Researchers Meeting Abstracts
On this page, you will find the research abstracts the 2019 Researchers Meeting.
The abstracts are organized alphabetically by the last name of the first author. You will also find the plenary or concurrent session number linked below the list of authors, so that you can connect the abstract to the meeting schedule.
A Bayesian Approach to Develop Business Recovery Models After Disaster Events: An Application Study for Lumberton, North Carolina, Following Hurricane Matthew
In recent decades, due to an increase in the frequency of natural disasters, communities suffer not only from direct economic losses, but also from longer-term hardships in recovery. Business recovery plays a significant role in community recovery. In order to conduct risk-based resilience assessments to make decisions for enhancing community resilience, there is a need to predict and quantify business recovery. This study introduces a stepwise probabilistic modeling approach using Bayesian linear regression that is comprised of three steps: data collection, development of model forms, and model selection. First, a comprehensive dataset containing six sets of information vital to describe a business and its recovery is needed (here obtained from a study conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology-funded Center of Excellence for Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning in Lumberton, North Carolina, after Hurricane Matthew in 2016). Then, based on the review of business disaster impact and continuity literature, we developed a set of initial candidate model forms. Four complementary measurements of business recovery—business cease operation days, revenue recovery, customer retention, and employee retention—are considered that comprehensively describe the recovery state of a business post-disaster. Finally, the most appropriate model among a set of developed initial candidate model forms is selected through stepwise evaluation and elimination. One advantage of this approach is that it accounts for the interplay between businesses and households in a community during the recovery process. The developed models are applicable in risk-based resilience assessments of communities with similar socioeconomic characteristics and hazards
An Interdisciplinary Approach to Evaluate the Sustainable Resilience of Communities
There is increasing focus on understanding individual and combined impacts of environmental stress, extreme events, and human development on communities, infrastructure, and policy. As collective understanding of the dynamic nature of human impacts on the environment and environmental impacts on human society has grown, greater effort and dependence have been placed on engineering systems to maintain quality, withstand change, and minimally impact the surrounding environment. While research advances have contributed to the evaluation of individual systems performance, a challenge remains to better understand the interactions between infrastructure, communities, and policy under uncertain and dynamic conditions. An interdisciplinary approach is then required to guide current and future strategies in order to safeguard vulnerable populations from natural hazards. This talk presents several examples of interdisciplinary research work focused on evaluating the sustainable resilience of communities as they relate to infrastructure performance and policymaking. Case studies include water, energy, and transportation systems serving vulnerable communities in the United States, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The focus will be on lessons learned and important considerations to conduct successful international and interdisciplinary research. Critical components of convergence research for planning for disaster mitigation and recovery will be discussed.
Managing Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: A Case Study of the Eastern Free State, South Africa
Disaster risks are increasing in intensity and frequency and are exacerbated by climate change. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) (2015–2030) placed much emphasis on the prevention of new risks and reduction of existing disaster risks through the use of ecosystems. Considering the effectiveness of wetlands in reducing recurrent drought and wildfires in South Africa, DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA) are interrelated, and a nature-based solution was found to be suitable and affordable for the recurrent risks of drought and wildfires in the eastern Free State. A mixed-methods approach and three data collection tools were used. Results revealed that degraded communal areas were not effective in mitigating drought and wildfires, but healthy wetlands in protected areas and private, commercial farms were more effective in reducing recurrent risks in the study area. Therefore, through better land use and land management practices backed by education and awareness, wetlands could effectively mitigate recurrent natural hazards, including those associated with climate change in the study area.
Using Evacuation Perceptions to Model Household Decisions to Evacuate or Stay
Household evacuation demands are modeled with engineering factors, such as transportation “supply,” and socio-demographic factors regarding households and their experiences. This study addresses which factors influence an individual’s perception of the effectiveness of evacuation as a protective action and how this perception, controlling for other factors, influences the decision to evacuate or stay. The research questions are investigated using a two-stage modeling process. The first estimates evacuation perception, which is affected by long-term factors (e.g., residential location, prior loss experience, and prior evacuation decision-making); short-term factors (e.g., traffic delay observed in the last time interval); and socio-demographic factors (e.g., household size, education level, and marital status). The estimated evacuation perception enters the second stage model along with additional factors to estimate the likelihood of evacuating from a hypothetical hurricane. The other significant factors include evacuation preparedness (e.g., having an evacuation plan and safety responsibility) and the presence of a child. The overall error rate of the two-stage model is 3.7 percent when it is evaluated at the city level and 17 percent at the zip code level.
Whole Community Planning: District of Columbia Watts Branch
The District of Columbia is one of seven cities that have joined a North American cohort to develop local approaches for prioritizing equity in sustainability and climate action—the Partners for Places Equity Pilot Initiative. This two-year pilot program fostered a community-driven process of resiliency initiatives in the underrepresented, underserved community of Watts Branch in the southeastern portion of the District. One initiative was the Equity Advisory Group (EAG), which consisted of a demographically representative group of residents and a group of equity and engagement consultants, and partnered with the Georgetown Climate Center. Tabletop discussions were conducted to increase awareness of the floodplain, including possible impacts of a major event and general climate risks for the area. A second initiative generated a comprehensive flood mapping product with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This led the District Department of Energy and Environment and the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency to conduct building surveys to assess the feasibility of flood-proofing and/or infrastructure retrofits to protect the area from the floodplain. These findings assisted the EAG group in developing climate resilience strategies with express consideration of equity and social cohesion. Additionally, this pilot initiative led to best practices that are being replicated across the District.
Networking Among Nonprofits to Build Disaster Recovery Capacity in Puerto Rico
Community organizations play critical roles in disaster recovery, owing to their abilities to motivate volunteerism, assess local needs, and distribute goods and aid. However, few such organizations have the capacity to successfully navigate the dynamism and uncertainty of the disaster recovery process. Networking and communication can provide these organizations with new avenues of information and action, boost their diminished capacities, provide better means of community representation, and improve cognition of emerging risks to which a community is exposed, improving a community’s ability to act on that information. Social networking also helps organizations better respond to disasters by facilitating information exchange, collective action, and access to new resources for recovery. Apart from these preliminary insights, however, few studies have systematically analyzed the benefits of interorganizational communication among community organizations for local recovery. In this study, we use a mixed-methods approach, including surveys and key informant interviews, to examine the ways and means in which interorganizational communication improves post-disaster recovery efforts of community-based organizations. We focus on the impact of Common Idea, a new network of local community-based and nonprofit organizations in San Juan, Puerto Rico, considering their individual operations, knowledge seeking, and resource access after Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The Post-Disaster Food Environment: An In-Depth Case Study of the Local Food System in New Bern, North Carolina, Following Hurricane Florence
This study explores the impacts of Hurricane Florence in 2018 on the local food system and public health in New Bern, North Carolina, using a quick response disaster research methodology during the immediate response to and early recovery from the hurricane. A four-person reconnaissance team arrived in New Bern six days after Hurricane Florence made landfall to observe the impact of the storm on the local food system during the immediate response period. The team returned to the area for two additional waves of data collection, resulting in interviews with 47 individuals and six farmers affected by the storm, 34 individuals working in food-related response, and assessments of 10 food distribution sites and 10 food stores from September 2018 to January 2019. Conducting mixed-methods, interdisciplinary research with a team from four different institutions over three waves of data collection required creativity and improvisation to investigate the evolving post-disaster food environment, including recruiting researchers from a range of disciplines to provide the expertise necessary to understand the context in New Bern, revising data collection protocols to leverage community partnerships, and adjusting methodologies to meet community members where they were during the response and early recovery phases. This presentation discusses the study methodology, decision-making, and outcomes, and shares preliminary findings about the post-disaster food environment and implications for public health.
A Framework for Harnessing Citizen Scientists and Journalist Networks for Post-Disaster Reconnaissance
Vast amounts of damage data exist following natural disasters; the difficulty is collecting these perishable data in a timely fashion and curating them in a way that facilitates their use in follow-on research. Traditional on-the-ground reconnaissance efforts tend to focus limited human and financial resources on collecting and documenting detailed data of the most severe damage, typically in relatively small geographic areas immediately following an event. To improve post-event loss predictions, it is imperative that we collect broad and robust damage datasets, including details on good and poor performance and performance in small-to-moderate events. This presentation will introduce a framework to proactively engage local journalists and citizen scientists to collect vast amounts of real-world observational data via social media networks, such that valuable time, money, and engineering expertise can be focused on interpreting the citizen science data and on investigating the most interesting observations of damage more fully. The presentation will discuss how parts of this framework are being implemented in a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research project to collect and curate social media data from Hurricane Florence and what future work is necessary to fully realize this citizen scientist-enabled framework for developing robust damage datasets for the natural hazards research community.
Evaluating the Participatory Work of Nongovernmental Organizations in Post-Disaster Haiti
Participatory approaches are increasingly emphasized by organizations engaging in post-disaster recovery projects in the Global South. Despite growing evidence of the importance of participation, not all organizations working in post-disaster settings have used participatory approaches in the same manner. Past studies show that contextual and organizational variations can result in differences in the ways participation is approached. However, less is understood with respect to organizations working on post-disaster recovery projects in the Global South. To explore these questions, this study evaluates the participatory work of organizations through an assessment of primary survey data collected from organizations working on post-disaster recovery projects in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Findings highlight the ways in which factors such as project task, recovery sector, and organizational characteristics impact participatory approaches. These results aim to enrich our knowledge of the role of participation in the recovery process in an attempt to improve work undertaken in the international post-disaster setting.
Risk Perceptions and Adaptive Behaviors of Low-to-Moderate Income Residents in Portsmouth, Virginia
This study focuses on the flood risk perceptions and adaptive behaviors of homeowners and renters located in low-to-moderate income census blocks and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency Special Flood Hazard Areas. The findings suggest that one-way communication strategies by the city to communicate risks are obsolete and non-inclusive. Interviews with residents suggest that the city may reach these residents through their preferred communication styles.
Promising Practices for Schools Affected by Hurricanes
After hurricanes, schools must manage recovery efforts that consider the needs of their students, staff, facilities, and communities. Studies on school responses after disasters are rare, and very little evidence exists to guide educators and policymakers in designing effective recovery plans for educators following disasters. This project aims to provide promising practices for educators impacted by hurricanes and answer the following questions: What are the major disruptions for schools after a hurricane? What practices can schools use to assist recovery? To address these questions, we studied 20 school districts in Texas and North Carolina that were affected heavily by Hurricanes Harvey and Matthew. During 2018, the research team conducted 115 interviews and administered 1,722 surveys to educators. Throughout the interviews, participants discussed the extent to which hurricanes impacted educators and students through personal and instructional disruption. Based on participants’ responses, we also identified several promising practices for educators to employ during recovery. These items focused on addressing instructional time, providing mental health resources, facilitating communal support, and dealing with donations. This project provides an opportunity to learn from educators amid recovery and consider what policies others can adopt before the next disaster.
What’s Governance Got to Do with It? Exploring Decisions About Emergency Response Aid Allocation to Africa
Official Development Assistance (ODA) is often targeted to countries with healthy political and social institutions, whereas emergency response aid (as part of official aid flows) is designed to be allocated impartially with regard only to humanitarian need. This research puts the assumption of impartiality to the test, and explores an empirical relationship between the allocation of emergency response aid (by donor governments) and several measures of governance (among recipient governments), holding disaster-related need and recipient country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) constant. Analysis focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, and demonstrates this relationship by developing a panel dataset that spans 13 years and includes over 40 countries in the region. Regression analysis reveals that when need is held constant, emergency response aid is more likely to be allocated to countries that have worse institutional capacity, especially in terms of political stability and regulatory quality. In order to better understand this relationship and the mechanisms at work, this research subsequently disaggregates the data by donor country and recipient country, to add nuance that will support the development of an explanatory theoretical framework.
Evacuating Under Fire: Children with Disabilities and the 2017 Sonoma County Fires
Children with disabilities are considered particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of disaster. The purpose of this study was to examine the evacuation experiences of children with disabilities during the 2017 Sonoma County Fires. Disability diagnoses included autism, intellectual disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, paraplegia, dyslexia, visual and hearing impairments, asthma, and other health impairments. Ten parents (nine mothers; one father) of children aged three to 20 with disabilities (autism, intellectual disability, ADHD, paraplegia, dyslexia, sensory impairments, asthma, and other health impairments) were interviewed. Constructivist grounded theory methodology was used. Families were displaced from one week to one year following the fires. Children missed school for up to three months. One child’s school was destroyed, three families lost homes, and four families relocated. All experienced disruption in disability-related services. Five categories emerged: unprepared for evacuation, navigating displacement, connecting with social supports, impact on child health and behavior, and need for disability-specific evacuation information. Parents did not anticipate how their disability-related supports would change during an evacuating disaster. Mixed views were held regarding quality of school- and community-provided disability-related supports during evacuation.
