Poster Session Abstracts

Maren Aase, University of Oslo

Disaster Deaths Approached from “Below:” What Can We Learn from Those Who Did—and Those Who Did Not—Live to Tell?

Despite its massive destruction, Cyclone Sidr, which hit Bangladesh November 15, 2007, became famous for its relatively low death toll. Previous cyclones of similar levels and intensity have had mortality rates ten to fifty times as high. What explains these results? To what extent are they robust? This poster addresses the “success story” of Bangladesh’s track record in reducing disaster deaths through a comparative assessment of: (1) death toll interpretations by government and donors; (2) explanations by recent research; and (3) supplementary local factors identified in the project’s data material. The data come from interviews with disaster survivors and from official deaths lists obtained through local institutions, all within three selected affected districts.

While this research finds the success story convincing, it also lends support to current research questioning the extent to which relevant success factors and their relative weight have been adequately exposed. As a success theory, the story is rather anecdotal and unacquainted with local factors influencing chances of survival.

As a result, critical success factors are too often lost in identification, translation, implementation and/or post-disaster adaptation. This study exemplifies some of these opportunities lost. Patterns from the death list analysis indicate that children are most at risk. Detailed profiles of the victims are to a large extent missing, however, making it hard to draw many solid conclusions and highlighting the critical need for improved systems for death registration.

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Evelio Astray-Caneda, Florida International University

Variation in Hazard Mitigation Element Quality in Coastal County CDMPs

Variation in quality of hazard mitigation elements in county-level comprehensive plans in a coastal, hazard prone state, is examined. Florida was selected because it has a strong mandate for local plans to include hazard mitigation sections, which may drive uniform quality in hazard mitigation elements.

This research focuses on Florida’s 35 coastal counties, which are all at risk for hurricane and flood hazards. Research methods include document review to rate the hazard mitigation elements of all 35 coastal county plans and subsequent analysis against demographic and hazard history factors. Results show that hazard mitigation element quality varied widely among the 35 Florida coastal counties, but were close to a normal distribution. No plans were of exceptionally high quality. Overall, historical hazard effects did not correlate with hazard mitigation element quality, but some demographic variables that are associated with urban populations did.

The variance in hazard mitigation element quality indicates that while state law may mandate, and even prescribe, hazard mitigation in local comprehensive plans, not all plans will have equal—or even adequate—protection for populations.

Furthermore, there were mixed correlations between hazard mitigation element quality and demographic variables representing social and disaster vulnerability. The overall lack of correlation suggests that, at least at the county level, vulnerability to hazards does not have a strong effect on hazard mitigation element quality.

The wide variation in hazard mitigation element quality indicates that states need to consider more supportive mechanisms to foster quality hazard mitigation elements, as well as other creative options.

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Shohei Beniya, Kobe University

Lessons from the Local Governments’ Response and Continuity of Operations to the Great East Japan Earthquake in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture

There were three typical characteristics of damage to local governments in the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. One was catastrophic damage of social function at coastal areas damaged by great tsunami. The second was simultaneous multi-prefectural damage in a wide range of the east Japan area. The third was insufficiency of national governmental assistance to local governments. In this situation, resource management was one of the most important issues for devastated local governments.

Japanese local governments had made their local disaster management plans and had decided what to do, but had not considered how to do enough at the time of disasters. Many local governments did not have continuity of operations plans. At the time of the earthquake, heavily devastated local governments which lost their resources, such as facilities or human resources, had difficulty building working environments and responding to the disaster.

Therefore, they had to get a lot of unplanned support from other local governments, nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations, or private companies. This support from various organizations was very effective for the devastated local governments. For example, the Union of Kansai government, organized by prefectures in the Kansai area, made a mutual support system between damaged prefectures and support prefectures.

Central government has been reforming Japanese disaster management system based on the lessons of the quake. But some big issues—like lack of a standardized management system and a professional certification system for emergency managers—still remain.

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Eric Best, Jacksonville State University

Developing Hybrid Notification Systems for Use with Storm-Based Warnings: Evaluating Emergency Alert Sirens, Wireless Emergency Alert, and Hybrid System Capabilities

This poster compares the current and future capabilities of modern day emergency alert sirens and the Wireless Emergency Alert system in medium-density suburban Calhoun County, Alabama, related to storm-based warning polygons. Using siren location ground cover, siren propagation studies, mobile phone tower location ground cover, mobile phone service quality maps (developed for this project), building data, and census population data, it is possible to compare and contrast the reach of these emergency warning systems within a real-world environment for localized emergency test cases.

The results suggest that there are flaws in both systems, but a hybrid warning format, possible with current technology, can minimize both false negative and false positive warnings, maximizing both safety and efficiency.

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Ryan Burke, University of Delaware

Maturing Defense Support of Civil Authorities: Superstorm Sandy and the Dual Status Commander

During consequence management events like Hurricane Sandy and similar disasters or emergencies, U.S. military forces offer unparalleled response capabilities and capacities. Civil authorities often request support from the National Guard and U.S. military. Because of tensions between individual states’ interests and those of the federal government, managing and coordinating military civil support efforts continues to be challenging.

There are issues of constitutionality, legality, policy, financial considerations, and politics that influence the use of military forces in civil support scenarios. Given the complexities of coordinating a simultaneous state and federal military response, the Department of Defense, in collaboration with an appointed Council of Governors, recently adopted the dual status commander construct as the usual military command arrangement in response to a no-notice/limited notice event.

This unique coordination mechanism, which places National Guard and federal forces under a single commander, was used for the first time during the military response to Hurricane Sandy. Using process improvement techniques, this research seeks to determine ways to enhance defense support of civil authorities under the newly tested dual status commander construct.

Process improvement can provide a unique way to examine the complexities of these operations and develop a structure for improving our understanding of and ability to execute such intricate missions. This poster presents the preliminary findings of an ongoing research effort intended to develop a practical tool for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of this critical military mission capability well into the future.

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Hsien-Ho Chang, University of Delaware
Joseph Trainor, University of Delaware

Analysis of the Incident Command System (ICS)

Since its establishment in the 1980’s, many discussions have focused on the pros and cons of the ICS system. These discussions are related to the benefits and limitations of using a mechanistic system. ICS proponents like its mechanistic design elements to command and control all responders. ICS critics, however, regard ICS mechanistic elements as hurdles to managing disaster response activities, and thus they propose using more organic elements to design a new response system.

Organizational theorists say that the two types of systems are not dichotomous. It is consequently possible that the ICS has some organic design elements and thus cannot be viewed as an entire command and control system.

This research explores the degree to which ICS is organic versus mechanistic. The researcher will present his analysis of two official ICS documents and three ICS online training courses, which indicates that ICS possesses both organic and mechanistic features. Results of content analysis demonstrate the ICS has both organic and mechanistic design elements, and the choices responders made will influence how mechanistic or organic this system will be.

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Lauren Clay, University of Delaware
Mia Papas, University of Delaware
James Kendra, University of Delaware

Social Institutions: A Novel Approach to Measuring Social Capital in Communities

Social capital plays an important role in post-disaster recovery outcomes. The multidimensionality of social capital results in a complexity of measurement. Social institutions provide a unique opportunity to quantify social capital as they allow community members to interact with each other to build trust and act collectively. Census tract level business pattern data were used to construct a measure of community social institutions called the Social Institutions Index for Louisiana and Mississippi based on 2013 data.

