Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday as one of the strongest hurricanes on record to ever hit the United States. Its powerful Category 4 winds and intense storm surge left millions of people in Louisiana without power and with catastrophic damage to entire communities. While the New Orleans levee system (rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina in 2005) held up, there are still questions about the city’s infrastructure and how the impacted areas will recover. CU Boulder experts can discuss impacts related to infrastructure, preparedness, disaster aid and social aspects of disaster recovery.
Infrastructure and preparedness
Keith Porter, professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering and the Natural Hazards Center, is an expert in how natural disasters affect the built environment and society. He can discuss how investment in infrastructure today can mitigate financial losses from natural disasters long-term. “Making our utilities and transportation infrastructure resilient to natural disasters can be expensive,” he said. “But it's far more expensive not to do so.”
Paul Chinowsky, director of the Environmental Design Program and professor of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, can discuss designing for disasters and hurricanes. His research and consulting work focuses in the area of disaster preparedness and response for infrastructure and buildings. He has worked with local, national and international organizations, including the EPA, on appropriate design guidelines for minimizing risk from disasters. He is currently working on developing local recommendations for reducing infrastructure and building vulnerability due to climate change and associated increases in size and intensity of disasters.
Stephen Billings, professor of Real Estate in the Leeds School of Business, studies the intersection of housing, schools, neighborhoods and crime. His recent research includes exploring equity issues in disaster aid distribution, particularly how that came to play in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Risk communication and social impacts
Nnenia Campbell, a researcher in the Natural Hazards Center, is an expert in the social aspects of disasters and can speak about risk communication, the intersection of disasters and COVID-19, burnout within the disaster workforce and what happens to socially vulnerable populations in disasters, particularly with respect to older adults, low-income groups and racial and ethnic minorities. Campbell recently co-authored a report about the unique challenges that COVID-19 has presented in emergency evacuations and has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a project related to risk communication for socially vulnerable populations.