Contracts and Grants

Below are descriptions of recently awarded contracts and grants for the study of hazards and disasters. An inventory of contracts and grants awarded from 1995 to the present (primarily those funded by the National Science Foundation) is available from the Natural Hazards Center’s web site:

Toward Improved Understanding of Warnings for Short-Fuse Weather Events. Funding: National Science Foundation, $422,951, 36 months. Principal Investigators: Eve Gruntfest and Charles Benight, Department of Geography, CoH 2021, University of Colorado–Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO 80933; e-mail:
Modern infrastructures have a high degree of interdependency that makes them more vulnerable to human-caused disasters such as acts of terrorism. In assessing the vulnerability of a particular structure or system, it is important to analyze its influence on other infrastructures. The goal of this project is to develop a model capable of describing the risks inherent in our nation’s critical infrastructures. It will establish the theoretical bases under-lying the concept of risk interoperability in a system of interconnected structures, develop a risk model to address geographical and functional decomposition of a system of infrastructures, study the dynamics of disturbance, and provide a risk model to the electric power infrastructure.

Input-Output Risk Model of Critical Infrastructure Systems. Funding: National Science Foundation, $467,750, 36 months. Principal Investigators: Yacov Y. Haimes, Wei Li, James H. Lambert, and Barry M. Horowitz, Olson Hall, Room 112a, Engineering Systems/Information Engineering Department, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904; e-mail:
The meteorological and hydrological sciences have shown dramatic improvements in warning lead times, long-term model accuracy, and integrated real-time monitoring for short fuse weather events. Nevertheless, the social science research necessary to translate this new knowledge into improved responses to events is missing. A team of geographers and psychologists will work with forecasters and emergency managers in two case studies of Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado. Both are cities with high growth rates, substantial diversity, and significant disaster potential. Researchers will study public and private sources of warning information, examine how changing demography influences public responses to warnings, evaluate the use of new technologies for warnings, assess the construct of "false alarms," and evaluate the use of social cognitive theory in understanding how people respond to warnings.

An Integrated Study of Post-Flood Hydrology, Ecology, Politics, and Policy Change: A Cross-National, Urban Perspective. Funding: National Science Foundation, $29,970, 12 months. Principal Investigators: Binayak P. Mohanty and Eric Lindquist, 301 C Scoates Hall, Wisenbaker Engineering Research Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.
Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes have impacts far beyond their physical damage. The political impacts of disasters can be immediate, such as the need for federal disaster relief aid, or long-term, as in changes to long-standing land-use regulations. As a result of Tropical Storm Alison, Houston suffered over $5 billion in damages. Recently, the German city of Dresden and the Czech Republic city of Prague experienced similar disasters with losses in the billions of dollars. The similarity of these events provides an opportunity to understand how events such as urban flooding develop and propagate across scales and influence decision processes regarding physical infrastructure and subsequent changes in policy on an international level.

Experiences of Communities Employing a "No Adverse Impact" Approach to Floodplain Management. Funding: Public Entity Risk Institute, 12 months. Principal Investigator: Association of State Floodplain Managers, 4233 West Beltline Highway, Madison, WI 53711; (608) 274-0123; fax: (608) 274-0696; e-mail:
Current floodplain management standards allow for floodwater to be diverted into other areas, essential floodwater storage area to be filled, and other development activities conducted with little or no regard as to how they impact others in the floodplain and watershed. The net result is increasing damage potential in the nation’s floodplains−a course that is not equitable to those whose property is impacted and that is not economically sustainable. "No Adverse Impact" floodplain management ensures that the action of one property owner does not adversely impact another. This project will examine case studies of jurisdictions that have adopted "No Adverse Impact" management criteria and have identified acceptable levels of impact, appropriate measures to mitigate those adverse impacts, and a plan for implementation.

A Design/Test Environment with Integrated Experimental and Computational Simulation of Unsteady Wind Loads for Mitigation of Wind-Related Natural Hazards. Funding: National Science Foundation, $490,956, 60 months. Principal Investigator: Frederick L. Haan, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, 2271 Hoew Hall, #1200, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-2271; e-mail:
Research and education activities in this project pursue the mitigation of wind-related natural hazards−the most costly natural hazards faced by the U.S. The primary objective is to establish a design and testing environment in which a diverse collection of participants can learn, design, and test new concepts in wind-resistant design. Computational simulation tools will be developed, and, as designs are tested, the models and other tools will be validated and improved. The project will facilitate interaction among researchers, students, and industry for constructing new concepts in wind-resistant design.

EMAP to Look at Accreditation

Across the country, state and local emergency managers and emergency management programs play a crucial and vital role in preparedness. They are often the sole entities responsible for planning and coordinating disaster mitigation and recovery. State level emergency response personnel work to create safer communities and reduce disaster-related losses to residents, businesses, and key infrastructure. However, agency titles and responsibilities vary greatly from state to state, as do their administrative structures and where they are housed. Aside from professional organizations and affiliations, there are no consistent standards or processes with which emergency management agencies can demonstrate compliance in their work.

In recognition of this and the important work occurring at the state level, a dozen national organizations joined together in 1997 to create an accreditation process for state-level emergency management programs – the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). Organizations that collaborated on creating the EMAP standard include the National Emergency Management Association, International Association of Emergency Managers, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Institute for Business and Home Safety, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of Counties, National Association of Development Organizations, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors Association, National League of Cities, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EMAP provides a voluntary accreditation process for state, territorial, and local programs that are responsible for preparing for and responding to disasters, with the goal of fostering improved and consistent emergency management program capabilities. Adopting EMAP standards will strengthen community capabilities in responding to all types of hazards, from tornadoes and earthquakes to school violence and bioterrorism. States that are applying for accreditation conduct a self-assessment that includes gathering internal documentation. An EMAP team then visits the jurisdiction to take a more in-depth look at individual protocols and practice.

EMAP has joined with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct a baseline assessment of all state and territorial emergency management programs that will include a self assessment, on-site assessment, and feedback on the accreditation process and benefits. Training modules and information about the EMAP standard are available from Emily DeMers, EMAP, P.O. Box 11910, Lexington, KY 40578; (859) 244-8210; e-mail:;

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