Using a factor analytic approach, 68 social institution types were reduced into 24 distinct factors accounting for 51 percent of the variance. Eigenvalues and the scree plot were evaluated and data were reduced and rotated using varimax rotation to seven factors accounting for 23.78 percent of the variance. Factors were placed in an additive model to compute scores for quantity and diversity of social institutions at the census block group level. Spearman’s rho correlations were computed to examine quantity and diversity of social institutions and demographic characteristics.

Greater social institutional diversity was found in communities with larger populations that have been found to be at risk for increased adverse impacts following disasters, including females (0.118, p<0.000), households with children (0.064, p<0.000), and households living below the poverty line (0.129, p<0.000).

Diversity of social institutions in a community may be an important indicator of social capital in communities and may provide an opportunity to develop interventions targeting building community resilience.

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Zhen Cong, Texas Tech University
Ali Nejat, Texas Tech University
Jian Luo, Texas Tech University
Daan Liang, Texas Tech University

Family Structures, Relationships, and Relocation Decisions after Hurricane Sandy

This study examines how family bonds affect rebuilding or relocating decisions after hurricanes. Th survey sample 129 individuals recruited from Staten Island after it was seriously damaged by the 2012 Hurricane Sandy.

Multinomial logistic regression was used to investigate respondents’ family structures before Sandy and whether their relationships improved with family members after Sandy influenced their plans for rebuilding or repairing their homes, or relocating to other places. Multinomial logistic regression was also used to examine whether those factors affected respondents’ suggestions to a family vignette concerning rebuilding and relocating.

Results indicate that respondents who lived with family members before Sandy were less likely to plan for relocating than those who lived alone. More detailed examination showed that this effect was driven by those who improved on their relationships with family members. Those who did not improve on their family relationships were not significantly different from those who lived alone concerning rebuilding/relocating planning.

Those who improved on their relationships with family members were also less likely to suggest the vignette family relocate. This study supports the general hypothesis that family bonds reduce the endorsement for relocating and provides empirical evidence that family mechanisms are important for the rebuilding/relocating decision making.

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Heather Cook, HECO Public Health Consulting

Capabilities, Not Probabilities: Assessing Hazard Vulnerabilities and Resiliency within Healthcare Coalitions

As hospital preparedness programming is becoming increasingly focused on coalition building and community resilience, there is a need to examine how health facilities assess risk. Although Hazard Vulnerability Analysis is the primary tool used over the past decade to quantify threats and their impact, there is little evaluation of these metrics.

Differing from the need of individual healthcare facilities that must plan for a variety of internal and external events that are likely to occur, the primary purpose of forming local healthcare coalitions is to prepare their members for catastrophic events that would require a coordinated response.

This presentation examines the value of the current HVA calculation of Risk = Probability x (Impact-Mitigation) for coalitions from both the mathematical and conceptual perspectives. In this context, evaluating mitigation through mutual aid may be more valuable to planning and response groups. This suggests that a new tool should be developed—one that questions what variables need to be considered at the coalition level, and the value of assessing individual members’ vulnerabilities.

A new, capabilities-based tool could look at ways of measuring mitigation factors when considering the resources of the coalition as a whole. As part of this tool, it may be valuable to include: (1) resiliency and vulnerability as separate measures; (2) process and outcome oriented criteria; (3) consideration of the strength of professional and personal connections; and (4) qualitative and quantitative approaches.

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Kimberley Corwin, Boise State University
David Johnston, GNS Science
Tom Wilson, University of Cantebury
Carol Stewart, Massey University
Steve Jensen, University of California, Long Beach
John Wardman, Oregon State University
Brittany Brand, Boise State University
Sara McBride, GNS Science
Graham Leonard, GNS Science
Sally Potter, GNS Science
Bruce Houghton, University of Hawai'i

Community Understanding of Volcanic Risk in Central and Eastern Washington

Washington State lies close to an active and complex plate boundary known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. While the most significant seismic risk exists in the western part of the state, shallow crustal faulting in eastern Washington generated earthquakes of moderate magnitude in recent history, with the potential for more in the future. In addition to earthquake hazards, the Cascade Range contains a number of active volcanoes, including Mount St. Helens which erupted in 1980. Eastern Washington is also affected by wildfires, storms, and high winds on a perennial basis. The project herein aims to investigate resident perceptions of natural hazard risks in a region vulnerable to a range of natural hazards, including earthquakes and volcanic activity.

This research builds on the results of data collection in 2010, 2011, and 2012 investigating resident perceptions of natural hazard risk in eastern Washington. Data were collected in May 2014 using a structured survey at in three communities: Spokane, Yakima, and Ellensburg. Even though awareness of the likelihood of future volcanic hazard events is relatively high among respondents, this awareness failed to translate into residents understanding what volcanic impacts may mean for them and taking steps to become more prepared. Only a small proportion adopt mitigation measures beyond owning a flashlight, fire extinguisher, or first aid kit.

This research contributes to the development of a benchmark for resident perceptions of natural hazard risks in the region, as well as assessing current levels of action preparedness.

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Robin Cox, Royal Roads University
Lori Peek, Colorado State University
Jennifer Tobin-Gurley, Colorado State University
Cheryl Heykoop, Royal Roads University
Sarah Michaud, Royal Roads University

Youth Creating Disaster Recovery

Youth Creating Disaster Recovery is a participatory action research project focused on the potential of youth to act as catalysts for change following disasters. Despite often being highlighted as a potentially vulnerable population, the needs of children and youth in disaster recovery are often overlooked. They also remain an untapped resource in disaster recovery and resilience enhancement efforts.

The YCDR project is empowering disaster-affected youth to have a voice in shaping disaster recovery theory and practice through creative engagement in research. Participating youth are taking part in arts-based activities and digital storytelling to contribute their insights and ideas about how disasters affect youth, and how youth can best be supported and encouraged to contribute to their own and to others recovery.

The research findings will refine existing socioecological theories of disaster recovery and contribute to informed, inclusive, community-based approaches to understanding disaster recovery and risk reduction from the perspectives of youth. The creative stories youth share are designed to encourage peer-to-peer networking and to contribute to the development of an online repository for youth-centered creative expression following disaster.

This poster: (1) provides an overview of the YCDR project and highlights some of our ongoing research with youth in disaster-affected communities in Canada and the United States; (2) discusses preliminary findings from our first year of completed fieldwork in Joplin, Missouri and Slave Lake, Alberta; and (3) displays some of the creative photo stories developed by youth for sharing with other youth and their broader communities.

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Deserai Crow, University of Colorado, Boulder
Lydia Dixon, University of Colorado, Boulder
Elizabeth Koebele, University of Colorado, Boulder
Adrianne Kroepsch, University of Colorado, Boulder
Rebecca Schild, University of Colorado, Boulder

Risk Perceptions, Management Regimes, and Mitigation Behavior in Wildland-Urban Interface Zones: A Cross-Case Analysis

In recent years, wildfires affecting communities located in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) have grown in size and become more destructive, substantially impacting life and property across the West. Regional demographic and climate trends are working to exacerbate wildfire conditions, as the West’s human population continues to grow rapidly and drought conditions persist.