Assessing Community Resilience Through Human Geography Mapping
On July 23, 2015, a lone shooter entered the Grand 16 theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, and randomly opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun, injuring nine people and killing three. While media attention focused on the human dimension of the tragedy, there were significant economic, social, and security consequences for the community. In response to these events, a research team at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, with a grant from the National Science Foundation, conducted a multidisciplined, full-spectrum analysis of the economic, social, psychological, historical, and security impacts of the incident on the city of Lafayette. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop a method for visually representing the human capital of a community to assist in the preparations for and response to disasters and civil emergencies. In this presentation, we discuss how the project progressed over three years and two phases, reviewing the results and the process of conducting interdisciplinary community-level analysis, as well as efforts to broadly convey findings in multiple formats, including community events, scholarship, and the creation of a Human Geography Mapping tool to assist communities in responding to similar events.
Vision-Based Disaster Reconnaissance Planning with a Focus on Decision-Making
During post-disaster reconnaissance missions, engineers and researchers collect perishable data in affected geographical regions. A typical post-disaster reconnaissance mission consists of a preliminary survey followed by a detailed survey. The objective of the preliminary survey is to develop an understanding of the overall situation in the field, e.g., building types and amount of damage, to then plan the detailed survey. Current manual, time-consuming methods often used in preliminary surveys can be improved by taking advantage of recent advances in image-based sensors, sensing platforms, data storage, data processing tools, and algorithms. Our objective is to develop and validate an automated technique to support reconnaissance teams to rapidly provide reliable and sufficiently comprehensive required data for detailed survey planning. The significant contribution of this research is the development of a technique to classify buildings based on their key physical and structural characteristics and rapidly assess their post-event overall structural condition. The method is divided into pre-event and post-event streams, each with the goal to first extract all possible information about target buildings from pre- and post-event images. An enabling factor in the developed technique is the availability of powerful convolutional neural network algorithms (CNNs) that are implemented for scene classification to identify the structural characteristics and conditions of the target buildings on the images. We verify and validate the proposed methodology using post-disaster images captured by structural wind and coastal engineering reconnaissance teams as part of the Structural Extreme Events Reconnaissance (StEER) Network.
Exposing Biases and Inequities in Disaster Loss Accounting
A litany of social vulnerability research has identified theoretical links between pre-disaster socioeconomic conditions and negative disaster outcomes. Case studies on impacted and distressed communities and individuals have qualitatively proven that adverse impacts across disaster areas are often coupled with pre-event sociodemographic characteristics. Significant advances across planning, preparedness, and mitigation activities could be made if adverse outcomes from hazard and disaster events could be successfully predicted by pre-event characteristics at local and even individual geographic levels. To date, there have been very few large-scale empirical assessments of social characteristics and disaster outcomes, mainly stemming from a lack of systematic and fine resolution disaster impact data. This project studies multiple large-scale hydro-meteorological disasters in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean to ascertain casual relationships between disaster impact measures and pre-event social vulnerability. Specifically, we analyze individual (point level) real/personal property losses from two different sources—the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration—in relation to social vulnerability characteristics to better understand how site and situation influence disaster loss accounting. Using six Presidential Disaster Declarations in Florida, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and West Virginia as a case study, our findings point to numerous significant relationships between disaster impact estimates and pre-event social vulnerability.
Examining Effects of Actor Network Properties on Policy Preference for Resilience Planning
This study tests different hypotheses regarding the effects of actor network properties on policy preferences for resilience planning. Much research has been done on how actor network properties affect emergency responses and recovery during and after natural hazards. Studies examining the social network properties that affect policy preference for resilience planning, however, are still limited. To this end, we conduct a stakeholder survey after Hurricane Harvey in Harris County, Texas. The main focus of the survey is to collect essential data regarding the actor network in terms of collaboration for hazard mitigation and policy preferences for resilience planning before Hurricane Harvey. We map the actor collaboration network of hazard mitigation and select three actor network properties: degree centrality, community, and boundary span. Then, we develop different hypotheses regarding effects of the selected network properties on policy preference for resilience planning. Policy preferences include preferences for land use policies, infrastructure policies, and monetary policies. The results of hypothesis testing indicate that network properties have significant impacts on policy preferences for resilience planning. The study contributes to the body of knowledge by exploring the policy preference of actors through the lens of the collaboration network structure.
C2R2: Training Students to Build Coastal Resilience
Addressing risks posed by changing climate conditions in coastal areas demands innovative strategies that intersect multiple disciplines, including engineering, ecology, communication, climate science, and community planning. The process also requires engaging coastal stakeholders in the development of research questions, the assessment of implications of research for planning and policy, and the communication of research results. Yet, traditional disciplinary programs are poorly configured to train the workforce needed to assess coastal climate risk and to develop and deploy integrated strategies for increasing coastal climate resilience. Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience (C2R2) is a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) at Rutgers University working to prepare the workforce that will build coastal resilience in the face of climate risks. C2R2 trains graduate students conducting research throughout the University to better integrate all elements of coastal systems and to communicate effectively with coastal stakeholders. In this talk, we will discuss the successes and challenges in the implementation of this transdisciplinary program at a large university, as well as the benefits of evaluation and student learning outcome data for the student and faculty participants.
Breaking Down Silos Across Specializations to Enhance Organizational Resilience
Disaster research, emergency management, and hazard mitigation must collaborate across specializations to effectively transition through the cycle of “blue skies” to “dark skies” and back again. A common barrier in coordination is often seen in how we communicate. The use of acronyms and sector-specific terminology serves to demonstrate our understanding but can also reinforce the silos in which we operate. Through whole community engagement and research into the overlap between organizational project management, emergency management, and disaster research, common principles are presented that can help to overcome silos—clarity, simplicity, and expectation setting. Through a shared vision and with clear direction, we can better understand our commonalities while appreciating our differences.
The Wicked Challenge of Resilient Rebuilding: Lessons from Superstorm Sandy
One of the most challenging aspects of creating more resilient communities is the balkanized nature in which infrastructure capital projects are funded and overseen at federal, state, and local levels. The siloed landscape of infrastructure-related decision-making and funding means that resiliency-related projects, especially those that are undertaken during a post-disaster recovery period, take longer to implement (if they are built at all), and are often less effective or efficient than desired because of the complexity and political nature of the process. The long-term recovery from Superstorm Sandy provides multiple examples of the challenges of building more resilient infrastructure, from New York City’s experiences implementing projects funded through the federally-sponsored Rebuild by Design competition to the various projects currently under analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, the Sandy recovery process also illustrates how resiliency efforts might be made more efficient and effective by reconsidering longstanding ways of thinking about planning, design, and funding, as is the case with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sandy Regional Infrastructure Resilience Coordination (SRIRC) group, which created a collaborative process for infrastructure planning despite the complexity of the region’s governance structure. This qualitative study analyzes the main infrastructure planning programs initiated after Sandy and assesses the degree of cross-jurisdictional collaboration employed in each process compared to the implementation successes and challenges. The research suggests that while collaborative planning is time-consuming, it nonetheless returns benefits in facilitating more efficient and effective projects.
Performance of Schools and Hospitals in the California Camp Fire
Hospitals and schools support their communities after disasters to build and maintain community cohesion and connectedness, while providing crucial services to help the communities respond and recover. We studied the performance of schools and hospitals in Paradise, California, during the Camp Fire and the role they are playing within the community during the early stages of response and recovery phases. The Camp Fire was one of the deadliest wildfires in California’s history and destroyed a significant portion of the town of Paradise. The town housed a regionally acclaimed hospital campus, where most of the buildings were significantly damaged. All but two of the school facilities are not operational. We performed intensive field investigations on the schools and hospitals. These investigations included structural evaluations of damaged buildings at both the schools and hospitals, wildfire mitigation techniques used at the schools and hospitals, and qualitative data collection on the impact of damaged schools and hospitals in Paradise and the surrounding communities. This presentation will summarize the ongoing multidisciplinary research, as well as some findings from the field investigations.
Disparities in Health Impacts and Access to Care Among Houston Area Residents After Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey dropped torrential rainfall on the Houston metropolitan area in August 2017, causing major flooding. This study analyzes disparities in physical and mental health impacts and access to healthcare among a representative sample of Houston area residents. This is the first study to use a population-based sample to assess the physical and mental health impacts and lack of access to healthcare among Houston area residents during and after Hurricane Harvey. We use data from a structured survey, administered within five months of Harvey (n=403). Over half of respondents experienced at least one physical health problem, and 19 percent reported scores that indicate the onset of post-traumatic stress (PTS). Nearly a quarter of respondents reported going without access to healthcare during or soon after Harvey. We used generalized linear models to predict physical health problems, PTS, and access to healthcare among survey respondents. Results suggest the operation of multiple factors affecting outcomes associated with Harvey. Disproportionate physical health problems affected people who did not evacuate due to Harvey; PTS had disparate impacts on people who lost a job due to Harvey, people of older age, and Black or African American people; and healthcare access was constrained for people who lost a job due to Harvey or who had evacuation-related disabilities. These disparate impacts indicate the need for improvements to flood-hazard mitigation and public health response efforts in the Houston area. Public health officials can use this information to target provision of health services to disadvantaged populations in future flood events.
The Breakdown from Research to Policy to Practice: Where Do We Go from Here?
There is manifold research across both the physical and social sciences that could be beneficial and help guide practitioners in crisis and disaster management. There are studies and findings to address issues that plague responders and impact public safety. However, such research often arrives too late for application in the field. Practitioners have proven not to learn “lessons” from previous disasters. Instead, we are bound to repeat mistakes during evacuations and sheltering, and in various other areas that have been studied. It is equally difficult to “learn” from research that may have not been put into practice. We analyze some of those challenges and applications in this research.
Utility Service Disruptions and Evacuation Planning for Future Hurricanes
We analyze data from a survey administered among 1,212 respondents living in superstorm Hurricane Sandy-affected areas. We estimate the effect on having an evacuation plan of experiencing hurricane-induced interruptions to utility services, such as electricity, water, gas, phone service, and public transportation. Service interruption variables were measured as a dummy variable, using no interruption as a reference category. Around 35 percent of the respondents reported having an evacuation plan in case a hurricane affects their neighborhood this year. Respondents who experienced interruptions to electricity supply had a 10 percentage point higher likelihood to have an evacuation plan compared to those who experienced no such interruptions. Respondents who experienced interruptions to gas supply or phone services had a 2 percentage point higher likelihood each to have an evacuation plan compared to those who did not experience such interruptions. Respondents experiencing interruptions to water supply were 7 percentage points less likely to have an evacuation plan. Interruptions to transportation services appear not to have any association with future evacuation planning among respondents. Among controls, respondent gender, prior evacuation, residence in a flood zone, household members being disabled or elderly each had an association with residents’ future evacuation planning. We discuss policy implications of our findings for improving disaster management in hurricane prone areas.
Volunteered Geographic Information in Disaster Management: Designing a Framework for Integration
Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is increasingly used for geographic data acquisition in disaster management. However, case studies typically focus on VGI use in a single specific disaster management stage, such as response or recovery. VGI use in disaster management is not without issues. Credibility, engagement, and interoperability are some of the most important issues requiring further consideration. The need to develop a holistic framework to facilitate the use of VGI in all stages of the disaster management cycle has been stressed in the current research literature.
Through a facilitated case study of flooding in Jakarta, this research explores VGI’s potential, limitations, and opportunities across the disaster management cycle. We focus on the use of VGI in flooding, as the majority of world’s disasters are caused by flooding, and the return periods of this hazard are such that stakeholders are required to be familiar with the VGI needs for each of the disaster management stages. Each stakeholder interviewed in our case study recognized the need for a framework to better integrate VGI into disaster management. The main contribution of this research is outlining and exploring a holistic VGI framework for disaster management and its technical and non-technical components, which potentially minimize currently identified VGI issues. In light of recent significant floods in Houston, Texas, as well as in Mumbai and other parts of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, this framework builds a timely and strong foundation to enable VGI application in disaster management for governmental and nongovernmental organizations and institutions.
