aims at sharing research protocol, tools/instruments, and data on the assessment of the emotional, social, community, and mental health impacts of flood and hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast area. The data would allow scientists to examine the impacts on victims and their communities, as well as the short/long-term recovery of the victims and their communities. Specifically, drawing from interdisciplinary perspectives of environmental, social, community, and counseling psychology, the research that will be shared was designed to assess various aspects of flood/hurricane victims’ psychological impacts.

Household Impact and Recovery Data, Instruments and Protocols: A longitudinal investigation after the May 28, 2019 EF4 Linwood, Kansas Tornado

Ram Krishna Mazumder, University of Kansas
Elaina Sutley, University of Kansas
Meredith Dumler, University of Kansas

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, an EF4 tornado hit north-eastern Kansas, resulting in severe damage in Leavenworth County and surrounding areas. This collection archives Human Subjects research protocols, data collection instruments, and de-sensitized data collected on household-level risk perception, sheltering decisions, tornado impact, repair and recovery progress six months and twelve months after the tornado. Initial data on physical damage was collected three days after the tornado (Wave 1); it has already been archived on DesignSafe-CI. This project will archive Waves 2 and 3, which included in-person, mailed, and virtual surveying modes, and longitudinal questions on recovery.

Tornado Risk Perception Data, Instruments and Protocols: Survey of Contractors and KU Campus Community

Ram Krishna Mazumder, University of Kansas
Elaina Sutley, University of Kansas
Meredith Dumler, University of Kansas

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

Kansas has the second highest frequency of reported tornadoes in the U.S., yet, most counties and many local jurisdiction lack modern building codes with basic lateral force system requirements. This collection archives Human Subjects research protocols, data collection instruments, and non-PII data collected on contractor’s perception on tornado-resistant residential building design, and University of Kansas (KU) campus community’s perceptions on building safety, sheltering decisions, and impact of COVID-19 pandemic on sheltering decisions during future tornadoes in Lawrence, Kansas. This project will archive two survey instruments, which included in-person, and virtual surveying modes and questions on tornado risk perception.

Understanding the Facilitators and Barriers of Lidar Adoption for Flood Risk Management in the Pacific Northwest

Tara Pozzi, Boise State University
Vicken Hillis, Boise State University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

Flood risk and damage are expected to increase in the Pacific Northwest due to climate change. Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) is a remote sensing technology that provides high-resolution topographic data and can therefore produce higher accuracy floodplain maps, an important tool that communities use to assess their flood risk spatially. We used a mixed-methods approach to examine the adoption of lidar by flood managers for risk mitigation, as a function of individual (e.g. risk perception, direct experience) and collective predictors (e.g. peer influence, network expertise) in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Policy Innovation in Local Housing Acquisition Programs

Olivia Vila, North Carolina State University
Gavin Smith, North Carolina State University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

Hazard-prone housing acquisition or “buyout” programs are among the most effective hazard mitigation measures. However, these programs are notoriously difficult to administer and communities in the United States (US) routinely struggle to develop and implement them in a timely and well-planned manner. This research instrument is a semi-structured interview guide intended to prompt the co-generation of data which yields insight on the factors that contribute to policy innovation associated with housing acquisition programs in the US. Data generated using this research instrument can inform strategies for “diffusing” innovations and enhancing the innovation capacity of local communities implementing housing acquisition programs.

Indoor Temperature and Excessive Heat Alert System for Residential Communities

Lance Watkins, Arizona State University
Mary Wright, Arizona State University

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

In Arizona, a significant proportion of heat-related deaths are due to indoor heat exposure in individuals’ own homes. To address this risk, we implemented an alert system for a sample of Arizona residents using smart temperature sensors which notify participants and their designated caretakers (e.g., friends, family, neighbor, etc.) when indoor temperatures are dangerously hot. Using temperature, survey, and interview data, we seek to better understand how participants use their temperature sensors and alert system to reduce their risk of negative heat-health outcomes.

A Highway Vehicle Routing Dataset During the 2019 Kincade Fire Evacuation

Xilei Zhao, University of Florida
Yiming Xu, University of Florida
Ruggiero Lovreglio, Massey University
Erica Kuligowski, RMIT University
Daniel Nilsson, University of Canterbury

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

As wildfires become increasingly more prevalent and severe in California, it is imperative to study how people respond to wildfire events. This project aims to publish the first GPS dataset to capture highway vehicle routing behavior during the 2019 Kincade Fire, Sonoma County, California. This new dataset can help researchers better understand householders’ evacuation departure time and route choice and validate the existing evacuation simulation models. This dataset can also serve as an educational instrument to train next-generation disaster scientists and engineers who can leverage data science for weather-ready research.