Understanding residents’ perceptions of wildfire risk and responsibility for fire mitigation on private lands, as well as wildfire management options in the WUI, is important for shaping policy and land management decisions that reduce risk to life and property. Although this is an increasingly urgent topic, little research has been conducted to investigate the nexus between residents’ wildfire mitigation behavior and the role of information in promoting knowledge about and responsibility for mitigation.

This study uses two in-depth cases of recent catastrophic wildfires in Colorado to analyze such connections. Using data from interviews with fire managers, focus groups with residents, as well as fire mitigation planning documents, this research investigates the connections between information, local management regimes, and homeowner decisions regarding property mitigation in the face of wildfire risk.

These findings indicate that fire management agencies can best encourage mitigation by local residents by supporting and incentivizing mitigation activities, disseminating risk and mitigation information through personal channels, and seizing post-fire windows of heightened community interest.

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Jacqueline Curtis, Kent State University
Andrew Curtis, Kent State University
Steve Smith, Missouri Southern State University

Geonarratives as an Approach to Understand Resident Environmental Perceptions and their Implications in Long-term Recovery: Joplin, Missouri Three Years Post-Tornado

Since the May 22, 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, spatial video surveys have been conducted at six-month intervals to investigate the spatio-temporal characteristics of recovery. Despite producing documentation of how the observable built environment has returned after the tornado, this process yields little insight into the implications of such patterns for residents.

Through collaboration between the GIS Health and Hazards Lab at Kent State University and Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, a new approach is being piloted specifically to address this problem. The geonarrative entails residents directing their own spatial video survey while providing commentary on their neighborhood, activity space, and broader environs. These geonarratives are semi-structured in design so that although participants will define where and what is meaningful, they will also be prompted to answer the following questions: (1) since the tornado, what conditions have improved? (2) since the tornado, what conditions have worsened? and (3) how do these conditions influence your daily behaviors (e.g, where you go and how you get there; use of resources)?

Geonarrative data are then analyzed through Geographic Information Systems and content analysis. Results from analysis are used to answer the following questions: (1) How have the spatial patterns of recovery impacted resident perceptions of the environment around home, activity spaces, and broader environs? (2) How have these perceptions influenced behavior?

Answers to these questions will contribute understanding of how recovery impacts residents, which can serve to inform recovery planning in advance of future disasters.

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Susan Cutter, University of South Carolina

International Centre of Excellence in Vulnerability and Resilience Metrics (ICoE-VARM)

Integrated Research on Disaster Risk is a research program co-sponsored by the International Council for Science, the International Social Science Council, and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

In support of the decade long research program, IRDR established an International Centre of Excellence on Vulnerability and Resilience Metrics at the University of South Carolina’s Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute. This leverages the expertise at HVRI in hazard vulnerability and resilience science and metrics in support of international disaster risk reduction policies and practices.

The ICoE-VARM provides leadership in improving hazard loss databases and in improving the methodological capabilities of the next generation of disaster scientists. It also provides support for existing research projects within IRDR. Presently the ICoE-VARM is engaged in the following projects:

  • The development and implementation of a peril classification system and guidebook for natural hazard losses
  • An assessment of integrated research on disaster risk
  • A survey on the state-of-the-science for the UNISDR’s Global Assessment Report along three thematic areas—incentives, transformative development, and governance.

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Christopher Emrich, University of South Carolina

Scholarship, Research, and Development at the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute

The Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute is an interdisciplinary research center focused on training the next generation of hazard scientists. HVRI facilitates local, state, and federal government efforts to improve emergency preparedness, planning, response, and disaster resilience through its outreach activities, including technical assistance to and translational products for practitioner communities.

Current HVRI projects are focused in three main areas—vulnerability and resilience indicator development; spatial data support for emergency management; and empirically-based monitoring of long-term recovery.

Specific projects include: (1) Continued support of hazard mitigation planning and hazard assessments with our Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States (SHELDUS); (2) Re-engineering of the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) to accommodate U.S. Census data collection challenges (; (3) Analyzing climate-sensitive hazards and threats to lives and livelihoods at the sub-county level in Florida; (4) Identification and analysis of forces driving hurricane recovery in New Jersey and Mississippi; (5) Pioneering baseline resilience indicator creation for counties focused on rural resilience to disaster; (6) Exploring the concept of a relative impact measure capturing the differential ability to absorb shocks across the United States; (7) Two National Science Foundation dissertation research improvement grants focusing on behaviors of mobile home residents in response to tornado threats and place recovery along the Mississippi Coast.

More information can be found at

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Elizabeth English, University of Waterloo

Amphibious Architecture: An Adaptable, Affordable, Sustainable, Retrofittable, No-Adverse-Impact, Flood-Resilient Response to Climate Change

As global climate change causes sea levels to rise and weather events to become more extreme, severe flooding will become more commonplace around the world. The large populations living in deltaic or riverine floodplain regions will be particularly severely affected, especially those at the lowest levels of income.

There is increasing awareness worldwide that traditional flood mitigation strategies that alter the environment and create concentrations of risk, such as levees, only increase the probability of catastrophic consequences in the long run. Amphibious construction is an alternative flood mitigation strategy that allows an otherwise ordinary house to float on the surface of rising floodwater. An amphibious foundation retains a home’s position close to the ground under ordinary circumstances, but the house passively floats as high as necessary when flooding occurs. Buoyancy elements beneath the house provide the flotation to lift the house, and a vertical guidance system returns the house to exactly the same place upon descent.

Amphibious architecture rests lightly on the earth and works with a flood-prone region’s natural cycles of flooding, allowing water to flow rather than creating an obstruction. Since the height to which an amphibious building rises is not fixed, but accommodates the depth of the rising water, amphibious structures have the additional benefit of taking subsidence and changing sea levels in stride.

This poster highlights existing amphibious construction and current projects under development in Louisiana, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, and the Canadian North.

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Sean Fitzhugh, University of California, Irvine
Jeannette Sutton, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Carter Butts, University of California, Irvine
Emma Spiro, University of Washington
Ben Gibson, University of California, Irvine
Cedar League, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Britta Johnson, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

HEROIC: Hazards, Emergency Response, and Online Informal Communications

The nearly continuous, informal exchange of information—including such mundane activities as gossip, rumor, and casual conversation—is a characteristic human behavior, found across societies and throughout recorded history. While often taken for granted, these natural patterns of information exchange become an important "soft infrastructure" for decentralized resource mobilization and response during emergencies, disasters, and other extreme events.

Although the potential to exploit this capacity for emergency warnings, alerts, and response is increasingly recognized by practitioners, relatively little is known about the dynamics of informal online communication in emergencies, in particular about the ways in which existing streams of information are modified by the introduction of emergency information from both official and unofficial sources.

The HEROIC project seeks to address this gap.

This project has supported several years of ongoing data collection. Our current research endeavors cover many aspects of domestic disaster events, both natural and manmade. Our recent work investigates: (1) message retransmission among official emergency response organizations; (2) variation in message content and structure across organizational sector during emergency events; (3) communication dynamics during natural hazard events; and (4) variations in hazard-related communication activity across time and space during disasters.