Interdisciplinary Citizen Science and Design Projects for Hazard and Disaster Education
Disaster science is increasingly incorporating interdisciplinary methods and participatory research techniques. Yet, traditional higher education programs remain focused on lectures. More examples are needed of educational efforts that meet the needs of future researchers and practitioners to foster collaboration across disciplines and with communities. This paper describes one such effort that included three projects co-designed and co-led by university students, faculty, and community residents to address flooding challenges in socially vulnerable neighborhoods. This paper provides an overview of the educational programs, the three projects, and the feedback from graduate and undergraduate students who helped initiate these efforts, and discusses the benefits and challenges for similar interdisciplinary and participatory educational programs. Benefits for students include increased interdisciplinary dialogue, improved science communication, increased research participation, real-world research experience, and awareness of resident perspectives and knowledge. Challenges include a lack of cultural competency among students, time needed to earn resident trust, and mismatched community, academic, and student schedules.
Leveraging Justice: How Leaders Influence Performance in the Fire Service
Disasters are increasing in both number and severity, and effective emergency response is essential to reduce the human and economic impacts from these events. Much of the emergency management literature exploring how emergency services respond to disasters focuses on how agencies coordinate response efforts to increase effectiveness. Other factors, however, such as how leaders influence attitudes and behaviors of responders, has also been shown to influence the performance and overall effectiveness within organizations, but has received little to no attention in an emergency response context. Using a social exchange approach and a validated survey instrument deployed in two fire departments, this study explores the relationships between distributive and procedural justice and the affective outcomes of organizational commitment and job satisfaction, which research shows has a positive impact on performance levels. Perceived organizational support is also tested for mediation using bootstrapping procedures for indirect effects. Overall, the results for both departments show that perceived organizational support mediates the positive and significant relationships between the justice dimensions and affective outcomes. In turn, this suggests that leaders in the fire service may build fire departments that are more successful by providing fair treatment, procedures, and outcomes to firefighters, such as equal access to promotional opportunities, as favorable treatment, as this will be reciprocated with attitudes and behaviors that benefit the organization. While these findings are the first of their kind in the fire service, they align with findings from numerous studies focusing on other types of organizations.
Comparison of Shelter Population Needs Across Disasters
The American Red Cross, together with other nonprofit organizations, provides shelters for individuals in communities impacted by natural disasters. These groups collect and maintain data on the number of clients sheltered overnight for each disaster operation, as well as records on basic medical services provided. We have conducted an analysis on the number of shelters and number of overnight client stays across a number of historical disasters. Our results show that disaster location and disaster type both contribute to shelter needs in a specific disaster. We will present results and comparison of need/utilization for recent hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Florence), as well as compare each of these to historical events in the same geographic region (Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas, respectively). Historical information on the number of overnight stays/clients at Red Cross shelters would provide us with surge needs in a disaster based on disaster type, severity, and geography. Through these results and analyses, we can begin to understand the geographic, cultural, and temporal factors that determine vulnerability and sheltering needs in a disaster. We will also directly implement these results into Health and Human Services (HHS) disaster response operations to improve our support to state and local planning and response organizations.
Recovery Challenges of Public Housing Residents After Disasters: Lumberton, North Carolina Following Hurricane Matthew
Social vulnerability acknowledges that social structures shape disaster vulnerabilities and recovery outcomes. Public housing residents are some of the most socially vulnerable people who experience significant losses in disasters. Many factors, such as lower income and limited access to information, delay the housing recovery of public housing tenants. To explore these challenges, we examined the disaster impacts and recovery of public housing units in Lumberton, North Carolina, following the floods induced by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. This research is a part of an interdisciplinary recovery-based field study conducted by the Center of Excellence for Community Resilience Planning funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Lumberton is a socioeconomically diverse community with 729 public housing units, many of which were damaged during the floods. Using qualitative and spatial analysis, we investigated the recovery progress and challenges of public housing residents. Data on race, income, and housing tenure of the residents at the block group level were collected from the 2015 American Community Survey five-year estimation to map social vulnerability, and overlaid with the location of public housing and the spatial distribution of residential damages. In addition, household survey data on disaster impacts, recovery resources, household decisions, and dislocation, and in-depth interviews with local officials in Lumberton, were utilized to examine recovery challenges and progress. Findings show that housing tenure, race, and poverty make up the most significant portion of public housing residents’ vulnerabilities. Moreover, particular timelines, funding resources, and allocations influence the pace of the recovery of public housing residents.
Community Health Post-Disaster: An Interdisciplinary Convergent Challenge
Physical, chemical, and biological hazards in natural and built environments during and after extreme events can adversely affect community health. Undesirable health outcomes may result from exposure to contaminated media, changes in microbial communities and aquatic biota in nature and urban environments, increased disease vector activity, and acute and chronic changes in water, air, soil, and sediment quality. In this study, an interdisciplinary approach using remotely sensed, geospatial and hydro-systems data combined with environmental measurements and infectious disease analyses was applied to connect failures in environmental infrastructure and industrial facilities with community health. Remotely sensed data was used to identify mosquito-breeding habitats post Hurricane Harvey. The locations of potential habitats were cross-referenced with reported environmental failures and industrial releases during Harvey. Additionally, a principal coordinate analysis using the metagenomic profile of microbial populations in sediments and quantified sediment pollution enabled correlation between community health, pollution sources, vector habitats, and observed pollutants in the bayous and the Galveston Bay estuary in Houston. The developed geospatial models identified infrastructure failures and vulnerabilities to disease. The presence of ammonia oxidizers and extremophile bacteria confirmed adverse impacts on microbial diversity due to the presence of trace metals and other toxics.
The Role of County Emergency Managers in Hurricane Evacuation Decision-Making: Negotiating the Uncertainty Continuum
Emergency managers perform a critical role in the hurricane evacuation decision-making process. They are part of a team of analysts ranging from external entities, such as the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center, as well as state and county agencies, including policy groups made up of local leaders from education, government, transportation, social services, and many others. The emergency manager occupies a unique role as a type of middle person situated between technological specialists (meteorologists and others), community leaders, and the citizens of his or her jurisdiction. This study gathered interview data from 20 county emergency managers in Florida. The purpose of the exploratory study was to understand the decision-making processes involved in making hurricane evacuation orders. The findings show that emergency managers work to reduce uncertainty by factoring in data from statistical models of the projected track of a hurricane, as well as by using models that estimate evacuation transportation logistics (e.g., time, destinations, routes, and modes) for residents of their jurisdiction, also processing information specific to their geographic locations and its relationship to potential hurricane impacts. Emergency managers find themselves in a middle position. Uncertainty in such decision-making stems from a variety of sources detailed in the study.
Co-Learning Disaster Resilience: A Person-Centered Approach to Engaging with People from Refugee Backgrounds
My research examines how people from diverse refugee backgrounds learn about local hazards and find safety as they settle into new homes, cities, and suburbs in Australia. This is important to understand because people who have been displaced by disasters, conflict, and persecution are, most of all, looking for safety. Yet, in what ways do “refugee welcome zones” in Australia consider the safety of people from refugee backgrounds? Or, is safety assumed once people have been resettled? Further, how do people from refugee backgrounds draw on their past experiences and everyday practices and relationships to feel safe and secure? In 2017, I conducted 26 in-depth interviews with people from Burma, Congo, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Syria, and Uganda who were currently living across the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. Adopting a person-centered approach, I developed a resilience narrative mapping tool to better understand people’s experiences, strengths, challenges, and needs for feeling safe as they resettle in new places. For future work, I recommend adopting a person-centered approach to co-learning disaster resilience with people from diverse refugee backgrounds. My research demonstrates how this can be achieved through the design and implementation of collaborative, accountable, responsive, and empowering programs and services
Governing Disaster, Sustaining Accumulation: The Ecogovernmentality of Extraction
This paper explores the discursive production of and response to environmental disaster, contextualized through the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Confronting the spatiotemporal tensions of chronic and acute disaster, I interrogate the politics of visibility and measurement to illuminate biopolitical effects and lived experiences of extractive disaster. I (re)conceptualize environmental disaster to account for self-legitimating cycles of disaster production and response and examine socio environmental disasters as foundational to a global political economy fueled by oil. As such, many governing strategies employed to respond to extractive disasters are intimately bound up within the same systemic processes that have created them. Utilizing the tools of immanent critique, I advance an understanding of extraction as a logic of disaster governance and expose contradictions within quickly deployed mitigation efforts that often produce second- and third-order disasters and perpetuate disastrous systems of governance. Governance of disaster is thus a process of accumulation rather than a result of technological failure, human error, or ineffective regulation. Through intersecting vectors of extractive governmentality, I conclude that disaster is rendered legible, manageable, profitable, and litigable. I also highlight how the discursive processes that construct traditional power/knowledge formations of environmental disaster might be subverted through creative means.
Are You Ready for Recovery? Evidence Base for a Planners’ Disaster Recovery Handbook
There is a need for planners to understand recovery processes to effectively provide communities with needed tools. The American Planning Association (APA) and the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M University are collaborating to develop a recovery guidebook for planners and allied professionals. This poster presents background research that will be used to provide evidence-based guidance to these professionals. We use qualitative interviews and online surveys to address three research questions: What are planners’ (and allied professionals) perceptions of the disaster recovery process and their roles in community recovery? What do they need to know about disaster recovery to better support their communities? How would they like to learn or train in disaster recovery? A systematic literature review on community recovery was carried out. As a result, an electronic library and annotated bibliography was made publicly available on the APA website. The systematic literature review helped frame the interview and survey questions. Interviews targeted professionals who had experienced or supported community recovery previously and examined these planners’ and disaster specialists’ concerns, perceptions, and best practices about disaster recovery. Interviews were coded and analyzed using qualitative research methods. Online surveys were conducted with a sample of APA members to primarily examine planners’ concerns and perceptions toward community recovery. Results from these data will be presented.
In the Absence of Consequential Past Events for Disaster Risk Analysis: A Counterfactual Framework for Uncovering Black Swans
Anticipating future natural disaster risks, and the associated consequences, is one of the main challenges facing disaster risk management. Our understanding of the future is heavily rooted in the consequences of the past, which presents two issues: Do the losses, or consequences, of our past record accurately reflect the potential consequences of the future? (the consequences of our past are largely driven by randomness, and a single realization of an event may not capture the full range of possibility), and What can be done in a region or city without a record of past consequential events? Through an interdisciplinary approach bridging engineering, science, history, and psychology, we formalize the use of a counterfactual, consequence-driven framework in order to better capture the full range of possible consequences from past events. Specifically, in this presentation, we will show how this framework can be used to develop a catalog of consequential events, even in a place where such records do not exist. We exercise the framework for multiple hazards on past near-miss events of Singapore, a highly urban island city-state. Through this lens, we will discuss how even past black swan events (unforeseen, low-probability, high-impact events) can underestimate consequences and unintentionally limit our imagination for future disaster preparedness.
Post-Disaster Informatics: A Technological Approach to Recovery Planning
After the 2015 Nepal earthquake, the government requested and allocated recovery aid based on the amount of building damage. Two questions arise from the use of building damage estimates for these decisions: Were the building damage estimates accurate? Is building damage necessarily the most useful metric for aid allocation? In the Informatics for Equitable Recovery project, our team of engineers, social scientists, and civil society organizations is trying to address these questions. Our project aims to develop more accurate damage estimates, assess additional socioeconomic vulnerabilities and impacts that lead to low recovery, and model impact as a combination of damage and socioeconomic vulnerabilities. Currently, our team has been able to model damage and is undertaking an extensive household survey to assess the factors that lead to recovery. In this presentation, I will discuss both the potential and challenges for developing informatics to inform recovery plans, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, where many countries have little pre-existing data. Most importantly, our goal is that this presentation will lead to a discussion of the limitations of technological solutions, such as improved informatics, in complex techno-political decisions, such as recovery planning.
