Research

Our project list has grown considerably, and continues to grow even further. The following is a list of projects that are currently active as a part of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center.

 

Structures of Long-Term Disaster Recovery: Organizational Roles and Collaboration in Six Cities

Duration: 2014-2016

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (#1434957)

Funding Amount: 221,076

PI: Michelle Meyer (Sociology)

Co_PIs: Walter Gillis Peacock, Shannon Van Zandt, David Bierling, John Cooper Jr.

Abstract:

Long-term recovery is the least theorized and studied stage of disasters. Yet, in the past decade, large disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina (2005), Rita (2005), Ike (2008), and Sandy (2012), and smaller but still destructive disasters such as wildfires in Texas (2011) and Colorado (2013), flooding of the Mississippi River (2011), and even technological disasters (West, TX 2013) have left numerous communities struggling with post-disaster planning, unequal and partial recovery outcomes, and recovery efforts that fail to reduce pre-disaster vulnerabilities. Increasing disaster frequencies and impacts mean more communities will struggle, often with little local experience in managing the difficult processes of achieving sustainable and resilient recovery. This research focuses on disaster recovery across different communities to build the knowledge-base and best practices that will help other communities prepare for and plan for disaster recovery. The results of this research will support efforts by local governments and nongovernmental organizations to develop recovery frameworks and plans that will speed disaster recovery and improve fiscal efficiency.

To accomplish these goals, this research project involves in-depth study and extensive comparative analysis of the structures and networks of groups and organizations involved in disaster recovery efforts across six different communities that recently experienced disasters: Granbury, Texas (2013, tornado), West, Texas (2013, industrial facility explosion), Marion County, Texas (2011, wildfire), Bastrop County, Texas (2011, wildfire), Galveston, Texas (2008, Hurricane Ike), Brownsville, Texas (2008, Hurricane Dolly). Governmental and nongovernmental collaboration during recovery is important, yet which types of collaboration work best for recovery are little understood. Most disaster-related studies on organizational collaboration focus on response and emergency management agencies not on charities and community organizations that work on long-term recovery for two to ten years following a disaster. For each of the case locations, the researchers will conduct in-person interviews with organizational leaders, observe recovery committee and community meetings, document recovery events, and analyze community reconstruction and rehabilitation. This approach will provide rich information that will enable the team to compare and contrast the practices used in the different cases and develop a model of disaster recovery organizational networks. This data will allow the researchers to evaluate the organizational coordination in disaster recovery and describe interactions between various levels of government (local, regional, state, and national). Based on the project outcomes, the researchers will identify promising practices and lessons learned which can be utilized by other communities that are engaged in pre-disaster or post-disaster recovery planning.

 

REU Site: Studies in Social Inequality and Social Vulnerability

Duration: 2014-2016

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (#1359240)

Funding Amount: 269,997

PI: Mark Fossett (Sociology)

Co_PIs: Walter Gillis Peacock

Abstract:

This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program at Texas A & M University aims to attract undergraduates to careers in social science research and to increase the participation of talented individuals from under-represented groups (e.g., African Americans and Latinos). The Departments of Sociology (SOCI) and Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning (LAUP) collaborate to host this REU Site that brings undergraduate students majoring in sociology, planning, and related disciplines to participate in an eight-week Summer Institute focusing on Studies of Inequality and Social Vulnerability. The primary student activities are participating in a faculty-supervised research project leading to a research paper and presentation at a professional conference, while upporting activities include a seminar providing grounding in theory, data, and methods relevant for research projects; two research field trips; and workshops on opportunities for graduate education and research careers. The site theme "Studies of Social Inequality and Social Vulnerability" reflects the expertise of the researcher mentors from SOCI & LAUP and is proven effective in attracting applications from African American and Latino students. The eight research mentors have strong research and mentoring credentials and prior experience in overseeing successful NSF REU and SBE programs. 