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Kiza Gates, U.S. Geological Survey
Kristin Ludwig, U.S. Geological Survey
Dave Applegate, U.S. Geological Survey
Gary Machlis, U.S. Geological Survey

Building Expert Rosters for Disaster Response and Recovery

Developing post-crisis response and rebuilding plans that holistically aid recovery and resilience of the coupled natural-human system requires an intimate knowledge of the system and its components. Expertise in the type of crisis, affected infrastructure, affected community, and physical/ecological setting can best be obtained by assembling specialized teams of experts.

An example of such team building comes from the Department of the Interior Strategic Sciences Group, which assembles working groups that are deployed following environmental crises. Previous deployments of the SSG include the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Hurricane Sandy. To expedite the speed and efficiency of team-building for future deployments, we conducted a review of expert roster systems in the federal, non-profit, and private sectors.

Roster systems were generally customized to meet the needs of each institution. The selection process of roster members ranged from invitation to application to broadcast solicitation. Rosters broadly fell into three categories depending on whether the pool of experts originated from within an organization, outside the organization, or a hybrid of both.

Internal rosters had the advantage of being constantly refreshed with new members, but were more limited in scope. Hybrid rosters that were started internally and then expanded outside had broad expertise representation and duplicate coverage. Professional societies also showed promise as entities that could quickly identify individuals with specific expertise and working abilities. Our review suggests that a hybrid roster which incorporates collaboration with other organizations provides the greatest adaptability and access to diverse expertise.

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Brandi Gilbert, Community Science

When You Hit the Water…It’s Kind of Like Euphoria or Somethin’: Youth and the BP Oil Spill

Spewing an estimated five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a three-month period, the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion resulted in the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. While many studies have focused on the long-term ecological, economic, and social effects of technological disasters such as the BP oil spill on adults, few have specifically investigated the impacts of such events on children.

This research explores the narratives of youth aged 12-18 in Bayou la Batre, Alabama, a community severely affected by the 2010 BP oil spill. Findings draw on 40 in-depth interviews with young people whose parents worked in commercial seafood or shipbuilding industries. Specifically, the concept of lifestyle change—the disruption of everyday routines or patterns that commonly occurs in the aftermath of disasters—is used to explore youth’s experiences in the aftermath of the BP oil spill.

This work examines the integral role that time on the Gulf of Mexico with family members and friends played in the daily lives of many youth in the study (boating, fishing, swimming, etc.). It also focuses on how such ties were disrupted following the BP oil spill. Ultimately, using a sociological lens to deepen our understanding of disaster impacts on youth, who make up nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population, provides vital insight into the societal factors that result in disparate levels of risk for marginalized groups and that shape their recovery experiences.

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June Gin, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center
Tamar Wyt-Lake, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center

Ensuring Continutity of Services for Socially Marginalized, Chronically Ill Veterans Before and After Disasters

Functional and access needs among at-risk populations present unique challenges to ensuring continuity of care in the aftermath of disasters. Many military veterans rely on providers that deliver health care and essential support services on a daily basis. When disaster strikes, these essential services may be disrupted, destabilizing the health and well-being of vulnerable populations.

These risks underscore the importance of community preparedness initiatives that enhance these organizations’ ability to address veterans’ needs during and after disasters. This poster examines the implications of disruptions in essential services for two socially vulnerable subgroups of veterans, and how organizations serving them can become prepared to ensure continuity of services post-disaster. The Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center presents two projects addressing the disaster preparedness challenges of organizations serving: (1) homeless veterans and (2) veterans who are homebound due to severe functional limitations.

Based on interviews with staff at six nonprofit homeless service organizations that support large numbers of veterans, the first study examines their barriers to disaster preparedness, and recommends strategies to ensure continuity of services in disasters.

The second study uses interviews to examine the role of home-based primary care providers in assessing disaster preparedness among homebound, elderly and socially isolated veterans, and presents targeted approaches that they can use to increase preparedness in their vulnerable patient population.

We explore ways in which disasters can disrupt essential care and support for socially vulnerable veterans, and how community partner intervention programs to mitigate the impact of disruptions can be designed, implemented, and evaluated.

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Kristen Goodrich, University of California, Irvine
Santina Contreras, University of California, Irvine
Richard Matthew, University of California, Irvine
Brett Sanders, University of California, Irvine

Flood Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Environments Project

Significant advancements have been made in hydrodynamic modeling capabilities for natural disasters like floods. In light of these, it is vital to better understand how to effectively design risk communication strategies that best utilize the outputs of these models and promote hazard preparedness and mitigation. This will increase overall community resiliency.

As a critical first step to designing effective risk communication strategies, a baseline behavioral assessment will be conducted to determine the knowledge, communication, perception, experience, and preparedness of flood risk among vulnerable communities through a household level survey. The survey will be administered at two sites in Southern California, the Newport Beach estuary and the Tijuana River estuary. The latter site straddles the U.S.-Mexico border. Both sites are vulnerable to a major flood because of their urbanized location and hydrological features.

The data from the survey and stakeholder focus groups will be paired with static maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and dynamic outputs from an advanced hydrodynamic model developed for the project to determine the impact of detailed flood knowledge on perception and behavior. These results will be used to develop “best practice” flood risk communication strategies.

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Alex Greer, University of Deleware
Sue McNeil, University of Deleware
Joseph Trainor, University of Deleware
Israt Jahan, University of Deleware

Understanding the Relationships between Household Decisions and Infrastructure Investment in Disaster Recovery: Cases from Superstorm Sandy

Due to recent catastrophes and disasters, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy, policymakers, researchers, and the media are devoting more attention to the recovery phase of disaster management—specifically whether resettlement is a better option than rebuilding in situ, and whether to invest in mitigation and repair or just repair the current transportation infrastructure.

While many have discussed these issues in passing, research devoted to household relocation and resettlement decision making is relatively sparse, and research on the impact of transportation infrastructure on these decisions is even sparser. Most scholarship in this area only tangentially relates to resettlement, or merely offers “best practice” recommendations.

The purpose of this study is to understand how households decide to either resettle in a new location or rebuild in situ following a disaster and to illuminate critical elements of those decisions that could inform planning models. This poster presents an overview of the research project, highlighting research questions addressed, case study sites, objectives, methodology, and our completion schedule.

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Sara Hamideh, Texas A&M University
Walter Peacock, Texas A&M University
Shannon Van Zandt, Texas A&M University

Disparities in Long-Term Housing Recovery: Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula, Texas after Hurricane Ike

Multiple studies have found inequalities in disaster recovery. Inequalities emerge from a common community of suffering and further exacerbate by the gains and profit from tragedy.

Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston as a strong Category 2 hurricane in September 2008 and caused some degree of damage to most of the structures. Van Zandt et al. found correlations between neighborhood social vulnerability factors and damage, response and recovery after Ike in Galveston. Our goal is to re-examine the relationship between vulnerability and recovery patterns in a long time frame with updated data.

Damage and recovery indicators in our study are based on property value changes derived from 2008 to 2012 tax appraisal data for all residential types aggregated to census block group level. We used the social vulnerability indicators suggested by Van Zandt et al. and measured them through 2005-2009 ACS five-year data. This dataset was then linked to the 2009 block groups GIS shapefile to perform spatial analysis on distribution of social vulnerability, damage and recovery.