How Senior Executives Make Sense of Crisis Situations in the Chinese Governmental Pishi System: Findings from Simulation Exercises
In a typical crisis infused with uncertainty, leaders have to make sense of cues emerging from a dynamic environment and construct meanings from crisis situations. This research differs from other studies in three ways. First, there have been extensive case studies on crisis sensemaking, which have suggested further large sample size tests. Second, because of limited access to senior executives in times of crisis, most current studies examine the operational level. Third, most survey or experiment-based behavior research studies still rely on students or online samples, methods which have relatively low external validity. By contrast, this research includes senior executives from Chinese public organizations as study subjects to depict senior leaders’ behaviors. This research aims to fill the above three gaps by examining senior executives’ sensemaking behaviors in times of crisis based on a dataset collected from simulation exercises. To investigate this behavior, this research aims to capture the dynamic based on a unique Chinese phenomenon, Pishi. Pishi refers to instructions written by leaders on internal official documents to demonstrate their decisions on reported affairs. In the Chinese bureaucratic system, Pishi is widely used to issue commands crossing hierarchies in both normal and crisis situations, which are archived as decision records. This research tries to uncover sensemaking behaviors based on data collected from senior executive simulation exercises with a typical scenario of the Pishi system.
A Model of Networked Planning? Evaluating the Plans and People of Tulsa’s Award-Winning Risk Reduction Efforts
We examine two inter-related issues in interdisciplinary hazards work: the networks of stakeholders involved in local planning processes and the network of plan documents generated by planning processes. We pursue an in-depth case analysis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a community recognized for over 40 years as a national leader in long-term risk reduction, now often framed as planning for resilience. In this context we seek to answer three main questions: What are the structures of the dynamic networks of stakeholders and plans in Tulsa, with particular focus on connections between planners and emergency managers? How have the network structures fostered Tulsa’s successes in long-term risk reduction? What, if any, gaps or shortcomings in Tulsa’s efforts are exposed by understanding the networks of stakeholders and plans? We draw on and extend well-developed research methods and analytical techniques, including content analysis and network analysis. We collect and analyze a wide array of local plans related to risk reduction. We replicate and refine content analysis tools used to measure planning process characteristics, organizational involvement, plan integration, and policies and actions. We also conduct interviews and web-based surveys with key stakeholders. We contextualize our findings from these primary datasets with insights from a review of documents written about Tulsa’s efforts. Altogether, we apply network concepts and analytical techniques and triangulate within the case study to better understand how a community can create a resilient network of plans and people to develop and implement those plans.
Evaluating the Suitability and Alignment of Zoning and Land Use Planning in Flood-Hazard Areas
Flood events are exacting an increasingly heavy toll on communities. Along with broader trends in climate change and coastal urbanization, local land use decisions are important contributing factors. Urban planning and zoning guide and regulate land use, but some uses are more suitable than others in flood-prone areas, e.g., parks and open spaces are less vulnerable to flooding than dense residential developments. We spatially evaluate future land use planning and zoning to reveal whether a community is being guided and regulated in a more suitable (less vulnerable) direction with respect to land use in flood-hazard areas, as well as instances of incongruity and locations where each may effect an increase in vulnerability. Land use categories are standardized and compared to reveal the “land use suitability change” for each parcel, if planning and regulatory prescriptions are followed. Testing the method in Tampa, Florida, we find that the city is generally “headed in the right direction,” but that planned land uses are often more suitable than zoning in flood-hazard areas. Hot spots of especially low suitability and areas of conflict between future land use guidance and zoning are also revealed. Such results may contribute to focused reevaluations aimed at strengthening resilience through land use.
Multinomial Random Parameter Modeling of First Decisions Made by Households During the Approach of Hurricane Matthew
There is a substantial knowledge base concerning the variables that influence the decisions that people make when faced with an approaching hurricane. However, there exists a research gap in evacuation decision-making with respect to investigating these decisions relative to each other in temporal terms. To this end, our interdisciplinary research team crafted an approach for investigating evacuation decision ordering. The team conducted a post-Hurricane Matthew household survey that integrated research questions about six decisions related to hurricane evacuations: evacuate or stay, time to leave, evacuation accommodations, evacuation destination, travel mode, and travel route. Using this survey data, the team began a multinomial random parameter modeling process for the first decisions that survey respondents reported. The first decisions were grouped into four categories: evacuate or stay by itself; accommodations by itself; evacuate or stay with any other first decision; and any other combination. After modeling, the following variables were significant in determining first-decision sets: presence of family/friends in the evacuation destination; frequency of personal contact consultation; hurricane impact location certainty; personal resource availability; lack of previous hurricane exposure; marital status; and home wind damage concern. The most abundant first-decision set was the choice of whether or not to evacuate by itself.
Identifying the Barriers to Building Back Better: A Case Study of Christchurch, New Zealand
This presentation reports on our interdisciplinary research team’s examination of the barriers to building back better following disaster. The work involves architects, sociologists, and disaster researchers. It is a mixed-methods approach incorporating key informant interviews, participant observation and document analysis, supplemented by Official Information Act requests. The broad focus is on how we build sustainability into the city. The narrow focus is on the place of renewable energy in this process. The city in question is post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand, which we read as a laboratory for an urban planet facing unprecedented environmental stresses. The rebuild has prioritized physical over social infrastructure, and present environmental conditions over anticipated threats. Despite widespread belief that disasters offer the perfect “opportunity” to do things differently, we conclude that actors still find themselves constrained in many ways. For while buildings crumble, institutions and vested interests endure. In the face of current evidence, it appears that Christchurch has built the last city of the twentieth century rather than the first city of this one. The recent terrorist attacks add another layer of complexity to the recovery, as the city desperately needs to attract people and capital if it is to prosper.
The Political Economy of Health Security: Geographic Variation in Financing, Capabilities, and Networks
Preparedness for health emergencies varies widely across the United States, but the causes and consequences of these differences are poorly understood. We use the National Health Security Preparedness Index to examine how financing mechanisms, health insurance coverage, and multi-sector community networks interact in influencing preparedness levels across states and counties. The index aggregates data from national household surveys, medical records, safety inspection results, and health agency surveys to produce annual composite measures for states, counties, and the United States overall. We link index data for 2013–2018 with contemporaneous data on preparedness spending, health insurance coverage, community characteristics, and the composition of local preparedness networks. We use hierarchical panel regression models with instrumental variables to estimate how changes in spending, coverage, and networks influence preparedness levels. Our results indicate that preparedness improved by 12.3 percent on average from 2013–2018, but this varied twofold across states in critical domains, such as community planning and environmental health. Preparedness increased by 1.8 percent for each $10 per capita increase in financing (p<0.01), by 3.2 percent for each 10 point increase in insurance coverage (p<0.01), and by 5.7 percent for each 10 point increase in network density (p<0.01). Disaster recovery spending declined by $151 per capita for each 1 percent increase in preparedness (p<0.05). We conclude that gains in financing, insurance coverage, and network density appear to strengthen preparedness and may offset subsequent recovery costs.
Exploring Why People Do Not Perform the ShakeOut Drill in New Zealand
Our study examines ShakeOut, the earthquake drill and why people struggled to take the protective actions of “Drop, Cover, and Hold on.” To answer this question, we drew from a longitudinal citizen science observation project (2012/2015) in New Zealand that involved more than 9,000 volunteer observers. This interdisciplinary project included researchers from social psychology, sociology, and anthropology.
New Zealand has experienced heightened seismic activity since 2009. Given New Zealand’s recent experiences, we assumed that most people would perform the drill. However, our findings revealed a more complex story. Almost 40 percent of people did not participate, despite registering. We found that barriers to participating included: embarrassment, caretakers of children, high body mass, disbelief in the efficacy of the drill, and restrictive clothing. This research identified unique challenges and provided valuable insights into why people do not Drop, Cover, and Hold on.
Assessing the Feasibility of an In-Home Medical Countermeasures Dispensing Model for Vulnerable Homebound Populations
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prescribes a 48-hour timeline between the declaration of a public health emergency and the treatment of the last person with Strategic National Stockpile medical countermeasures (MCMs). Yet, many states struggle to meet the 48-hour window. Issues surrounding adequate staffing, critical to maintaining necessary Points of Dispensing (POD) throughout, are noted in the literature. The utilization of public and private partnerships in the health care sector may improve POD throughput. This research proposes a novel strategy for partnering with home health agencies (HHAs) to augment MCM distribution. The HHA In-Home Dispensing Model we propose authorizes HHAs to act as closed PODs to dispense to HHA staff, clients and their families. In this presentation, we evaluate the effectiveness of the model utilizing a case study. First, we provide an overview of the time study and Monte Carlo simulation techniques used to estimate the in-home portion of nurse dispensing shifts (i.e., service time with the client). Second, we describe the geospatial techniques used to estimate the driving portion of the shifts. These two steps combine to provide an estimate of the overall duration of in-home nurse dispensing shifts. Results are presented for our case study area, and we discuss how the model can be used and its limitations. We conclude that the HHA in-home SNS Dispensing Model shows promise and should receive further consideration, as it can decrease demand at open PODs and increase the reach of MCMs to vulnerable populations who might otherwise have difficulty receiving them.
Disruption of Infrastructure Services and Post-Disaster Household Recovery Following Hurricane Irma
Widespread power outages after major storms can thwart community and household recovery by limiting access to critical facilities and services. In this analysis, we examine the relationship between power outages and household recovery using a Bayesian multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression with random-walk Metropolis-Hastings sampling and a four-level nested hierarchical structure: household, urban/rural, county, and region. Household-level recovery was assessed using responses from a cross-sectional survey (n=936) collected through an online platform and landlines in 29 Florida counties eight months after Hurricane Irma’s landfall. Levels of damage, number of days without electricity, insurance, and access to health services were found to be significant predictors of household recovery. At the county level, the extent and duration of power outages, percent accounts served by rural and municipal cooperatives, and hurricane wind swaths and return periods were statistically significant. The random intercepts for county, region, and urban/ rural areas were also statistically significant, suggesting that the regional effects of disruptions play an important role in household recovery. The findings from this study provide insights on the impact of infrastructure disruptions on household recovery, making a case for more comprehensive interdisciplinary studies to reduce power outage-related exposure of vulnerable populations.
Gathering High Quality Information on Landslides from Twitter
Social networking platforms are increasingly used to report or pass along news and other valuable information. Their use increases especially during emergency situations and can be monitored for the analysis of adverse events, such as disasters. In this talk, I will provide an overview of a comprehensive disaster information system using social networks, with landslides serving as an illustrative example. I will briefly describe each of the steps involved and focus on the classification and ranking steps that determine the relevance of individual messages and groups of messages to landslides. I will introduce the concept of "relevant" and "irrelevant" virtual communities of users and compute their influence in each of them. This allows us to improve the existing relevance ranking formula by considering not only the semantics of the messages posted by users, but also the users’ influence and the amount of their activity in these communities to improve the quality of the collected information on landslides. The resulting system achieves a 0.936 F1-score in classifying individual messages and a 0.941 F1-score in relevance ranking of the events.
Planning for Climate Change in New York City’s Waterfront Communities: A Case Study of Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Coastal megacities are formulating and implementing adaptation policies in response to climate change. Cities, driven by the logic of neoliberal urbanism, continue to pursue growth-oriented initiatives related to waterfront redevelopment in flood-prone areas. Consequently, the planning process around climate adaptation is shaped by the urban growth agenda. New York City is among the leading urban centers to tackle the issue of balancing waterfront revitalization in the context of greater risks and exposure to climate extremes. The Sunset Park waterfront, located in Brooklyn, is a site of contestation over land use and climate resilience strategies between municipal agencies, private sector interests, and community-based organizations. This paper examines efforts to transform the Sunset Park industrial waterfront, focusing on two key issues: industrial retention and climate resilience. Specifically, it investigates how New York City is factoring climate resilience strategies into local land development policies. It also identifies key actors and institutions, as well as key policy instruments, to provide insights into the transformation of Sunset Park and other industrial waterfront areas in the city. Preliminary findings indicate that land use and zoning regulations are major factors influencing climate resilience strategies. In addition, recent efforts to integrate climate resilience into local land-use planning are taking place in a patchwork manner, ranging from broad and overarching guidelines to project-by-project bases. Finally, there is a need for consideration of social justice and equity in industrial waterfront neighborhoods that are experiencing rapid demographic and socioeconomic transition.