Survey Instrument Focused on Law Enforcement First Responder Experiences During and After a Large-Scale Hurricane Evacuation

Lisa Zottarelli, University of Tennessee Knoxville

Date Awarded: May 21, 2021

First responders, including law enforcement officers, perform critical work-related public safety activities during evacuations. At the same time, they are less available to support their family’s evacuation response. This survey instrument was designed to collect information on disaster-related work and family experiences and subsequent work-and-family conflict, well-being, and job satisfaction. The question sets cover a variety of issues commonly encountered by first responders during evacuations including work-related experiences, adverse events, sheltering, and support. Additionally, the instrument has questions related to family evacuation planning and preparedness and perceptions of family expectations of first responders during an evacuation.

Call 3: Tornado Ready Quick Response Research

This third call for Weather Ready Research supported social science and multidisciplinary research to identify how community members receive, interpret, and respond to tornado watch and warning messages. To learn more, read the full Call for Tornado Ready Research.

Without Warning: How Information Sources Shaped Risk Perception During an Undetected Tornado

Kelsey Ellis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Cooper Corey, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Melanie Faizer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Jennifer First, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Date Awarded: August 18, 2023

In August 2023, an undetected EF-2 tornado struck Knoxville, Tennessee. In the absence of a tornado warning, other products, including a tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warning with a tornado possible tag, highlighted the risk of tornadoes. Our interdisciplinary team consisting of geography, journalism, and social work researchers, will use data collected from a public survey and focus groups of broadcast media to demonstrate how complex risk information evolves as it is issued by the National Weather Service, interpreted by the media, and broadcast to and interpreted by the public. Results will provide end-user feedback to the National Weather Service and media partners.

College Student Risk Perceptions and Behaviors During Tornadic and Severe Weather Events

Amy Hyman, Arkansas State University
Joseph Richmond, Arkansas State University

Date Awarded: January 9, 2024

Tornadic and severe weather events are increasing in the region known as Dixie Alley. College student populations are comprised of diverse sub-groups that often live in areas that have risks they are unfamiliar with. This could influence how different groups perceive the risk of tornadic and severe weather events along with their behaviors. On March 31, 2023, Arkansas experienced two separate EF3 tornadoes in the cities of Little Rock and Wynne. This study seeks to examine risk perception and behavior for college students during these events to better inform local and campus emergency managers.

Sheltering Behavior During the December 2021 Tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky

John Mathias, Florida State University
Brandi Skipalis, Florida State University Sanoop Valappanandi, Florida State University
Tisha Holmes, Florida State University
David Lafontant, Florida State University
Eren Erman Ozguven, Florida State University
Onur Alisan, Florida State University
Mehmet Kaya, Florida A&M University & Florida State University
Tyler McCreary, Florida State University
Efraim Roxas, Florida State University
Austin Bush, Florida State University

Date Awarded: February 25, 2022

This interdisciplinary project examines shelter access and sheltering behavior during the December 10-11, 2021 Tornado Event, with a focus on Western Kentucky. Social scientists and engineering scholars will use surveys and ethnographic fieldwork to explore how people made decisions about sheltering. Engineering scholars will use quantitative methods to study existing sheltering systems and optimal shelter siting. Integrating data from each set of methods, researchers will identify the social and physical factors that may constrain shelter access and/or use, develop improved modeling for shelter siting, and produce recommendations for how sheltering systems, including both communications and infrastructure, can be improved.

Call 4: Wildfire Ready Quick Response Research and Data Publication

The fourth call for Weather Ready Research is focused on advancing wildfire and fire weather research and data publication. The intent of this call is to help advance knowledge regarding how diverse community members perceive wildfire risk, prepare for wildfire threats, understand fire weather observations and forecasts, receive fire weather alerts and warnings, make evacuation decisions, and respond to and recover from the impacts of a wildfire. To learn more, read the full Call for Wildfire Ready Quick Response Research and Data Publication.