Evaluating long-term recovery for different residential types can inform decisions from local to federal level regarding allocation of recovery assistance and requirements of housing recovery programs. Furthermore, disparities we find can be translated to alterations in local mitigation policies to target particular forms of housing and particular locations which struggle most to recover.

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Marccus Hendricks, Texas A&M
Sara Hamideh, Texas A&M
Michelle Meyer, Texas A&M
John Cooper, Texas A&M
David Bierling, Texas A&M
Shannon Van Zandt, Texas A&M
Walter Peacock, Texas A&M

Technological Versus Natural Disasters: Consequences for Early Recovery Planning and Decision-Making at the Community and Household Level

Introduction: The distinction between technological and natural disasters has been and continues to be a point of contention in the literature. Our research explored community and resident post-disaster recovery in two, small U.S. towns. Both towns experienced disasters in the spring of 2013, but one town experienced a natural disaster while the other town had a man-made disaster.

Methods: To understand how disaster recovery differs based on the type of disaster, we compared the immediate recovery periods in each town. Our study involved qualitative research including semi-structured interviews with organizational representatives and residents of each town, participant observation, and document collection and analysis. To date, we have interviewed 64 organizational representatives and 56 residents. We have also attended 27 recovery-related functions including meetings, community events, and volunteer sessions for participant observation.

Preliminary Findings: Our immediate findings suggest that within these two communities corrosiveness can occur, as a result of lack of transparency with donation distribution and recovery decision making processes. Likewise, the role of local government and non-governmental organizations in long-term recovery is critical.

Our study has revealed some interesting dynamics in terms of how these organizations within and external to affected areas organize themselves and collaborate or compete. Findings have also introduced a fascinating duality in recovery processes of those doing and those being done to. Organizations and recovery management with a giving mentality and those affected being cornered into dependency undermines opportunity for capacity building and exacerbates social distances.

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Demian Hommel, Oregon State University

Planning for a Hazards/Disaster Undergraduate Curriculum in the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS) at Oregon State University

The recent merger of geography and CEOAS at OSU prompted a need to redesign curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate level. Two primary objectives are to better integrate with the college--where scholars and researchers are working on a wide range of different hazards--and to develop a framework that employs tools and perspectives to help societies understand and respond to a dynamic planet.

Although elements of hazards/disasters research are tangentially featured in the geography program, this new plan would focus our teaching efforts in two key directions: 1) assessing risk, vulnerability and resilience, and 2) disaster response and management. This approach would allow the geography program to both utilize and assimilate the range of research in the college, and to drive efforts to understand, respond and adapt to risks.

Unfortunately, there is no standardized, widely accepted or consistent academic structure that prepares students to enter these fields. This poster is an effort to identify the current plans for a potential structure at OSU in order to gain feedback from scholars, researchers, managers and anyone else who may be able to help identify the opportunities and challenges of this approach.

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Jennifer Horney, Texas A&M
Nadja Vielot, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Can Merging the Roles of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Management Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Emergency Planning and Response?

In response to funding cuts to emergency preparedness and response, some jurisdictions have reduced workforce and reallocated responsibilities for public health preparedness and emergency management to more efficiently use resources and, hopefully, improve planning and response. Interviews were conducted in six counties in North Carolina where key informants were performing roles that covered shared responsibilities in emergency management, emergency medical services, hospital preparedness, and public health preparedness. Informants discussed perceptions of the challenges and opportunities provided by the new shared positions. Respondents felt that planning and response have improved, but that requirements related to activities or equipment that are eligible for funding, particularly through public health grant dollars, can present an impediment to consolidating public health preparedness and emergency management roles and activities. As the financial resources available for public health preparedness and emergency management continue to be reduced, the merging of the roles and responsibilities of public health preparedness and emergency management may present jurisdictions with an effective alternative to reducing staff, and potentially, readiness.

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Chi-Ying Huang, Texas A&M
Walter Peacock, Texas A&M
Shannon Van Zandt, Texas A&M

Assessing the Relationship between Social Vulnerability and Physical Vulnerability to Coastal Flooding Along the Texas Coast Using the American Community Survey (ACS) Data

There is a general assumption found in the social science and planning literature that social vulnerability is associated with physical vulnerability. Socially vulnerable populations are often residing in high hazard areas. Minorities especially suffer disproportionately from disaster impact and flood related fatalities.

This poster explores the utility of American Community Survey (ACS) data for generating social vulnerability maps and assessing the relationship between social and physical vulnerability. Since the decennial long form data after Census 2000 was replaced by the ACS, the five-year estimates provide a great opportunity to compare the results between those two datasets.

Specifically, we will examine the spatial pattern of social vulnerability in Texas coastal communities by adopting the criteria used by Van Zandt et al. from 2012. In addition, we will examine the exposure to flood risk zones, including 100- and 500-year floodplains and coastal high hazard areas using where possible the current effective National Flood Hazard Layer or the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map database for Texas coastal counties. The flood risk will be assessed based on the percentage of each block group’s area located in flood risk zones.

Finally, we will assess the relationship between various dimensions of social vulnerability and flood risk and examine variations in social vulnerability exposure for coastal and non-coastal counties for block groups throughout the coastal areas.

The findings of this research aim to help planners better understand the relationship between social and physical vulnerability and issues using ACS data for planning purposes.

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Shih-Kai Huang, Texas A&M Univertsity
Michael Lindell, Texas A&M Univertsity
Carla Prater,Texas A&M Univertsity

Statistical Review of Hurricane Evacuation in Past 25 Years

Many previous studies have identified variables predicting households’ hurricane evacuation decisions, but none of them has provided a definitive summary of the field. One important reason is the lack of a systematic meta-analysis comparing results across hurricane evacuation studies. This study used the Hunter–Schmidt method of meta-analysis to examine findings from 33 academic articles conducted since Baker’s 1991 review.

Our statistical meta-analysis examined 38 cases involving actual responses to hurricane warnings and 11 cases involving expected responses to hypothetical hurricane scenarios. The results of this meta-analysis are generally consistent with the abbreviated version of the Protective Action Decision Model in concluding that official warnings, mobile home residence, risk area residence, expectations of severe personal impacts, and observations of social and environmental cues all have consistently significant effects to households’ evacuation decisions.

These variables are slightly different from the ones that evacuees generally report as factors that significantly affected their evacuation decisions—official warnings, wind risk, and some environmental cues.

Next, the meta-analysis also identified mediator variables for households’ evacuation decisions that variables—hurricane intensity, expected service disruption, female genders, homeowners, and peers’ advices—might have some indirect effects to households’ evacuation decisions.

Finally, the results of the systematic meta-analysis also indicate that studies of actual hurricane evacuation decisions are significantly different from studies of evacuation expectations for hypothetical hurricane scenarios in their effect sizes for gender, home ownership, mobile home dwellers, official warning, intensity, and wind damage risk.

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Israt Jahan, University of Delaware
Mehedi Ansary, University of Delaware
Ishrat Islam, University of Delaware

Earthquake Preparedness in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

The infrastructure in parts of Bangladesh is already vulnerable to the point that buildings collapse even without an earthquake. Due to rapid urbanization, unplanned development, high population density, poor construction quality of infrastructures, etc., scholars are anticipating massive destruction in any future earthquakes.