Students are incorporated into the ongoing research programs of the mentors and assigned individual research projects. Selected examples include: documenting disparities in socioeconomic, residential, and health outcomes by race and poverty-income status; assessing differential vulnerability of social groups to natural and technical hazards; assessing how hazards (e.g., hurricanes and floods) differentially impact ethnic minority, low income, and other vulnerable populations; investigating correlates, causes, and consequences of residential segregation by race and income; conducting historical case studies of the evolution of residential segregation over time in selected cities; and assessing variation in recovery from the impact of hazards. Diversity goals will be served by practices used in prior successful REU Sites. These include working closely with faculty at minority serving universities that have limited STEM student research opportunities to identify promising, motivated students with interests in graduate education and research careers. The proposed REU Site draws on the faculty expertise and institutional resources of two nationally prominent doctoral departments to provide students intensive research experiences based on participating in ongoing research projects, some funded by NSF, relating to social inequality and social vulnerability. Students undertake individual projects directed by faculty mentors and designed to be feasible over the summer institute and within the capabilities of advanced undergraduates. Although the immediate contributions of student projects to science could be modest, the larger intellectual merit is enhancing student research capabilities, understanding of and interest in research, and odds of going on to graduate education and research careers.

 

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

Duration: 2013-2015

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (#1348070)

Funding Amount: 43,893

PI: Michelle Meyer

Co_PIs: Shannon Van Zandt, Walter Gillis Peacock, David Bierling, and John Cooper

Abstract

The purpose of this Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant is to explore community and resident post-disaster recovery in two small US towns. Both towns experienced disasters in the spring of 2013, but one town experienced a natural disaster while the other town had a technological disaster. To understand how disaster recovery differs based on the type of disaster, we are comparing the immediate recovery periods in each town. Often researchers compare disaster effects across very different communities or across different time periods. Our research takes advantage of a rare opportunity to compare disaster recovery in communities that are similar in size, location, and cultural traits but faced different disasters at about the same time. We are gathering data from community leaders and residents in both towns to address topics important to disaster recovery, including post-disaster community planning, community-based recovery activities, and residents' rebuilding or relocating decisions and efforts.

Although previous research has improved what people know about disasters, how communities recover from them, and what makes communities resilient, there is still a lot to learn. The results of our research will help other communities as they plan for the disasters they face. This research responds directly to efforts by US Federal and state governments to increase the disaster resilience of local communities. Communities across the country face the risk of both types of disaster. Man-made disasters, such as industrial accidents, explosions, or chemical leaks, are a risk for any community that has hazardous facilities located near homes and businesses. Natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, regularly occur across the country. Based on what is learned in this project, recommendations will be made about how other local communities can increase their resilience and be better able to recover from disasters when they do occur.

 

Texas Census Research Data Center (TXCRDC)

Duration: 2011-2015

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (#1061410)

Funding Amount: 300,000

PI: Mark Fossett (Sociology)

Co_PIs: Dudley Poston (Sociology), Simon Sheather (Statistics), Walter Gillis Peacock (Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center), Rogelio Saenz (UT-San Antonio)

Abstract:

This award provides start-up funding for the establishment of a Research Data Center located in the Texas A&M University Research Park in College Station. A consortium of universities, including Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M University System, the University of Texas at Austin, and Baylor University, will partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to establish and operate the Texas Census Research Data Center (TXCRDC). The TXCRDC will house a secure, state-of-the art computing facility to provide researchers in the surrounding multi-state region access to confidential data files available only through the national network of Census Research Data Centers. By providing access confidential federal data, the TXCRDC will enhance the research capabilities and quality of projects that can be undertaken by researchers in Texas and the surrounding area.

As one of only a dozen such facilities in the nation, the TXCRDC will serve the needs of a broad, interdisciplinary research community for the purposes of conducting a mix of basic science research and policy research. Research projects conducted in the TXCRDC will involve many dozens of researchers drawn from a variety of scientific disciplines. Projects will address a diverse range of topics including, but not limited to the following: business and management policy; health sciences and health policy; immigration, migration and population distribution and change; urban and regional planning; engineering and social impact analysis; planning for hazards and disasters and assessment of hazards impact and recovery; transportation science and transportation planning and policy; and environmental and energy policies. The center also will provide direct benefits to the federal statistical agencies by enhancing the quality and value of their data and statistical systems.