Puerto Rico and the Diaspora: Efforts and Capacity of Nongovernmental Organizations Responding to Evacuees
Within the span of two short weeks, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, causing a staggering $90 billion in damages and displacing hundreds of thousands of households. When flights to the mainland United States resumed weeks later, Puerto Rican evacuees began streaming into the country, illuminating disaster-induced migration and displacement. Local governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were surprised by the arrival of these evacuees and unprepared to deal with their recovery needs. This research project encompassed two qualitative case studies that examined how Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) groups and the Hispanic NGO community in New York City and Philadelphia used the VOAD Long-Term Recovery Committee model to respond to the needs of evacuees showing up locally. Research questions were: Are U.S. NGO models of disaster recovery suited to internally displaced persons needs outside the area of impact? What changes to doctrine, policy, and processes are necessary as U.S. NGOs face future disasters? Major themes in both projects were: Federal Emergency Management Agency inadequate response to evacuees, issues with trust between new partners, the role of local government partners, resource scarcity, donors who did not prioritize the evacuee problem, and social justice, equity and advocacy.
Comparative Research on Neighborhood Reactions and Recovery Strategies from Hurricane Irma in 2017 in Hillsborough County, Florida
Intensified natural hazards, in particular hurricanes in Florida, are potential catastrophic risks intersecting with sea level rise. Hillsborough County, a part of the Tampa Bay area, adopted a Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan (PDRP) in 2010 to address potential major impacts by prioritizing actions for mitigation measures to create a smooth recovery process post-disaster. Although a change in course of Hurricane Irma in 2017 kept the Tampa Bay area from receiving a direct hit, severe floods still impacted particularly low-lying areas in the county. The PDRP was not activated given the limited impact, but the fundamental question about long-term recovery in case of catastrophic impacts remains: Who will stay and how many will leave after the next disaster? Reactions of households to catastrophic hurricanes should be examined before the next potential catastrophe. Therefore, this research aims to identify the functions of the PDRP in Hillsborough County, and to describe the households’ reactions to Hurricane Irma in different socioeconomic sub-divisions in the county. This research uses an interdisciplinary approach to planning and public health, with semi-structured interviews and questionnaire surveys. The results indicate that high-risk area residents have insurance, while new-flood zone areas consist of residents without insurance. The biggest discrepancy among respondents is the concept of the home, i.e., whether residents think their home is their final destination or just a transition in life.
Impact of Targeted Information on Perceived Risk of Sea Level Rise in South Florida
In South Florida, climate change and sea level rise are evident in more frequent street flooding from tides and more frequent severe hurricanes. Nonetheless, much of the general public remains ignorant of or indifferent to the problem of climate change. This research explores factors associated with the beliefs of residents about climate change, sea level rise, and their expectations about the future of the local housing market, as well as support for a variety of mitigation measures. Using large-scale maps derived from the website FloodIQ.com, a site dedicated to increasing awareness of sea level rise impacts, we surveyed nearly 1,000 residents of zip codes in South Florida who are particularly susceptible to coastal flooding. The survey was conducted in late 2018. The goal was to see if exposure to such information increased the likelihood that people would accept the reality of climate change, sea level rise, and the linkage between the two. We found that providing these maps had a counterintuitive or “boomerang” effect, reducing rather than increasing concern with sea level rise or worry about risk to their own communities and property.
Implementing the Collective Method
This presentation will focus on the “collective method,” here defined as “an integrated, reflexive process of research design and implementation, in which a diverse group of scholars studying a common phenomenon—yet working on independent projects—engage in repeated theoretical and methodological discussions to improve research transparency and accountability and the rigor and efficacy of each member’s unique project.” Born out of the work of a 12-member research collective that formed after Hurricane Katrina, the collective method process generates critical discussions over researchers’ and respondents’ positionality, the framework of intersectionality, and applied ethics. Informed by feminist theoretical and methodological considerations of reflexivity, insider-outsider positionality, power relations, and social justice, the collective method can enhance scholars’ standpoints regarding philosophical, ethical, and strategic issues that emerge in the research process. Audience members will be invited to consider how they might initiate the collective method in the context of their own working groups, and all participants will be encouraged to read the assigned article in advance.
Post-Disaster Household Dislocation After Hurricanes Andrew, Ike, and Matthew
This research explores household residential dislocation after three hurricanes: Andrew in August 1992, Ike in September 2008, and Matthew in October 2016. The decision to dislocate may be driven not only by damage to structures, but also by social factors related to vulnerability, such as ethnicity, income, and tenure. Surveys, including structural damage inspections, face-to-face interviews with residents where possible, and interviews with neighbors or residential managers where necessary, were conducted with randomly sampled housing units after each hurricane. The responses from three surveys are pooled into a single dataset to allow for analysis and comparison of factors influencing the probability of dislocation. Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane, was primarily a wind event, and Hurricane Ike, was primarily a surge event, while Hurricane Matthew, was a riverine flooding event for the community of Lumberton, North Carolina. The analyses attempt to capture the major factors shaping household dislocation: damage from wind, flooding, or both, and socioeconomic factors. The development of this dislocation model will help identify vulnerable residential areas in communities that have a higher probability of population loss due to household dislocation.
Beyond Internships: Experiential Learning as a Tool for Emergency Management Education
Experiential learning has emerged as a best practice in higher education and professional development programs. This presentation describes the 100-hour training requirement of an undergraduate degree program at a mid-sized public research university in the northeastern United States. The four tiers of the training program are foundational training, professional development, community engagement, and concentration-specific training. Each tier is assigned a minimum number of hours that students must complete in order to meet the requirements of the program. The tiered structure focuses students’ activities, ensuring that they engage in experiences that support the development of each of the content areas deemed important for student success as they transition from the academic to the professional realm. This paper illustrates a new way to integrate experiential learning into emergency management curriculum through a 100-hour training requirement and demonstrates the benefits this type of educational experience can have for the students and the larger community. Beyond educational theory, external training opportunities professionalize students to the practical knowledge of the field and into a culture of continuous learning. It also offers the potential to serve the broader community, reflecting the value that higher education can have in communities.
Benefit-Cost Analysis Quantifies the Outcomes that Philosophers of Utilitarianism said Should Govern Public Policy: Providing a Theoretical Basis to Set Resilience Norms
The National Institute of Building Sciences recently released a report entitled Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves, updating a groundbreaking 2005 study for the U.S. Congress on the cost-effectiveness of federally funded disaster mitigation. The 2005 study has become the most cited benefit-cost analysis for natural hazard mitigation, purportedly inspiring thousands of mitigation efforts. The 2019 study expands on prior work by examining the cost effectiveness of code development, above-code design, and private-sector retrofit, and by considering fire at the wildland-urban interface, along with earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves estimates benefits across society: reduced property losses to owners and tenants; improved life safety for building occupants; economic continuity for building occupants and for the people with whom they trade; savings to the federal treasury; and others. The breadth of benefits matters here because the benefits measure the public good on which philosophers Bentham, Mill, Hume, and other advocates of utilitarianism urged their societies to base public policy. Setting resilience norms counts as public policy. Despite prominent calls to do so, engineers and building officials have balked at deliberately setting such norms, partly from a lack of necessary education and organization. But they can perform and understand benefit-cost analysis, a common feature of undergraduate engineering economics courses. Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves and its methodology can help building code authors deliberately set ethically sound resilience norms, consistent with the first fundamental canon of the civil engineer’s code of ethics: to hold paramount the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Gender and Representative Bureaucracy: A Qualitative Look at Opportunities and Barriers for Women in Local Emergency Management Agencies
Through the frame of representative bureaucracy, this study examines the experiences of women working in local emergency management agencies to explore the opportunities and barriers that female emergency managers encounter as employees of these agencies. A nationwide survey collected data on perceptions of representation and discretion, as well as work/life balance, career progression, and discrimination/harassment. Presented here are the qualitative analyses for career progression and discrimination/harassment. Highlighted are the systemic organizational barriers that contribute to limited career progression and the pervasiveness of discrimination and harassment in local emergency management agencies. In addition, structural obstacles and opportunities for change are discussed. Lastly, the author examines cultural shifts in the reporting of sexual misconduct since the study has taken place, prompted by the revolutionary #MeToo movement.
“Hands I Can Depend On”: Inmate Firefighters and the Struggling Fire and Emergency Services in Georgia
Across the United States, fire and emergency response systems are facing numerous obstacles. Emergency and disaster response calls have dramatically increased over the past several decades, yet the number of volunteers has significantly declined. More than 70 percent of fire departments in the United States rely only on volunteers, especially in rural areas. State agencies and local governments in Georgia look to the Georgia Department of Corrections to provide between 220 and 280 inmates each year—trained and certified as firefighters—to respond to car accidents, structural fires, missing person reports, bomb incidents, hazardous materials incidents, military disasters, tornadoes, wildfires, and other major disasters, including the recent Hurricanes Irma and Michael. Through qualitative interviews with former participants and emergency, corrections, and government officials, as well as analyses of policies, news media, and other documents, this study examined the role of inmate firefighters across emergency and disaster response in the state. Results found that obstacles facing local governments and fire departments are prompting further incorporation of inmates into emergency services, including housing inmate teams full-time in civilian fire stations and adding inmates to the state’s official Georgia Search and Rescue (GSAR) teams. These findings reflect the imperiled state of emergency services in many communities and have implications for the future of emergency and disaster response, as inmates are increasingly looked to as a captive source of labor in the United States that can be put to work throughout the life cycle of disasters, despite being a vulnerable population.
Differential Effects of Wildfire Smoke Exposures on Respiratory Health: A Case Study of the 2008 Northern California Wildfires
In the western United States and elsewhere, the frequency of large wildfires, their durations, and the length of the wildfire seasons have all increased, and future projections indicate even higher fire risks in the future. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from wildfires has been associated with increased risk of exacerbations of respiratory disease, specifically asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but also with some cardiovascular health endpoints, and mortality. Although there is a large and growing literature that there are differential health impacts of chronic exposure to air pollution from other sources on communities of color and lower income communities, very few studies have investigated whether there are differential health impacts of wildfire smoke exposure by socioeconomic status (SES) or race. This presentation will discuss research to identify if there is differential risk of air pollution exposures during wildfires by SES or race during the 2008 northern California wildfires. We found significant associations between asthma emergency department (ED) visits and PM2.5 during the wildfires, regardless of SES level. ED visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were only associated with PM2.5 during a wildfire event for ZIP codes with the lowest levels of SES, but this result was consistent for various SES measures. Understanding differential risk of health impacts from wildfire smoke is increasingly important, as wildfires are contributing more to our air pollution exposures, particularly in western North America.
How Public Managers Make Trade-Offs Regarding Lives: Evidence from a Flood Planning Survey Experiment
Public administrators exercise discretion over a host of matters, including decisions that implicitly trade off lives compared to other objectives, such as economic prosperity or health and well-being. While practitioners routinely make choices and the scholarly field of public administration analyzes trade-offs among a number of public values, there are almost no empirical analyses of whether and how public managers make trade-offs over lives. Our study asks managers to choose among flood planning scenarios with different outcomes and finds that lives are one issue about which they make trade-offs. We survey city and county managers, emergency managers, public works managers, and urban planners about a flood risk decision that they all commonly face, but which typically has an implicit rather than explicit potential trade-off regarding lives. We find that individual managers do make trade-offs regarding lives compared to other features in planning scenarios, including project cost, and property damage sustained. Among the four professional groups we compare, public works managers show a greater aversion to fatalities, while city managers and planners are less averse and emergency managers show no significant relationship. We also find that public managers prefer plans in which losses are distributed equally across a county rather than being concentrated in high- or low-income areas, which suggests that managers favor decisions corresponding to a particular notion of equity.
Working at the Intersection of Research and Practice: Lessons from the Resilient Colorado Initiative
This presentation will contribute to the discussion on the nexus between research and practice by reflecting on experiences coordinating the Resilient Colorado initiative, which was born out of the 2012–2013 wildfires and floods in the state. Over the past five years, the Resilient Colorado initiative has sought to create a research/practice/learning nexus around questions of disaster recovery, community resilience, and land use planning for hazards mitigation and climate change adaptation. I will describe the origins and features of the Resilient Colorado initiative, describe two of our key initiatives (collaborating with the Town of Lyons on their disaster recovery plan and the Planning for Hazards project), and highlight some of the key benefits and challenges of pursuing practice and community-based research.
History At Risk: A Multi-Scalar Analysis of Historic Preservation and Flood Hazards in Colorado
Protecting historic resources from natural hazards is an important part of building resilient communities. Historic resources shape our sense of place and preserve a community’s shared identity during times of crisis. They are also important contributors to local and regional employment and economic activity. In Colorado, for instance, many small towns and resort communities rely on their historic resources to provide a sense of place and to help drive tourism spending.