These concerns led to a study of earthquake vulnerability and preparedness planning in Old Dhaka. The existence of dilapidated unreinforced masonry buildings, a narrow road network, close proximity of adjacent buildings, irregular building shapes and other issues made the locality more prone to earthquake damage.

The structural vulnerability of existing buildings was assessed using two different visual screening methods, FEMA-RVS and Turkish Simple Survey (Level-I & Level-II) Procedure. To learn about the social vulnerability of the community, a socioeconomic survey of households was also done. Finally, the study proposed a preparedness plan, including post-disaster evacuation, road widening, strengthening of vulnerable buildings, and shortest-safest path to shelter.

The study includes policy recommendations to increase public awareness, retrofit the building stocks, etc. It is expected that successful implementation of the recommendations will reduce the vulnerability of the area to earthquakes.

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Luke Juran, Virginia Tech

A Framework for Integrating Water Resources in Disaster Reconstruction Processes

Water projects triggered by disaster reconstruction processes are inherently unique and warrant a specialized approach. Thus, the objective of this poster is to guide reconstruction actors toward the establishment of more culturally and environmentally sensitive water arrangements. Water infrastructure introduced after disasters differs from ‘normal’ water infrastructure in several distinct ways: nature and needs of the subjects; expectations of recovery and rehabilitation; scale; funding and organizational structure; resettlement; and temporal constraints. Acknowledging these differences, an integrative framework is presented to more aptly manage water sector reconstruction. The framework—informed by fieldwork in post-tsunami South India, the literature, and gaps therein—seeks to minimize common project failures that have surfaced across space, time, and disaster.

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Rejina Manandhar, University of North Texas

Protective Action Adoption during the 2012 West Nile Outbreak

In 2012, the United States experienced an emerging threat due to West Nile virus. The 2012 West Nile outbreak was reported in 48 states with the North Central Texas region as the epicenter of the outbreak. West Nile virus (WNV) is a major vector-borne virus that affects birds and humans. With no specific treatment or vaccine, adopting protective action is the most effective way to protect threatened population and to control the disease.

However, the willingness and ability to adopt protective actions can be guided by other factors such as attitude towards the disease, resource availability, threat information and so forth. Hence, this poster provides an overview of protective action adoption among the populations of the North Central Texas region during the 2012 West Nile outbreak. The poster explores the role of risk perception, information, location, knowledge and demographic factors on protective action adoption.

The preliminary findings indicate that information about West Nile virus was the major factor contributing to the likelihood of adopting protective actions during the 2012 West Nile outbreak. The findings also suggest risk perception and gender to be significant predictors of protective action adoption.

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Nuno Martins, University of Delaware

Measuring Social Vulnerability to Natural Disasters with Multicriteria Analysis: The Case Study of Funchal Municipality (Madeira Island, Portugal)

The municipality of Funchal, located in Madeira Island, Portugal, has an extensive historical record of natural disasters. Since the settlement of the island in the fifteenth century, approximately 30 natural disasters have occurred there. The study of natural extreme events in Madeira, however, has mainly focused on uncovering the characteristics of the disaster agents, such as flash floods, landslides, and storm surges, while the body of knowledge regarding the social system’s vulnerability to natural hazards is still narrow.

This poster presents the conceptualization and operationalization of a GIS-based model to assess the social vulnerability to natural disasters in Funchal Municipality, at the neighborhood level, using multicriteria analysis methods and techniques. This model highlights the driving factors, patterns, and hotspots of social vulnerability in the island’s main urban and economic center.

Moderate social vulnerability values were identified. Built environment, demographic and socioeconomic traits of the social groups, and also their degree of exposure to environmental hazards are the central dimensions and factors that decisively shape the vulnerability of local populations to natural disasters. Furthermore, the differences among neighborhoods with exceptionally higher and lower scores of social vulnerability result from the dissimilarities in these dimensions across the study area. Despite the benefits of identifying the nature of social groups’ vulnerability in Funchal Municipality, this model presents the traditional weaknesses coupled with the taxonomic approaches for social vulnerability assessment, which will be addressed in this poster.

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John McClure, Victoria University of Wellington
David Johnston, GNS Science
Liv Henrich, Victoria University of Wellington

Earthquake Risk Judgments Before and After the Canterbury Earthquakes: The Contrasting Effects of Experience and Expectancy

Risk judgments about hazards are affected by both experience of the hazard and people’s expectancies of an earthquake before it occurs. Many citizens are optimistic and think they are less vulnerable to earthquakes than other people. These factors were examined after the recent (2010/2011) earthquakes in Christchurch (Canterbury), NZ. We compared earthquake likelihoods in three cities: Christchurch (where an earthquake was not expected but occurred), Wellington (where an earthquake was expected but did not occur) and Palmerston North (where an earthquake was not expected and did not occur). Participants judged the likelihood of an earthquake for their own city, for Christchurch and for the rest of New Zealand before (recall) and after the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Christchurch participants also reported their preparedness before and after the earthquake. Expectations of an earthquake in Canterbury were low before the earthquakes and rose significantly after the February 2011 earthquake. In contrast, Wellingtonians’ expectancy of an earthquake in Wellington was high both before and after the earthquakes, and Palmerston North citizens judged a local earthquake more likely after the earthquake. There was a relation between risk perceptions and preparedness. Christchurch participants who suffered damage judged a future earthquake in Christchurch no more likely than those who suffered no damage. Participants outside Christchurch with friends who suffered damage in Christchurch judged their own risk higher. These findings are discussed in relation to the effect of expectancies and experience on risk perception.

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Brian Motta, National Weather Service
Anthony Mostek, National Weather Service

NOAA/National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Ready Nation(WRN)

As part of the National Weather Service Weather Ready Nation (WRN) Initiative, a series of six pilot projects have been formed to test the concept of providing impact-based weather decision support services (IDSS) to federal, state, and local governments and partners during times of significant planned events and (human-caused or natural) disasters.

With recent threats from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, blizzards, and human-caused disasters, the NWS is experienced in providing weather support prior to, during, and after such events. Large population centers, major ports, receding and sensitive coastlines are leading to more sensitive target populations. To prepare for these increasing demands for decision support services, critical synergies are being formed amongst government agencies, private sector contributors, and public sector educational and outreach partners.

The NWS has developed emergency response specialists as part of the Weather Ready Nation Roadmap. Teams of emergency response specialists have helped to build and strengthen partnerships with emergency management, the Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the ports, and other marine partners.

Technology is a big part of the Weather Ready Nation rollout. New and advanced models for high-impact weather prediction, state-of-the-art remote sensing from satellite, radar, and lightning detection systems, team-based forecasts, and new remote access/collaborative software allow the NWS to bring experts on-site to incident command centers.

A major goal of the Weather Ready Nation is the development of an IDSS “event playbook” and the development of an impacts catalog of core partner thresholds. The NWS will develop improved IDSS-related training and exercises to expand capabilities and strengthen partnerships. The implementation of enhanced IDSS requires a significant culture change in the National Weather Service, with a greater focus on short-term forecasting, implementation of IDSS-based best practices, and provision of expert on-site support when critical decision makers need it the most. The NWS emergency response specialist teams train and prepare for enhanced deployment before, during, and after events of local, regional, and national significance in which the need exists to protect life and property.