Situating Wildfire Resilience in Local Culturally Rooted Knowledge

Christine da Rosa, Portland State University

Date Awarded: March 15, 2024

In response to the escalating threat of wildfires in rural areas, this qualitative case study explores how community-based organizations (CBOs) collaborating with low-income Latin@ communities leverage culturally rooted knowledge post-Almeda Fire 2020. Investigating challenges and opportunities, the study probes the integration of cultural insights into disaster resilience programs and the potential for mutual learning between local practices and state frameworks. Highlighting the risks of CBOs adopting historically exclusionary government practices, the research underscores the need for critical examination. Despite potential tensions, culturally rooted disaster resilience holds promise for fostering community healing and political unity in implementing equitable disaster resilience policies.

Informational Needs and Decision-Making for Prescribed Burns within the United States

Shadya Davis, Howard University

Date Awarded: April 5, 2024

To minimize the negative impacts of fire-related disasters, there are plans to increase the use of prescribed burning to proactively manage wildlands. Timely and useful weather information is critical for decision-makers planning prescribed burns and making go/no-go decisions. This research aims to understand how and when information is needed leading up to prescribed burns and what other factors influence decisions to initiate or halt prescribed burns. In-depth interviews with fire personnel will be conducted in multiple U.S. Forest Service areas to understand their weather information needs and current gaps relating to prescribed burning.

Built Environment Policy and Recovery After the Marshall Fire

Rick DeVoss, Colorado School of Public Health
Katherine Dickinson, Colorado School of Public Health
Deserai Crow, University of Colorado Denver
Andrew Rumbach, Texas A&M University
Elizabeth Albright, Duke University

Date Awarded: October 10, 2022

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. The three-wave panel survey 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. Participants experienced varying levels of fire impacts, from those who lost their homes to individuals living within 2 miles of the fire. The research project is broken into three main activities: resident survey, public document analysis, and elected official interviews. The research team will publish research protocols, instruments, and data from this project.

Inclusive Evacuation: Transit and Paratransit During the Caldor Fire

Tara Goddard, Texas A&M University

Date Awarded: May 9, 2023

The 2021 Caldor Fire displaced over 30,000 people in the Lake Tahoe Basin in Northern California and Nevada. In addition to the topographical challenges and limited roadways for evacuation, the region’s income inequality and housing crisis mean there are significant number of transit-dependent and unhoused people who are particularly vulnerable to evacuation challenges. This case study explores the planning, policies, and procedures before, during, and in response to the fire, focusing on the Tahoe Transit District, the lead agency responsible for locating, alerting, and transporting transit-dependent people, including those with disabilities, car-free households, and unhoused residents of the area.

Forest Therapy as a Trauma-Informed Approach to Disaster Recovery

Cat Hartwell, University of Washington
Juliette M. Randazza, University of Washington
Gregory N. Bratman, University of Washington
David P. Eisenman, University of California, Los Angeles
Blake Ellis, California State University, Chico
Eli Goodsell, California State University, Chico
Chaja Levy, University of Washington
Nicole A. Errett, University of Washington

Date Awarded: February 28, 2024

This study investigates the practice of forest therap by interviewing eleven forest therapy guides who participated in a community recovery program in Butte County, California, after the 2018 Camp Fire. Leveraging the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's six principles of a trauma-informed approach, the research explores whether forest therapy can be applied to disaster recovery—especially as climate change increases the intensity and frequency of wildfires and other climate-related disasters globally. The following research instruments and data were published on DesignSafe: an interview guide, a matrix with de-identified data summaries, and a restricted-data access protocol.

Social-Wildfire Vulnerability Affecting Spanish-Speaking Populations in the Texas Wildland Urban Interface

Rodolfo Hernandez Perez, Texas Tech University
Raisa Marcela Ortiz, Texas Tech University
Alexander Bregenzer, Texas A&M Forest Service
Kari Hines, Texas A&M Forest Service

Date Awarded: January 17, 2024

Responding to the challenges of wildfire management in the changing urban landscape and sociodemographic shifts among the Hispanic-Latino population in Texas, this project aims to build a bilingual (English-Spanish) survey instrument to assess the social vulnerability of Spanish-speaking and bilingual (ENG-SPA) populations to wildfires in the Texan Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The instrument aims to understand specific linguistic-cultural, and socioeconomic challenges affecting their ability to prepare for wildfires. Through convergent and co-production of knowledge approaches, the survey questionnaire will be collaboratively designed by academic researchers, Texas A&M Forest Service, and WUI regional coordinators.