 

Collaborative Research: Modeling, Display, and Understanding Uncertainty in Simulations for Policy Decision Making

Duration:
October 2012 - September 2016
Funding Agency:
Division of Information & Intelligent Systems (IIS)
Funding Amount:
$319,125/4 years
PI:
Michael Lindell
Co-PI:
Carla Prater

Abstract

The goal of this collaborative project (1212806, Ross T. Whitaker, University of Utah; 1212501, Donald H. House, Clemson University; 1212577, Mary Hegarty, University of California-Santa Barbara; 1212790, Michael K. Lindell, Texas A&M University Main Campus) is to establish the computational and cognitive foundations for capturing and conveying the uncertainty associated with predictive simulations, so that software tools for visualizing these forecasts can accurately and effectively present this information about to a wide range of users. Three demonstration applications are closely integrated into the research plan: one in air quality management, a second in wildfire hazard management, and a third in hurricane evacuation management. This project is the first large-scale effort to consider the visualization of uncertainty in a systematic, end-to-end manner, with the goal of developing a general set of principles as well as a set of tools for accurately and effectively conveying the appropriate level of uncertainties for a range of decision-making processes of national importance.

The primary impact of this work will be methods and tools for conveying the results of predictive simulations and their associated uncertainties, resulting in better informed public policy decisions in situations that rely on such forecasts. Scientific contributions are expected in the areas of simulation and uncertainty quantification, visualization, perception and cognition, and decision making in the presence of uncertainty. Results will be broadly disseminated in a variety of ways across a wide range of academic disciplines and application areas, and will be available at the project Web site (http://visunc.sci.utah.edu). The multidisciplinary nature of the research and the close integration of the participating research groups will provide a unique educational environment for graduate students and other trainees, while also broadening the participation in computer science beyond traditional boundaries.

 

The Adoption and Utilization of Hazard Mitigation Practices by Jurisdictions along Gulf and Atlantic Coasts

Duration:
September 2012 - August 2015
Funding Agency:
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
Funding Amount:
$440,000/3 years
PI:
Walter G. Peacock
Co-PI:
Shannon Van Zandt and Himanshu Grover
 

Abstract

The increasing numbers of jurisdictions participating in hazard mitigation planning activities has not guaranteed the implementation of mitigation strategies and practices at the local level. While several recent studies suggest a disconnection between mitigation planning and practice, little is known about the actual adoption and usage of mitigation practice by local jurisdictions. The objective of this study is to empirically investigate mitigation policy practices at the local level.  The study specifically seeks to: a) Examine the adoption and the implementation of broad-based hazard mitigation policies that can enhance hazard mitigation within local jurisdictions (counties and municipalities) along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal; b) Examine the influence of local capacity and commitment in the adoption and extent of hazard mitigation regulations, policies, and strategies; and c) Focus on the broader socio-political ecology for planning practice by examining the consequences of factors on various jurisdicational mitigation practices and profiles. This project will provide an assessment of the effectiveness of federal policy designed to improve mitigation, as well as direction for improving such policies through the assessment of factors related to implementation, including the consistency of actions at different jurisdictional levels, as well as the commitment and capacity of local jurisdictions to act.  Broad dissemination to both academic and practitioner audiences through the development of a website and publication of best mitigation practices and model ordinances promises the return of the findings to the audiences who may best benefit from them. The findings of this research will have a direct bearing on the content of educational activities, directly influencing the broader planning community.

 

CGV: Large: Collaborative Research: Modeling, Display, and Understanding Uncertainty in Simulations for Policy Decision 

Duration:
October 2012 - September 2016
Funding Agency:
Division of Information & Intelligent Systems (IIS)
Funding Amount:
$319,125/4 years
PI:
Michael Lindell
Co-PI:
Carla Prater
 
Abstract

The goal of this collaborative project (1212806, Ross T. Whitaker, University of Utah; 1212501, Donald H. House, Clemson University; 1212577, Mary Hegarty, University of California-Santa Barbara; 1212790, Michael K. Lindell, Texas A&M University Main Campus) is to establish the computational and cognitive foundations for capturing and conveying the uncertainty associated with predictive simulations, so that software tools for visualizing these forecasts can accurately and effectively present this information about to a wide range of users. Three demonstration applications are closely integrated into the research plan: one in air quality management, a second in wildfire hazard management, and a third in hurricane evacuation management. This project is the first large-scale effort to consider the visualization of uncertainty in a systematic, end-to-end manner, with the goal of developing a general set of principles as well as a set of tools for accurately and effectively conveying the appropriate level of uncertainties for a range of decision-making processes of national importance.