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Muneyoshi Numada, University of Tokyo

Disaster Responses Analysis for the Integrated Disaster Management System from Experiences of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

It is important for the government to take effective measures during large-scale disasters like the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. However neither national nor municipal levels carried out effective responses or managed appropriate operations for the unexpected conditions.

This research presents a solution that classifies disaster responses with those flows to provide the total picture of disaster responses in terms of time and space. The purpose of this paper is to achieve effective initial response activities immediately after disaster strikes. The initial responses taken by the local government of Yabuki town and Ishinomaki city located in Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture, respectively, during the earthquake are analyzed in this paper.

In Japan, many municipal governments have small population: 85 percent of the municipal governments have 100,000 people or fewer under them, and 53 percent have 30,000 people or fewer. The results in this paper can facilitate the understanding of the situations faced by these small governments.

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Bhesh Raj Oli, Biodiversity Associates for Research, Development, and Action, Nepal

Climate Change and Its Impact on Non-Timber Forest Products and Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Panchase Protected Forest Area

This study undertook a consultative approach followed by scientific field verification. Consultative approaches were used to gather impressions from local communities while field visits were done to validate the information. The study was carried out to assess the impacts of climate change on non-timber forest products and medicinal and aromatic plants in the Panchase Protected Forest Area, which occupies three hilly districts of Midwestern region of Nepal.

PPFA represents an important middle mountain ecological zone. It is the corridor linkage of lowland (Chitwan) and highland Annapurna Himalaya, which is home to more than 589 flowering plants and 156 nonforest and medicinal and aromatic plants. It is known as the “kingdom of wild orchids.” An ecosystem based adaptation project is underway in PPFA of Nepal, s well as in Peru and Uganda, implemented jointly by UNDP, UNEP and IUCN, to demonstrate the resiliency of mountain ecosystems, thereby reducing vulnerability of local communities. NTFPs/MAPs are one among the forest goods/services that provide economic returns to poor communities who rely on the forest, making them resilient to climate change-induced disaster.

PPFA is vulnerable to climate change with negative impacts on water resources, agriculture and biodiversity due to increase in temperature and changes in precipitation patterns. It was found that a natural hazard, mainly the landslide/soil erosion during short monsoon period was the main factor for the loss of NTFPs/MAPs habitat.

Furthermore, cold days have also decreased. These impacts have affected the phenological behavior of NTFPs/MAPs, affecting their natural regeneration. Long-term monitoring to assess the impact of climate change on the forest plants and some mitigation and adaptation measures are recommended.

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Sue Perry, U.S. Geological Survey
Mark Petersen, U.S. Geological Survey

The U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Maps: New Audiences, New Products—Input Welcome!

To save lives and protect property, the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program requires the U.S. Geological Survey to assess the nation's seismic hazards. The USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps are an important outcome of this requirement. The Building Seismic Safety Council incorporates the Maps into the country's model building codes, which help engineers to develop safer building practices. In addition, the Maps inform insurance and re-insurance rates, risk assessments, and varied public policy decisions. Thus the USGS works with a large group of experts to update the Maps about every six years, to make sure they incorporate the best available earthquake science.

Currently, the Maps and their web pages (e.g. speak to the specialized expertise of earthquake scientists and building code engineers. To use the Maps or their underlying information effectively and accurately, other groups would likely benefit from different maps—or perhaps another product entirely. Thus, we have launched a multi-year effort to expand the usability of the Maps and to correct misunderstandings about the Maps that have consequences for public safety and expectations.

This poster portrays the current Maps to invite your reactions and feedback, regarding questions such as these: What information do you take away from the Maps? How might you use them? Are there changes that could help you to understand them better? What other applications do you envision for these Maps? Are there other formats that could effectively deliver this information? Please stop by and share your thoughts.

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Antonia Rosati, University of Colorado, Denver

Tsunami Preparedness Within a Tempered Apocalyptic Discourse

Tsunami education gives information about tsunami generation, emergency communication procedures, and expected ocean behavior. The direct intention of hazard education is to motivate individuals to prepare in advance.

Universal preparations include knowing the signs of an oncoming hazard, creating a family plan, being aware of evacuation routes, and packing an emergency backpack. Hazard education also has a latent intention: instilling a sense of agency in individuals. Agency is the feeling or belief that survival is possible.

Education and preparedness make survival and a feeling of agency a reality. In this research, I show that the NOAA TsunamiReady Program, the International Tsunami Information Centre, and the Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group use varying degrees of tempered apocalyptic discourse to create awareness and motivate people to make the desired preparations. By examining the literature in communication studies, I illustrate storytelling techniques and apocalyptic tempering through an examination of language and imagery from international, national, and local educational sources.

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Carlos Samuel, University of North Texas

Roles, Challenges, and Success Indicators: An Exploration of the Current Status of Hazard Mitigation in Regional North Central Texas Emergency Management

While research has highlighted the benefits of hazard mitigation planning, the role(s) of emergency management offices in delivering these benefits is less understood. This research will explore the current status of hazard mitigation in regional North Central Texas emergency management by calling upon the unique perspective of emergency managers to (1) understand the role(s) of regional North Central Texas emergency managers in hazard mitigation planning and emergency manager’s perceptions of the roles of other contributing stakeholders, (2) identify the challenges local emergency management offices are confronted with in pursuing hazard mitigation and the strategies used to overcome them and, (3) emergency manager’s perceptions regarding definitions of hazard mitigation success.

Guided by Labadie’s (1984) “Organizational Niche” framework, this research examines how the outlined objectives vary by emergency management office configuration (e.g. stand-alone vs. integrated) and where applicable, the particular parent agency housing the emergency management office. Data is gathered through an online survey and by interviewing a sample of North Central Texas emergency managers who represent jurisdictions of varying geographic classifications (urban vs. rural) and emergency management offices of differing organizational arrangements. A mixed methods approach is used to analyze data gathered through both data collection instruments. Findings will provide an overview of the current status of hazard mitigation in regional North Central Texas emergency management by delineating emergency management office roles in hazard mitigation, notable challenges, and participant definition of success.

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Amy Schweikert, University of Colorado, Boulder
Paul Chinowsky, University of Colorado, Boulder

Reducing Climate Change Impacts by Integrating Social Vulnerability Analyses and Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Adaptation

Climate change poses a significant hazard to many facets of development, particularly in areas where poverty is widespread and key assets are underdeveloped for current needs. Transport infrastructure represents a significant asset which is highly vulnerable to climatic impacts resulting in high costs of repair, loss of use, and hazard to life during extreme events.

‘Climate justice’ literature highlights the unequal distribution of impacts; often, the populations most impacted by climate-change related events are least able to respond and recover. Many studies identify these vulnerable populations, but provide few tangible options to enhance resilience.

The Infrastructure Planning Support System (IPSS) is a tool which identifies the potential vulnerabilities of transport infrastructure to climate change impacts. This research integrates the adaptation investment options presented by IPSS with a social vulnerability analysis to present quantitative, data-driven, prioritized investment options for policy makers. The prioritized roads are based on two criteria: positive life-cycle cost-benefit returns on investment in road infrastructure (from IPSS) and existing social vulnerability to climate change.