Many historic resources were built before development regulations, however, and are located in hazardous areas, such as floodplains. While there is a burgeoning literature that explores the exposure of historic resources and archeological sites to sea level rise and coastal flooding, there are relatively few studies that analyze the risks posed by riverine flooding and other climate-induced extreme events. In this study, we analyze the risk of flooding for Colorado’s historic resources at multiple scales. First, we map the state’s historic resources and analyze their potential exposure to future flood events. Next, we use a comparative case study research design to study 10 Colorado communities or counties where historic resources contribute to economic activity through qualitative interviews and plans analysis. We find that a significant number of historic resources in the state are at risk from flooding, and that most communities do not proactively plan for or protect their historic resources with regards to flood hazards.
Video Games and Earthquake Preparedness: Effects of Avatar Identification and Resource Richness
Because earthquake preparedness is multi-faceted and circumstance-specific, effective communication strategies require sustained engagement with target audiences. Video games can potentially promote such engagement and provide tools for researching what motivates preparedness behavior. We use four versions of a custom-built video game in an experiment engaging participants aged 18 to 29 in Portland, Oregon, in preparing for the anticipated Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. Using a social cognitive framework, we assess pre- and post-play levels of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, and intent to act relative to a number of earthquake preparedness and response actions. In particular, we focus on whether these metrics are affected by levels of identification with the player’s avatar or resources available within the game. The “high-identification” condition allows the player to choose and name an avatar from among six characters of diverse appearances, while the “low-identification” condition involves a randomly assigned avatar named Player. In the “high-resource” condition, players have more money to buy supplies before the earthquake and greater strength to perform a rescue after the earthquake. Preliminary results show that self-efficacy and intent to act increase significantly for actions depicted in the game but not for other relevant actions, and these effects are not significantly different across experimental conditions.
A Computational Framework for Regional Earthquake Loss Estimation
A major challenge in natural hazards engineering is the determination of the effects of an event on an entire region. Regional impact estimates of this type are central to effective planning efforts by city and regional planners, and for maximum utility they need to be conducted at as fine a scale as is practically possible. This work describes a computational framework developed at the National Science Foundation Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infwaelrastructure SimCenter to study the effects of natural hazards on communities at a regional scale. The modular and extensible framework allows researchers to simulate the response of structures using multiple fidelity models and perform damage and loss estimation for all structures in a region of interest. These large-scale simulations provide aggregated and granular damage and loss estimates for the region, taking into account both the uncertainty in the structural material properties and the loading on the structures due to the natural hazard. Two testbed simulations demonstrate the capability of the framework—one for the San Francisco Bay Area for a synthetic magnitude 7.0 earthquake scenario on the Hayward Fault, and another for the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that occurred on November 30, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. The extensibility of the framework is demonstrated by characterizing the earthquake hazards using different models, namely seismic hazard analysis, stochastic earthquake loading models, and physics-based ground motion simulations. Results from both simulations are compared to regional structural damage and loss estimates obtained using the Federal Emergency Management Agencies HAZUS tool.
Interdisciplinary Research and Community Partnerships to Develop a System Dynamics Disaster Resilience Model
The Composite of Post-Event Well-Being (COPEWELL) project has developed a system dynamics approach to model community resilience through the collaboration of experts from a range of disciplines and community partners. COPEWELL focuses on the following questions: What are the key domains that drive community functioning during and after disasters? What potential interventions, informed by these key domains, are necessary to build resilience? What evidence-based practices and tools, based on this community resilience model, would best serve practitioners? We formed a multidisciplinary team to develop a conceptual model and associated computational model to predict community functioning and resilience during and after disasters. To drive the computational model, we identified publicly-available quantitative measures for the model’s domains, and then used system dynamics modeling to predict county-level resilience across the United States. We complemented this approach with qualitative self-assessment tools (“rubrics”) for community functioning; social capital and cohesion; emergency management; prevention and mitigation; vulnerability, inequality, and deprivation; and social capital and cohesion. In pilot testing, the model showed cohesive spatial patterns of resilience, which had face validity with stakeholders. Furthermore, the model demonstrated utility to serve as a tool to bring community members and practitioners from disparate fields together to holistically conceptualize community resilience and identify interventions suited to that community. This work reflects the power of interdisciplinary applied research and systems thinking to increase practitioner and community collaboration in preparedness activities, as well as promoting understanding of the contributions of the whole community in disaster resilience-enhancing activities.
Knowledge, Attitude, Preparedness, and Skills: A Disaster Training Approach for High-Risk Communities
Communities along the United States Gulf Coast are at high risk of natural and man-made hazards. We developed a disaster training designed to increase Knowledge, Attitude, Preparedness, and Skills (K.A.P.S). We held a series of six identical training sessions in Geismar, Louisiana, a community that faces multiple hazards. Residents (n=34) were trained using a community-tailored approach that combined constructivist (hands-on) and traditional (lecture) methods of instruction. Pre-test and post-test surveys demonstrated that the instructional content was effective (p<0.01), and that individual preparedness knowledge increased significantly because of the constructivist teaching approach (p<0.047). The results indicate that this high-hazard setting called for more extensive instructional content, constructivist teaching methods, and the inclusion of residents at all education levels.
The Paradoxes of Government Disaster Policy: Residential Mobility Decisions of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Recipients
In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc on the city of Lumberton, North Carolina. Less than two years later, in September 2018, before recovering fully from Matthew, the city was devastated by Hurricane Florence. This unique timeline of repetitive disasters presents an opportunity for exploratory research on the role of federal disaster assistance in community recovery. Using regression analysis and semi-structured interviews with 15 homeowners who received Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) assistance for property acquisition, elevation, or reconstruction following Hurricane Matthew, this study investigates differences in the property values and occupancy status of HMGP recipients based on their decision to remain (via property elevation or reconstruction) or relocate (via property acquisition). Field observation indicates that more than 68.5 percent of HMGP recipients’ homes are vacant, demonstrating significant differences in the long-term mobility of households who received HMGP funds, as well as the post-disaster recovery trajectory of both households and neighborhoods. Preliminary results indicate significant differences in socio-demographic characteristics at the neighborhood level among HMGP recipients. This study provides planners and policymakers a holistic view of federal disaster assistance at the neighborhood level and insights into community resilience.
The Cascading Consequences of Sea Level Rise: Evaluating Flood-Induced Commute Disruption in the San Francisco Bay Area
A coastal flood event in the San Francisco Bay Area has the potential to cause massive commute disruptions, triggering socioeconomic consequences for employees, such as loss of wages and jobs, loss of business due to the delay or absence of employees, less time with family, and increases in traffic accidents and loss of life. Moreover, without adequate planning, the frequency of flood-induced commute disruption will likely increase in upcoming decades due to rising sea levels. In a collaborative effort with Stanford’s Sustainable Urban Systems initiative and the Office of Sustainability in San Mateo County, the effects of coastal flooding on traffic networks is explored. This study models changes in commute patterns, estimates the corresponding increases in commute time, and assesses areas of high congestion in response to a number of sea level rise and storm scenarios. To simulate flood-induced commute disruption, elevation data is appended into a regional road network, which includes variables for modeling traffic flow. To produce travel time estimates under various flood scenarios, the regional road network is merged with an origin-destination dataset and flood maps. After identifying inundated roadways, an iterative traffic assignment model is used to dynamically assign commuters to their feasible shortest-time routes during peak commute times. We find that inundated roadways in the immediate vicinity of the Bay Area can disrupt commute patterns further inland, highlighting the far-reaching impacts of coastal flooding. Quantifying indirect losses such as commute disruption may help provide context beyond direct economic loss for sustainable risk adaptation.
Natural or Natech? The Influence of Hazard Perceptions Following Hurricane Harvey
Researchers have traditionally defined disasters as either “natural” or “technological,” and an extensive literature has documented differential social consequences based on this distinction. There is also growing recognition that many disasters can be conceptualized as “natech”—disasters characterized by natural and technological elements. Drawing from the Survey of Trauma, Resilience, and Opportunity in Neighborhoods in the Gulf (STRONG), we analyze two waves of cohort panel data collected from households on the Texas Gulf Coast in 2016 and 2018 (before and after Hurricane Harvey). We examine differences in health and perceptions of recovery depending on whether respondents view Hurricane Harvey as a natural or natech disaster. Preliminary findings indicate that those who view Harvey as a natech disaster are less trusting of recovery efforts, are more worried about ongoing impacts, and are less likely to believe their communities and local leadership are capable of dealing with the hurricane’s aftermath. Respondents who view Hurricane Harvey as a natech disaster are also more likely to report exposure to chemicals during the disaster. However, we find no evidence of significant differences in symptoms of depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For the meeting, we will develop multivariate models employing pre- and post-Harvey data to explore these relationships further.
Interdisciplinary Research to Support Tropical Cyclone Mitigation in Australia
Individuals living in hurricane- and cyclone-prone areas are increasingly vulnerable to property damage and community disruption. For older housing (i.e., pre-modern building code) in particular, structural engineering upgrades can mitigate losses. However, the majority of older building stocks in these areas do not have such upgrades installed. To effectively increase hurricane mitigation actions, it is important to understand the factors that facilitate or impede an individual’s decision to upgrade a property or perform preparedness activities. This talk will present recent findings from a research project to investigate these factors in North Queensland, Australia, and incorporate findings into a smartphone-based decision support tool for promoting mitigation actions. To understand the factors that influence hurricane mitigation behavior, people living in North Queensland were surveyed using an online questionnaire. Informed by engineering analysis and well-researched psychology models, the questionnaire assessed people’s demographic characteristics, experience with hurricanes, perceptions about hurricane risk, and perceptions about structural engineering mitigation upgrades. The questionnaire also assessed people’s current household mitigation status, as well as future mitigation intentions. Results suggest that perceived hurricane risk and the benefits of mitigation, relative to cost, influence mitigation behavior. Further analysis was used to understand how people differ in their perceptions toward hurricane risk and mitigation behavior. This presentation will provide insight into these differences and discuss how findings were incorporated into the mitigation decision support tool.
A Multidisciplinary Approach to Disaster Preparedness for Nuclear Accidents at Kyushu University, Japan
The Fukushima nuclear power accident caused by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami shocked people around the world. As a result, each nuclear power plant in Japan has implemented stricter regulations since the accident. Local governments have obligations to create evacuation plans for residents within 30 km of a nuclear power plant. Kyushu University is located 32 km from the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. Because Kyushu University is outside of the protective zone, the local government is not required to provide preparedness assistance to the university population. Disaster researchers and medical doctors have begun to approach disaster preparedness for nuclear accidents in a multidisciplinary way, which is particularly relevant for the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant after the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes. This presentation will discuss strategies to protect students from radiation in case of a future nuclear accident.
Mobile Home Parks and Disaster Recovery: Understanding Risk to America’s Third Housing Type
Research on affordable housing and disasters in the United States largely focuses on owned and rented housing, the nation’s two most common housing tenures. Researchers have largely overlooked mobile home parks, a third housing type that is home to 2.7 million households. Mobile home parks (MHPs) are characterized by their private ownership, stigmatization in popular culture, and by local governance institutions and unique tenure arrangement, in which residents own their individual homes but rent the land underneath. Existing studies have largely overlooked these unique characteristics of mobile home parks and remained focused on the physical vulnerability of mobile home units and, to a lesser extent, the sociodemographic characteristics of residents. The interactions between mobile home parks and the environmental, social, and regulatory contexts of disasters remain largely unexplored. In this paper we present an explanatory case study of the 2013 Colorado Flood. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, we uncover five mechanisms of exposure and vulnerability that together describe how mobile home parks and their residents were uniquely at-risk to the disaster. We find that: mobile home parks were exposed to flooding at a higher rate than housing generally; mobile home parks spatially concentrated socially vulnerable households; mobile home parks and their residents were stigmatized by local governance before and after the disaster; post-disaster regulatory exposure was a barrier to recovery; and post-disaster recovery policies and plans disadvantaged mobile home parks and their residents. We conclude by describing several avenues for future research.