Motivated Reasoning and Burn Ban Decisions by County Commissioners

Esther Jose, State University of New York at Buffalo
Wouter Lammers, Catholic University Leuven
Ronja Gerdes, Otto von Guericke University

Date Awarded: September 14, 2023

This research will test how U.S. public officials use the opinions of prescribed fire council members and lay people when making decisions about prescribed fire measures. We will present vignettes of their prescribed fire risk perception to a sample of county commissioners from the midwestern United States to assess the effect of others’ risk perceptions on decision-making and the level of support for prescribed fires they generate. Also, in line with motivated reasoning theory, we assess how county commissioners’ preconceived opinions affect how they weigh the risk perceptions of others.

Local Voices of Lahaina Burned: Visual Reflections from the 2023 Maui Wildfires

Ratna Okhai, University of South Florida
Kaila Witkowski, Florida Atlantic University

Date Awarded: March 18, 2024

The August 2023 wildfires that razed the city of Lahaina instigated an uproar about the failures that contributed to making it the deadliest wildfire in modern American history. While scholars continually highlight the importance of community involvement within disaster recovery measures, community voices are consistently overshadowed. Aiming to fill this gap, our goal is to advance knowledge on how emergency management and governing agencies can incorporate locally impacted voices within their disaster recovery considerations. Specifically, we ask the following research questions: (1) How do residents see the organizational recovery support efforts to build back Lahaina better? (2) What are some of the challenges or barriers residents see to their voices being heard? (3) How can governing agencies engage the voices of the local community when making decisions about the future of Lahaina? Using the FEMA/SAMHSA Disaster Recovery Model, we propose a 5-month study of Maui, Hawaii to better understand how the residents of the impacted disaster area see the recovery process and what outcomes they want from the recovery efforts. This project will use photo-elicitation and focus group interviews to capture how the residents of Maui view the recovery process and to better understand how they want their voices to be heard. This study will contribute to the growing body of evidence-based research that is based on sharing the perspectives, stories and experiences of Maui residents from their own visual viewpoints.

Understanding Behavioral Adaptation to Compound Wildfire Hazards in Northern California

Francisca Santana, University of Michigan
Alexandra Paige Fischer, University of Michigan
Heidi Huber-Stearns, University of Michigan; University of Oregon
Sue Anne Bell, University of Michigan
Nancy French, Michigan Technological University

Date Awarded: February 6, 2023

Individuals and communities across the Western United States are adapting to growing hazards of wildfire risk, smoke, and power shutoffs. However, to date most research on individual-level adaptation has focused on single wildfire hazards. Through a multi-site, qualitative case study of three California communities, we will examine how individuals appraise threat and efficacy and respond to compound wildfire hazards. Based on our findings, we will advance a conceptual framework of adaptation to compound wildfire hazards, identify barriers and opportunities for community and state-wide efforts, and provide recommendations to our local partners on policies, programs, and behavioral interventions.

Integrating Land Use Strategies Into Wildfire Recovery Planning in the Western United States

Tasnim Isaba, University of Utah
Divya Chandrasekhar, University of Utah
Nazife Ganapati, Florida International University
Suraksha Bhandari, University of Utah

Date Awarded: June 3, 2024

This study investigates the integration of land use planning in wildfire recovery across 13 Western states by analyzing community-level recovery plans from significant wildfire events between 2014 and 2023. Employing a framework with five categories of land use planning, the research assesses the degree of integration and identifies influencing factors. Methodologies include content analysis of recovery plans and key informant interviews with planners and officials. The study provides insights into the barriers and facilitators affecting land use planning in recovery efforts, aiming to inform policy and improve community resilience against future wildfires.

Risk Perceptions and Evacuation Decision-Making During Wildfire Events in Rural Texas

Ming Xie, West Texas A&M University
Li Chen, West Texas A&M University

Date Awarded: April 23, 2024

This survey study explores Texas Panhandle rural residents’ wildfire risk perceptions, receiving and processing fire alerts and warnings, and evacuation decision-making and behaviors during wildfire disasters. In particular, we will examine how they received and processed fire alerts and warnings during the 2024 Texas Panhandle wildfire disaster and the factors that affected their evacuation decision-making and behaviors. The survey outcomes will reveal the specific barriers residents in rural Texas are facing in response to wildfires and the best disaster communication methods to enhance their disaster resilience in future wildfire events.