This research presents preliminary results from an integrated assessment of data from the State of California through 2050.

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Siebeneck, Laura, University of North Texas

Accounting for Observer Bias in Tornado Risk and Vulnerability Assessments: The Case of Texas Tornados

Accounting for the true frequency and locations of tornado events is difficult. As noted in other studies, the reporting of tornado frequency has traditionally been higher in areas of greater population, as there are more people likely to see and report the tornado.

While advances in radar and storm spotter systems have allowed for the reporting of more tornadoes in unpopulated areas, the problem of underreported tornado events in rural areas is problematic, especially as it can potentially impact the accuracy of risk and vulnerability assessments using historical tornado data. A major challenge and question identified by emergency managers working at the Texas Department of Emergency Management is, in light of this observer bias, how can they better account for the frequency and spatial distribution of historical tornado occurrence when creating hazard mitigation plans for the state and local communities?

This study examines tornado reporting bias in Texas using a regression-based methodology developed by Paruk and Blackwell in 1994. Using the results of this analysis, the adjusted historic frequency for each Texas county is then applied to a risk and vulnerability assessment in order to examine the extent to which observer bias impacts the quality and accuracy of these assessments.

It is expected that the findings of this project will provide a more accurate representation of tornado risk and vulnerability in Texas which in turn can lead to improved mitigation and preparedness planning.

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Alexandra Testa, Univeristy of Massachusetts Amherst
Alice Alipour, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Resilience of Civil Infrastructure Systems: A Probabilistic Topology-Based Approach

The functionality of complex infrastructure networks necessitates resilience in face of natural disasters. The continued development of modern infrastructure increases the magnitude of possible damage resulting from a hazardous event. Resilience relies on a number of parameters, namely redundancy, robustness, resourcefulness and rapidity.

Many of these can be represented by measures common to graph theory. Reducing a real network to a combination of links and nodes allows the complete application of topological graph theory, a branch of graph theory dependent on the physical layout and connectivity of the network. Network parameters are contextualized by the definition of resilience to quantify the preparedness of an infrastructure system to a natural disaster. These fundamental properties of a network can provide measurements appropriate to comprehend the preparedness and functionality of an infrastructure system to various hazards.

One of the most vital infrastructure networks to the modern urban society is the highway network—the system of highways, roads and their intersections. This investigation explores methods to measure the response of infrastructure to hazards and disasters, which result in the failure of one or several network elements.

Because of its centrality to transportation, its proximity to an area prone to seismic hazards and its infrastructure density, the highway network of the San Francisco Bay Area is chosen as a case study. A probabilistic approach is used to optimize the mean-risk objective of the system loss considering the topological properties of the network.

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Hung-Lung Wei, Texas A&M University
Fei Wang, University of Science and Technology of China
Jiuchang Wei, University of Science and Technology of China
Michael Lindell, Texas A&M University
Carla Prater, Texas A&M University

Examining Household Responses to H7N9 Avian Flu in Anhui Province, China

In March 2013, the cases of human infection with influenza A (H7N9) virus were first reported in the city of Shanghai and Anhui Province, China. According to the report of the World Health Organization, 144 cases had been identified and 46 people had died by November, 2013.

To date, there are no commercially available vaccines for the H7N9 avian flu. For this reason, it is crucial to understand people’s risk perceptions, where they get the risk information, and how they take the protective actions to fight against the H7N9 avian flu.

This study examines the relationships among people’s risk perceptions, information needs, information seeking behaviors, and protective actions with respect to the H7N9 avian flu in Anhui Province, China. We utilized a mail survey data collected one year earlier to test our hypotheses.

Regarding the exposure path, our results show that during the outbreak of H7N9 influenza, households believe that they are more likely to become sick if they share the restrooms with the patients, touch dead birds, and hug the patients. In addition, our findings suggest that households are more likely to rely on the risk information sources from the national news websites, followed by the national TV channels, social media, national newspapers, local news websites, family, peers, and community leaflets.

In terms of H7N9 protective actions, respondents gave the highest ratings to seeing a doctor, followed by practicing hygiene, eating fully cooked food, learning H7N9 information, avoiding touching animals, taking medicine, and reducing outdoor activities.

In summary, our research highlights the importance of exposure path, risk communication, risk perception, and protective action.

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Brian Wolshon, Louisiana State University
Zhao Zhang, Tsinghua University
Scott Parr, Louisiana State University
Katherine Spansel, Louisiana State University

Megaregion Evacuation Analysis Using Traffic Simulation

As world populations grow and people concentrate in urbanized areas, once separate cities have grown into continuously developed and connected megaregions. Worldwide, there are now many of these areas, some encompassing more than 100 million people. Many occupy coasts vulnerable to catastrophic disasters. While a low-probability event, the idea of evacuating a megaregion at some time in the future is a possibility. The planning of emergency evacuations on such massive scales is overwhelming. It has never been comprehensively or systematically undertaken.

Advancements in computational power and speed, coupled with emerging methods to more effectively analyze and visualize vast quantities of data, permit the modeling and analysis of such conditions. This presentation will describe aspects and results of first-of-its kind effort to develop a micro-level traffic simulation for the evacuation of a megaregion.

A mass evacuation event occurring in an emerging megaregion was modeled using a traffic demand generation process that created a spatial and temporal distribution of departure times, origins, and destinations based on past hurricanes. The megaregion-scale traffic simulation model allowed vehicle interactions from multiple cities traveling in overlapping directions to be analyzed over several days. The traffic movements and congestion patterns generated by the models illustrate critical aspects of the evacuation road system, including network capacity restrictions and clearance time requirements.

The results illustrated the potential benefits of proactive traffic management strategies and the effect of increased and decreased advanced warning times. The knowledge and results from this research, while focused on a specific area and threat, are adaptable and transferable to any location, with different road networks, populations, transportation resources, and hazard threats. Models such as this can also be modified to represent future anticipated growth and development within other large regions and can be used to evaluate the performance, varying conditions, and interrelationships between behavioral response and regional transportation management strategies.

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Hao-Che Wu, Sam Houston State University
Andrew Prelog, Sam Houston State University
Clayton Wukich, Sam Houston State University

Emergency Evacuations and Risk Communication during the 2013 Colorado Flood

Major flooding occurs almost every year somewhere in the world. Nevertheless flood risk is not well understood by the general public. An unexpected flood can be extremely dangerous and costly, as indicated by the catastrophic flooding in September 2013 that occurred in and around Boulder, Colorado. The purposes of this study are to better understand the use of social media during flood response and the ephemeral nature of household disaster response data.

In contrast to hurricanes studies, floods are more likely to be characterized by warnings from emergency managers and peers directly—perhaps more through social media than in previous years. In addition, the time required to mobilize the resources for a major post-disaster survey delays the collection of data from households, but little is known about whether people’s recollections of their immediate pre-impact beliefs and actions change over time.

The household flood response survey was conducted at different times to determine if this is a real methodological problem or just a theoretical possibility. The preliminary findings of this study include: (1) the importance of emergency managers’ local knowledge on flood evacuation; (2) the use of Colorado WebEOC during flood response; (3) the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook during flood evacuation by emergency managers; and (4) household information sources during flood response.

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