Convergence Research to Redesign the Building Code for Sustained Community Functionality
This presentation is motivated by the current momentum concentrated on transitioning out of a resistance-based strategy to one that provides community resilience through holistic integration of the technical, organizational, social, and economic systems imperative to a community’s functionality. Current engineering codes and standards governing infrastructure design and engineering practice in the United States rarely consider social and economic systems and impacts caused by infrastructure disruptions. These documents are well-established, and built on significant longstanding research and experience. In the United States since the 1950’s, the code-based goal for building and infrastructure system design is to provide functionality during routine conditions and to maintain occupant safety during disasters. Code-based designs have been largely successful in this regard. However, the 16 billion-dollar, weather-related events of 2017 were responsible for at least 362 deaths and $300 billion in direct losses in the United States. These numbers become even more alarming when considering that non-climate related disasters such as earthquakes are not included, and that direct losses underestimate actual total losses, which altogether indicate that a change to the current approach is profoundly needed. An interdisciplinary community-based approach is designed, and shared here, to account for the way building infrastructure supports the social and economic systems in a community, and how goods and services, occupancy, and relative importance change across the disaster timeline and the significance of accounting for this change during the designing stage.
Socioeconomic Vulnerabilities and Informal Reconstruction in Post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has been engaging in a long and complex housing reconstruction process since Hurricane Maria destroyed the island in September 2017. Although this event caused widespread loss, previous studies have found that households with a relatively high level of socioeconomic vulnerability have a more difficult time accessing resources for reconstruction. The reconstruction process in Puerto Rico was further complicated by the large presence of informal housing and construction before Hurricane Maria, disproportionately affecting groups with higher socioeconomic vulnerability. Therefore, in the process of reconstructing their homes, many families have relied on informal reconstruction, such as working without a contractor or building permits, to maintain their path to recovery. Previous literature has shown hazards affect housing reconstruction differently based on socioeconomic vulnerability; however, the literature is limited in the context of informal housing reconstruction. This study questions whether there is a relationship between socioeconomic vulnerability indicators and evidence of informal housing reconstruction. Data collection includes surveys (n=305) in two rural municipalities of Puerto Rico, with questions aiming to capture the percentage of reconstruction that could be categorized as informal, and socioeconomic indicators, such as annual income, gender, education level, and nationality. Data analysis includes multiple linear regression and finds that the most prominent indicators for predicting informal reconstruction are annual income and age when controlled for employment status. Implications include a clearer understanding of access to reconstruction based on socioeconomic factors and bring us closer to predicting which groups have been successful or unsuccessful in rebuilding.
Exploring Disaster Linguicism: Linguistic Minorities in the 2010–2011 Canterbury and Tohoku Disasters
Language is a means of communication, but it functions as much more than this in our social lives. In emergencies and disasters, it can also be a matter of life and death. Language barriers and effective communication in disaster contexts are the central concern in current disaster research, practice, and policy, because distributing critical disaster information and warnings in a timely and accurate manner is critical. However, based on the data drawn from qualitative interviews with linguistic minority immigrants and refugees in Canterbury, New Zealand, and Tohoku, Japan, I argue that linguistic minorities confront unique disaster vulnerability partly due to linguicism—language-based discrimination at multiple levels. As linguicism is often compounded by racism, it is not properly addressed and analyzed through the framework of language ideology and power. This paper therefore introduces and conceptualizes the concept of disaster linguicism, employing Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic violence, to explore linguistic minorities’ complex disaster experiences in the 2010–2011 Canterbury and Tohoku disasters.
Resilience is Rawlsian: Toward a Just Recovery
The ecological concept of resilience describes how a system or community responds to a disruption. Thus, it is an inherently community-level concept, and implicitly emphasizes recovery from a crisis or disaster. Yet, the literature offers little in the way of a theoretical framework for understanding how public policy efforts and investments help or hinder the development of resilience within a community. This work offers such a framework. By applying different theories of justice—utilitarian, equal shares, egalitarian, and Rawlsian—to the distribution of resources during a recovery period, this work moves the discussion toward a consideration of whether and how common polices and approaches are contributing to or undermining community resilience. A Rawlsian approach emphasizes the reduction of disparities between the least vulnerable and most vulnerable populations within a community. It suggests the need for a community standard of resilience, or a common understanding of a baseline for resilience below which community members would not be expected to recover without substantial assistance. Communities that have adopted or are considering such standards are introduced.
Observations of an Academic Practitioner
This presentation will discuss observed differences between academic and practitioner communities from the perspective of an academic practitioner. As a PhD student, an adjunct faculty member, and a Federal Emergency Management Agency employee, my experience of watching various communities and cultures interact has been illuminating. Sharing these experiences and dissecting what works—and what doesn’t—is meant to increase awareness toward more meaningful and productive relationships.
Documenting the Undocumented Story: The Long-Term Housing Recovery of Mexican-Origin Immigrants After Hurricane Harvey
Much of the current disaster literature adopts a social vulnerability perspective, which considers how political, social, and economic factors influence post-disaster recovery. Research suggests that Latino populations are especially vulnerable to disasters given structural constraints that affect their access to public assistance and relief aid. In particular, foreign-born Hispanics have been shown to face challenges because of lower socioeconomic status (SES), lower levels of English-language proficiency, and unclear legal status. Moreover, while housing recovery is a major issue in all communities, temporary or permanent displacement most significantly impacts low-income, minority families. These populations are more likely to experience post-disaster housing instability because of their status as renters, and segregation in the housing market. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey dropped an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Houston, Texas, leading to catastrophic flooding. Just one year after Harvey, journalists reported that low-income neighborhoods, predominantly Hispanic, were already lagging behind in the recovery. Additionally, many undocumented immigrants faced significant housing damages after Harvey but were less likely than residents born in the United States to have homeowner’s or flood insurance or to apply for financial assistance. As such, I plan to conduct semi-structured interviews with service providers from active organizations in Houston that assist Mexican-origin immigrant populations with post-disaster housing recovery over the summer of 2019. Interviews with service providers will help address the following research questions: How are service providers helping the population navigate housing recovery policy and programs? What actions is the community taking to move forward with their recovery despite these challenges?
Evaluating the ShakeOut Drill in Aotearoa, New Zealand: Effects on Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior
Earthquakes pose a significant risk to Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ), where the majority of injuries and fatalities occur during shaking. These negative outcomes can be reduced by teaching the protective actions, “Drop, Cover, and Hold.” The ShakeOut earthquake drill, developed in the United States in 2008 to encourage practice of these protective actions, has been run nationwide in NZ three times, in 2012, 2015, and 2018. Here we report an evaluation of the 2012 and 2015 ShakeOut drills. Much previous research focuses on logistics of the drill, such as participation rates and difficulties of coordination. In contrast, this study presents findings from a national, quantitative survey, which demonstrated that the ShakeOut drill increases knowledge of correct protective actions, use of those actions during actual earthquake shaking, and additional preparedness actions, as well as decreasing key biases, such as fatalism and unrealistic optimism. Limitations of the method are discussed; however, in line with calls for more thorough evaluation of the behavioral and cognitive impacts of the drill, this research represents important preliminary evidence for meaningful benefits of employing ShakeOut.
State Coastal Management Programs Under the Coastal Zone Management Act: When do Local Plans and Ordinances Matter?
A mixed-methods study is being conducted to analyze how coastal management programs across the United States implement federal consistency review by assessing federally-approved, enforceable policies by policy type and category within a hazards and environment context. A qualitative content analysis of 35 federally-approved lists that identified the federal activities programs opt to review for federal consistency was conducted. Further, case studies of 13 programs were conducted to explore the structure of the respective state federal consistency programs. Six states were identified to adopt local plans and regulations as part of their state enforceable policies framework. Ten states were found to not use local policies but did utilize the adoption and implementation of local coastal programs or local program delegation. A qualitative content analysis was carried out of 82 coastal program documents, representing 23 coastal programs, the type and scale of policies used for federal consistency review implementation, and the extent that programs use hazards- and environmental protection-focused enforceable policies. Results indicate that federal consistency reviews vary widely across coastal management areas by federally-approved review lists and the content and structure of enforceable policies. This study adds to a thin literature portfolio on the intersections of hazard mitigation, local land use planning, coastal management, and federal consistency, and offers descriptive analysis to show how coastal management can implement federal consistency to increase community resilience and what role local land use planning may or may not play in that. Further research is needed to better understand these interconnections and how they are implemented.
The Role of Memory in the Response to Tropical Cyclones in Mauritius in the Longue Durée
Tropical cyclones are a considerable threat to the people, economy, and environment of Mauritius, with intense cyclones having an approximate return interval between 8 to 15 years. The strength of cyclones is expected to increase with climate change, and recent hydro-meteorological disasters have already been (incorrectly) attributed by various sources to climate change. However, the available digitalized instrumental record is relatively short, and there is little known about community experience and memory of cyclones, either from a current or historical standpoint. Critically, while community awareness of environmental risk is shown to be present in Mauritius and key to the capacity to respond, the levels and distribution of this knowledge is almost entirely unknown. In order to adequately understand community response to cyclones, this research suggests that it is essential to first understand the longue durée, because the prerequisites and conditions for any so called “natural” disaster trace their origins far into the distance in both time and space. This research deployed a combination of interviews and archive research in Mauritius to illustrate the past experience and impact of tropical cyclones and the long-term patterns of social and cultural learning from disasters. This included developing an improved chronology and database of cyclones in Mauritius from 1615 to present. The results present compelling evidence of cycles and trajectories of vulnerability in Mauritius over time, which are currently under researched and accounted for in disaster risk reduction policy.
Researcher-Practitioner Collaboration: Means or Ends?
This presentation argues that researcher-practitioner collaboration should be both means and ends. Therefore, the process of collaboration is as equally important as are the results of collaboration. I plan to examine challenges (and benefits) encountered by early-career scholars drawing upon firsthand experience. I also intend to explore pathways to a viable and sustained collaborative relationship for achieving and optimizing collaboration between researchers and practitioners. I provide personal insights and invite attendees to share their perspectives on these topics.
Local Residents’ Responses to the 2018 Indonesia Earthquake and Tsunami: Findings from a Disaster Reconnaissance Trip
The objective of this research abstract is present and share a National Science Foundation-Funded Rapid Response Research (RAPID) project: Local Residents’ Responses to the 2018 Indonesia Earthquake and Tsunami. The goal of this RAPID project is to use the Protective Action Decision Model as a guide to collect empirical data on people’s behavioral responses to the Palu, Indonesia earthquake and tsunami. Specifically, this project will address several major research objectives:
• Collect data on the amount of time it took officials to decide to issue tsunami evacuation warnings;
• Collect data on tsunami warning sources, channels, messages, and warning dissemination times. This will include data on people’s ability to recognize earthquake shaking as an environmental cue to tsunami onset;
• Collect data on people’s evacuation participation rates (versus sheltering in place), preparation times, and departure times;
• Collect data on people’s evacuation logistics (e.g., route choices, destination and accommodations choices, evacuation durations, and evacuation costs);
• Assess the ability of physical, social, and household contexts; social and environmental cues; socially-transmitted warnings; demographic characteristics; prior experience; and cultural background to predict warning receipt, risk perception/personalization, evacuation decisions, and evacuation departure times.
The authors have ensured close local collaboration and organized a field trip to Palu from April 8–14, 2019, and collected 503 samples of household responses from affected people. This presentation will share the reconnaissance trip and findings.
Challenges Associated with Multi-Hazard Characterization of Landfalling Hurricanes
As hurricane characteristics evolve due to climate-related factors, it is of paramount importance to accurately measure acute event-based hurricane-related hazards, and their interaction with the antecedent and subsequent geophysical environment, to inform climate adaptation strategies. Unfortunately, post-windstorm analysis of hurricane disasters in 2017 and 2018 have reaffirmed the existence of significant gaps in our ability to adequately measure surface level wind speeds and extreme rainfall in landfalling hurricanes—two physical parameters that cause significant loss of life and property in these events. Underpinning these measurement science deficiencies are low spatial and temporal resolutions of ground-based environmental observations, and frequent failure of the instrumentation needed to collect hurricane hazard data. Accordingly, there is a critical need to improve current measurement science practices in landfalling hurricanes, given that their temporal evolution, variation in intensity, and historical context are important for objectively quantifying both the primary hazards and their secondary perils in efforts to refine understanding of their societal impacts. The discussion will outline the wind and rainfall measurement issues associated with Hurricanes Michael and Maria, and the implications for exploring multi-hazard characterization research questions in the context of climate variability and change as part of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.