The primary impact of this work will be methods and tools for conveying the results of predictive simulations and their associated uncertainties, resulting in better informed public policy decisions in situations that rely on such forecasts. Scientific contributions are expected in the areas of simulation and uncertainty quantification, visualization, perception and cognition, and decision making in the presence of uncertainty. Results will be broadly disseminated in a variety of ways across a wide range of academic disciplines and application areas, and will be available at the project Web site (http://visunc.sci.utah.edu). The multidisciplinary nature of the research and the close integration of the participating research groups will provide a unique educational environment for graduate students and other trainees, while also broadening the participation in computer science beyond traditional boundaries.

 

A Workshop on a New Cross-Directorate Program on Disaster Resilience, Vulnerability, and Risk Reduction                                                                                                                                        

Duration:
August 2011 - July 2013
Funding Agency:
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Funding Amount:
$85751/2 years
PI:
Walter G. Peacock
Co-PI:
Gregory Tripoli and Sharon Wood

Abstract

Despite significant advancement in our understanding of natural hazards and disasters within specific scientific disciplines, the United States continues to experience increasing losses. There is much evidence to suggest that our communities are becoming more vulnerable and less disaster resilient. The scientific consensus is that disasters result from the interaction between physical, built, and social systems and yet the science is generally funded and conducted within disciplinary areas. To explicitly promote and advance our knowledge of the fundamental physical, social and engineering processes associated with natural and technological hazards, the proposed project will conduct an interdisciplinary workshop of leading natural hazard and disaster researchers to identify the scientific advances from new cross-directorate activities focused on disaster resilience, vulnerability, and risk reduction. The proposed workshop will draw together leading hazard and disaster researchers from engineering, geosciences, and social, behavioral and economic sciences to provide input to the National Science Foundation about the nature, goals, and structures of new activities. The workshop will take steps toward the development of a framework for such a cross-disciplinary program. The framework will identify the core research themes and research questions related to resiliency, vulnerability, and risk reduction. Some key issues to be addressed include: 1) the identification of interdisciplinary research agendas involving engineering, geoscience, and social, behavioral and economic sciences and 2) the potential need for new research and data collection approaches to enhance longitudinal research capable of modeling and monitoring processes associated with changes in resiliency, vulnerability, and risk perceptions. The workshop will be held at the National Science Foundation in early June of 2011.

 

Examining the 100-Year Floodplain as a Metric of Risk, Loss, and Household Adjustment 

Duration:
September 2011 - August 2013
Funding Agency:
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
Funding Amount:
$318,661/2 years
PI:
Samuel Brody
Co-PI:
Michael Lindell and Wesley Highfield

Abstract

This project examines the effectives of the 100-year floodplain in predicting property damages from floods and offers improved criteria for assessing risk of inundation in low-lying coastal areas. As flood losses continue to increase in the United States, recent evidence suggests that the 100-year floodplain (the primary marker of flood risk and mitigation) is neither accurate nor sufficient in guiding communities and household decisions to mitigate the adverse impacts of floods. The inability of the floodplain designation to effectively capture the likelihood of property loss has left potentially millions of property owners unaware of the flood risk and has made it more difficult for local decision makers to ensure community development occurs in a resilient manner. First, the record of insured property damage at the household level from 2000-2009 will be spatially examined for a sample of coastal counties along the Gulf of Mexico. Second, statistical models to predict insured property damage from floods will be analyzed using proximity and built environment measures not traditionally used to determine floodplain boundaries. Finally, a survey will be conducted of households claiming losses both in and out of the floodplain to understand the perceptions of flood risks and motivations to mitigate their potential adverse impacts. 

This research will provide important information to decision makers on how to implement more precise strategies to reduce the costs of floods at the local level. An improved understanding of flood risk will enable localities to better protect themselves against loss of property and lives in coastal areas. Research findings will also help individuals living outside the floodplain, but still at high risk for flood damages reduce the chances they will experience devastating losses in the future. To this end, a major part of the research project will be to deliver findings that can be easily accessed and understood by both public officials and local residents. First, data on flood loss and areas of risk will be integrated with an existing web-based GIS system that currently serves as a technical assistance and outreach tool. Second, local neighborhoods that have become hotspots of flood loss will be worked with to increase awareness of the problem and provide options for reducing future loss. Third, results from the study will be brought into the classroom as part of graduate and undergraduate studies across two college campuses. These approaches will ensure the research findings assist local governments and individual households on how to better reduce the negative impacts of coastal flooding in the US.