Call 5: Flood Ready Research and Data Publication

The fifth call for Weather Ready Research is focused on advancing inland flood research and data publication in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. The intent of this call is to help advance knowledge regarding how diverse community members perceive and prepare for inland flooding, understand observations and forecasts, receive alerts and warnings, make protective action decisions, and respond to and recover from the impacts of inland flood events. To learn more, read the full Call for Flood Ready Research and Data Publication.

Mutual Aid for Resilience: Mapping Vermont’s 2023 Flood-Response Networks

Charis Boke, Dartmouth College
Sarah Kelly, Dartmouth College
Aletha Spang, Dartmouth College

Date Awarded: April 10, 2024

Inundation, seepage, undercutting, and erosion characterized the Great Floods of 2023 in Vermont’s narrow valleys. This project collaborates with community members, formal responders, and mutual aid volunteers in the Black River Valley to gather ethnographic and geographic data on flooding impacts and responses. Based on this data, we will produce a pilot version of a new, community-driven, accessible floodplain mapping tool. The tool will improve communication and collaboration across scales before, during and after inland flooding. Our methods will also serve as a model for other inland communities to develop their own accessible, scale-crossing mapping tools.

Flood Risk and Abandoned Dams: Preparedness, Risk Perception, and Mitigation in Michigan

Adam Mayer, Michigan State University

Date Awarded: April 23, 2024

Thousands of dams in the United States are abandoned or otherwise in disrepair, creating significant flood risk. Michigan recently experienced two dam failures that caused millions of dollars in property damage. Yet there is very little research on risk perceptions or disaster preparedness related to these dams, and governance and management is exceedingly complicated given that the industries that built the dams have long since vanished. We propose a multi-method study to understand risk perception, preparedness, perceptions of responsibility, and management preferences among the public and local government in Michigan.

Strengthening Disaster Preparedness: Assessing Risk Perception and Early Warning for Flash Flooding

Ayorinde Ogunyiola, Murray State University
Oluwabunmi Dada, Murray State University

Date Awarded: April 10, 2024

Flash floods continue to be a severe and life-threatening weather hazard globally despite significant progress in flood detection, forecasting, and early warning. The United States is particularly vulnerable to flash floods due to intense rainfall across different communities. In response to the increasing threat of flash floods, this project will investigate how people in Mayfield, Kentucky, perceived and prepared for the devastating July 2023 flood. Using a mixed-method approach, the research will explore risk perception, early warning, and disaster preparedness. Findings from this study will have national significance useful to improve flash flood preparedness and reduce negative impacts on vulnerable communities.

Inland Flooding Risk Perception and Mitigation in Socially Vulnerable Communities in Indianapolis

Courtney Page-Tan, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
Sydney Powers, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

Date Awarded: April 10, 2024

The aims of this research are to examine inland flooding risk perception and mitigation in socially vulnerable communities in Indianapolis, a city prone to inland flooding events, but remains largely understudied in this context. Our research advances knowledge of which factors contribute to higher levels of risk perception, which adaptative activities individuals are more likely to participate in before a flooding event, and which challenges contribute to lower levels of adaptative activities in socially vulnerable communities with potential flood exposure.

Using Immersive Virtual Reality Experiences to Communicate Inland Flooding Risks

Wei Zhai, University of Texas at San Antonio
Marcio Giacomoni, University of Texas at San Antonio
Haoming Qin, University of Texas at San Antonio

Date Awarded: April 10, 2024

This study investigates how Virtual Reality (VR) simulations of flash flooding influence flood risk perception and adaptation behaviors towards climate change in San Antonio, Texas. Utilizing a lab-in-the-field experiment, the research immerses participants in VR environments to examine if experiential learning can enhance understanding and responsiveness to inland flooding risks. The interdisciplinary approach aims to reveal how immersive technologies can shift societal attitudes and behaviors towards sustainability and resilience. Findings will offer insights into improving climate communication and fostering proactive community engagement in climate adaptation, with potential implications for enhancing weather-ready practices and public policy.


The Weather Ready Research Award program is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593) through supplemental funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Program Office. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF, NOAA, or the Natural Hazards Center.