Neighborhood Organizations and the Repopulation of New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina
We used a large (n=7,000) survey of the population of New Orleans to show that collective resources aided in repopulation after Hurricane Katrina, net of damage and demographic factors. Neighborhood repopulation was measured by quarterly data from the United States Postal Service, by census tract, from the storm to 2012. The present paper extends this analysis by adding a survey of neighborhood association presidents in New Orleans (n=67) that asks about their strategies and resources for recovery, including mobilizing residents, acquiring and employing resources, organizational structure, and cooperation with other neighborhood organizations and authorities. We examine whether organizational strategy, structure, and actions aid recovery, net of other factors. Initial bivariate analysis suggests that neighborhood organizations that mobilized resident turnout to their meetings, encouraged citizen participation, and encouraged local business recovery experienced stronger repopulation in their neighborhoods. These effects appear to weaken as recovery proceeds, as certain disaster theories predict. We will test these associations in multivariate analyses to see if they still have effects when damage, demographic factors, and civic engagement are taken into account.
What Can We Learn About Earthquake Resilience Norms in the San Francisco Bay Area from Community Engagement with the HayWired Scenario?
The HayWired earthquake scenario, led by the U.S. Geological Survey, anticipates the impacts of a hypothetical magnitude 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault in the San Francisco Bay Area. It details the hazards, such as ground shaking; infrastructure damages and service disruptions, such as interrupted water supply; and social and economic consequences, such as population displacement. The HayWired scenario exemplifies convergent research across earth science, engineering, and social science disciplines. Collaborators are from all levels of government, universities, nonprofits, and the private sector. The communication of HayWired also converges in a coalition of partners that engage with scenario developers to facilitate community engagement and exercise support. In thinking about resilience norms: How does HayWired convergence break past resilience norms? In what ways do HayWired scenario analyses speak to resilience norms? Drawing from stakeholder engagements, how is the scenario informing or changing acceptable risk? What can we learn about research needs from future efforts like HayWired to inform or better understand resilience norms?
Damage Assessment and Modeling for a Hurricane Harvey-Impacted Community with Emerging Remote Sensing and Data Science Tools
In this study, a combination of mobile data collection and new damage assessment methods with spatial analysis and machine learning algorithms were used to correlate structural characteristics with damage and iterate upon damage assessment protocols for further development. More specifically, data were collected using a mobile scanning vehicle, which reduced volunteer exposure to the harsh post-disaster environment and collected high volumes of panoramic and light detection and ranging imagery in a relatively short period of time. This new data collection method was deployed in Texas during Hurricane Harvey. Among many datasets collected using this method, the dataset in this study consisted of almost purely wind-caused damage from Hurricane Harvey to 553 homes in southeastern Texas. A damage assessment methodology was created, combining lessons learned and protocols from previous studies, to increase efficiency and include more external public sources of data for better damage analysis. Statistical analysis was combined with spatial analysis, revealing structural components that can be expected to reduce or increase damage from single-hazard wind damage. Spatial analysis indicated that damage rating was related to peak wind speed, and explanatory regression revealed that the most significant variables to classification were: age, latitude, metal roofs, distance to coast, total area, asphalt roofs, wood siding, stucco siding, two story buildings, and building value.
Behavioral Adaption in Response to Infrastructure Disruptions During Hurricane Irma
How did households adapt their activity-related behaviors in the face of infrastructure disruptions, such as power outages and transport closings, during Hurricane Irma in 2017? How did the nature of information about infrastructure disruptions and the way in which individuals process this information shape responses to disruptions and preferred trade-offs? Using survey data from Miami residents, this paper aims to understand the adaptive behavior of individuals to disruptive events. Results will help local public officials coordinate transportation and power recovery strategies from disasters. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to capture the experiences of 1,341 Miami area residents during the week of September 4, 2017. Survey questions focused on storm damage, power loss, workplace changes, school closures, evacuation, travel choices, and preferences for urban system recovery, as well as socio-demographic background. Particularly, we employed choice experiments to examine the relative preferences or priorities for recovery from different subsystem failures due to Hurricane Irma. These include power, grocery stores, transport, work, and school. Employing a conditional logit model, we find that residents place the highest priority for recovery on power recovery, more than twice the weight on reopening grocery stories, and six times the weight on recovering transport. Reopening workplaces and schools represent the fourth and fifth highest priorities. We also investigate how respondent characteristics, such as income, age, work status, evacuation status, vehicle ownership, caregiving status, and single-parent status, influence preference trade-offs.
Virtual Reality for Disaster Resilience: Transdisciplinarity, Disasters, and the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Asia
How can we best understand the elements of vulnerability and resilience in communities exposed to environmental risk? Following the unprecedented 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, United Nations (UN) organizations, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and academics began viewing disasters differently. During the chaos of the response and recovery in Indonesia’s Aceh province, UN officials and academics recognized the need to work across organizations/disciplines to address complexities that siloed perspectives simply could not handle. This interdisciplinary approach is the core of a liberal arts and sciences education. Yale-NUS College is the first university of its kind in Asia, with 1,000 students from over 70 countries who take a common curriculum before choosing their major. Both faculty and students benefit from this radical approach in a region where students are usually tracked into careers as early as high school. Virtual Reality for Disaster Resilience (VR4DR) takes a transdisciplinary approach to understanding disasters—a geoscientist works with an artist, photojournalist, computer graphics professional, NGOs, and communities in areas exposed to environmental hazards. Using drone maps and 360-degree video, we collect narratives from community leaders and integrate them into a three-dimensional gaming environment where the viewer interacts with the landscape and stories. This approach requires a scientist who understands hazards to work with artists who are experts in visual communication, as well as coders who have the necessary skills to implement ideas on an appropriate technological platform.
Are We Improving? Neighborhood Quality of Housing Choice Voucher Recipients in Houston, Texas After Hurricane Harvey
This study examines the neighborhood outcome and quality of Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) recipients in Houston, Texas, before and after Hurricane Harvey. The purpose of this work is to discover whether neighborhood quality improved for HCV recipients after Hurricane Harvey. The study revealed where HCV recipients found residence after navigating the housing market, characteristics of the new neighborhoods, amenities, and services within proximity, and how those results compare to recipients’ previous residences. Neighborhood quality was distinguished by an overall culmination of factors, including poverty rate, educational attainment, resources and amenities, floodplain location, and social vulnerability. Resources and amenities used in this study include libraries, schools, hospitals, parks, and community centers. The results show that in comparison to original residences, HCV recipients are accessing areas of low poverty and high education attainment; however, resources and amenities are further away. Ultimately, HCV recipients were accessing higher quality neighborhoods, but distance and accessibility to resources and amenities were trade-offs. A description of future research to be conducted on this topic will be outlined.
Group Loyalty in Fire Evacuation
Does group loyalty break down in an emergency? When? The Station nightclub fire of 2003 has been modeled extensively because of a large and extensive dataset. Models of the Station fire, from both engineering and disaster science, showed dramatic differences from the dataset when it was assumed that people noticed a problem immediately or that they acted in a perfectly rational manner. Because evacuation was not rational but the results of that evacuation pointed to group ties as an important factor, this agent-based model is built around the idea of prevailing group loyalty as the norm. The model is built around individual priorities, and those priorities are in line with affiliative behavior patterns unless under extreme stress from environmental hazards. The degree of extreme stress required for abandonment of the group as a priority varies by level of group intimacy. Results support this model as more accurate than models which do not incorporate group loyalty.
Making Room for the River: Applying a Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard to a Network of Plans in Nijmegen, Netherlands
This paper presents an analysis of plan integration for flood resilience in the city of Nijmegen, Netherlands, the site of the largest “Room for the River” project in the country. It builds on the U.S.-based Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard methodology, which analyses the consistency and effect of networks of plans on community vulnerability. We expand the scope to include environmental vulnerability and test it with a global leader in innovative flood protection. Using a three-phased evaluation process, we demonstrate that "Room for the River" policies are well-integrated in Nijmegen’s network of plans, particularly with respect to flood safety and natural protection. However, policies at different administrative scales lack consistency; in some places, several socially vulnerable neighborhoods receive comparatively little policy attention, and local plans often prioritize development over flood resilience, though higher-tier plans sometimes compensate for these policy gaps. Flood resilience is still finding its way into the Dutch planning system. The Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard offers planning practitioners a new method to assess how networks of plans influence community vulnerability, and to determine the degree to which plans target the most physically, socially, and environmentally vulnerable geographic areas. In this case, it can be used to support the “Room for the River” program goal of aligning with local development priorities while expanding the floodplain to reduce flood risk at the national scale.
The Role of Chain Tourism in Hurricane Harvey Recovery
Post-disaster research relating to tourism tends to focus on broad economic measures that can miss local-scale actors and contemporaneous impressions by tourists and tourism-based business owners in places undergoing recovery from a disaster. Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, swept across coastal Texas in August 2017. Many of the communities affected by Harvey have economies largely based on family recreation. Interviews in Rockport-Fulton, Texas with tourism-oriented business owners, staff, and tourists during the Independence Day holiday provide qualitatively-robust accounts of the community’s first major summer event following Harvey and highlight the importance of social networks and place attachment to bringing tourists to the recovering area. Identifying the concept of chain tourism, we examine the role of these individuals in the recovery of impacted locations and consider strategies to draw on these social networks to increase the number of tourists visiting communities in recovery.
Understanding Multi-Sector Stakeholder Values in Hurricane Michael to Facilitate Disaster Resilient Communities
Disaster resilience involves complex decision-making processes characterized by constant negotiation, competition, and cooperation among stakeholders from public, private, and nonprofit sectors and at-risk communities. At the core of these processes are stakeholders’ values: the things that are of importance to them (e.g., safety, profit, electability). The differences in multi-sector stakeholder values are a central cause of conflicts and disputes when trying to implement disaster resilience strategies. These conflicts could not only lead to delays in resilience-focused decision-making processes and investments, but could also cost millions of dollars in future disaster losses. There is, thus, a need for more in-depth understanding of multi-sector stakeholder values to facilitate disaster resilient community development. To address this need, this presentation focuses on identifying and understanding stakeholder values toward resilient communities in the context of Hurricane Michael. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to understand what public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders value in different phases of Hurricane Michael. Ten stakeholder values were identified through the interviews, including safety, resource efficiency, natural resource preservation, culture preservation, community growth, community adaptability, community cohesion, social welfare improvement, personal achievement, and business development. This study advances knowledge in the disaster resilience domain by empirically discovering stakeholder values in the context of different disaster phases. Such knowledge will help practitioners implement disaster resilience strategies in a way that accounts for diverse stakeholder values and priorities, thus facilitating the development of human-centered resilient communities.
Real-Time Urban Flood Detection with TensorFlow
Urban flooding is difficult to monitor because traditional satellite imaging is limited in resolution and scanning period, and the sensor network is sparsely distributed and located at a limited number of fixed locations near waterways or coastlines. Emerging Twitter-based flood detection could potentially address this issue with wide and continuous coverage, but the noise and bias are inherently large such that the reliability of the flood detection, especially using Natural Language Processing, is compromised. We developed a TensorFlow-based automatic urban flood detection scheme that can be used for real-time flood monitoring. Using the mobile phone app MyCoast, we collected over 4,000 photos, each labeled using Global Positioning System and time information. After a supervised training, we could apply the deep learning algorithms of TensorFlow to detect the flood scenes from the photos. The detection accuracy with various classifiers will be reported in the presentation, and an ongoing study to apply the scheme to video is being explored.
Toward the Development of Nationwide Probabilistic Flood Depth Data
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazus Program is responsible for providing state-of-the-art methodologies for estimating losses due to floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. There is a significant gap in our ability to quantify and communicate flood risk across the United States, driven by the lack of continuous and sufficiently detailed probabilistic flood depth data. While authoritative agencies, such as the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have taken responsibility for the measurement and dissemination of earthquake and hurricane hazard data, efforts to collect, measure, and store flood hazard information remain distributed across siloed groups. FEMA’s Hazus and RiskMAP programs are fostering collaboration with hydrology experts from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to fill this gap in nationwide flood hazard data. We are completing a feasibility study for the development of nationwide probabilistic (i.e., multiple return periods) depth grids using an extreme flood event model developed by PNNL using two-dimensional hydrodynamics. To establish the accuracy of this approach, flood loss estimates derived from PNNL depth grids in Minot, North Dakota, will be compared with estimates derived from depth grids produced by Hazus and FEMA engineering studies. If sufficiently accurate depth grids and flood loss estimates can be produced using PNNL and Hazus methodologies for Minot, this approach can begin to be expanded nationwide using best practice guidance from this feasibility study.