 

RAPID: Immediate Behavioral Response to Earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan

Duration:
August 2011 - July 2013
Funding Agency:
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
Funding Amount:
$44,989/2 years
PI:
Samuel Brody
Co-PI:
Carla Prater

Abstract

A substantial portion of the US population at risk from earthquakes lives and works in structures that are likely to experience partial or complete collapse in the event of a major earthquake. There is no technology available that provides forewarning of local earthquakes, so people?s immediate response to earthquake shaking is very likely to determine whether they survive the event. Unfortunately, the research literature on people?s immediate response to earthquake shaking is quite small in comparison to the literature on responses to tornadoes or hurricanes or even the literature on pre-impact seismic hazard adjustments. In part, this is because major earthquakes are rare events in the US so there are few opportunities to study them. This makes it especially important to collaborate with researchers in New Zealand and Japan to examine their residents? immediate responses to the recent earthquakes in Christchurch and Tohoku. 

The proposed project will send questionnaires to 1200 residents in areas stricken by the Christchurch and Tohoku earthquakes. Using our standard mail survey procedures, we expect to get a response rate in the range of 30-50%. This project will extend the American investigators? recent research on the earthquake and tsunami in American Samoa by documenting people?s behavioral response during the earthquake shaking and all of the actions they took during the next half hour after the shaking stopped. In addition, we will collect data and conduct analyses of the effects of physical context (e.g., location in open spaces, vehicles, and buildings of various types) and social context (e.g., alone, with children, with known adults, or with adult strangers), previous earthquake experience (e.g., damage or casualties), hazard education (e.g., meetings or brochures), and household emergency preparedness (e.g., emergency plan, emergency kit, battery radio) on people?s behavioral responses. A major contribution of this study will be to assess the effects of people?s immediate emotional reactions on their behavioral responses. Although people?s emotional reactions are likely to have a significant effect on their behavior, this class of variables has been almost completely ignored in previous research on earthquake response and has been studied inadequately even in the few cases when it has been addressed.

 

Collaborative Research: Developing an Intergovernmental Management Framework for Sustainable Recovery Following Catastrophic Disasters

Duration:
September 2010 - August 2013
Funding Agency:
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
Funding Amount:
$102,715/3 years
PI:
Yu Xiao
 

Abstract

This research project will use the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake - which affected 46 million people in western China, caused over 88,000 deaths, and paralyzed the economy of a large part of Sichuan province - to answer the following question: What can government do to ensure that post-disaster recovery is fast, fair, efficient, and sustainable? Managing reconstruction following catastrophic disasters is especially challenging, because of the pressure to rebuild everything in a short time. An effective recovery process can help minimize the long-term effects of a disaster on a community. To accomplish its goal, this project will study the recovery planning and management strategies used at national, provincial, and local levels following the Wenchuan earthquake. It will also survey households to find out about the actual results of the Chinese recovery policies. A bilingual team of researchers will meet with officials and collect recovery documents from all three levels of government, and the household survey will be conducted by Chinese university students.

This research will greatly improve our understanding of recovery management after catastrophic disasters. In order to gain a deep understanding of post-disaster recovery, it is necessary to study events in a variety of settings. A detailed study of the Chinese style of recovery management, in the current era of rapid change in China, will help to broaden our understanding of post-catastrophe recovery management processes. In addition, the Chinese strategy includes some unique aspects that may be worth emulating or adapting to U.S. situations. An important aspect of this project is the research exchange and mutual learning about post-disaster recovery in China and the U.S. Researchers will work closely with Chinese colleagues in designing and executing the field research in China. The Chinese colleagues will have the opportunity to travel to the U.S. to learn about post-disaster recovery policies. The team's previous experiences in studying disaster recovery in other places indicate that this exchange will lead to continued collaboration that will advance the practice of recovery management in both countries. Furthermore, because members of the research team are involved in U.S. recovery practice and policy, the results of the research will influence future U.S. approaches to disaster recovery planning and management.

 

2-1-1 Nationwide Disaster Data Management System: Planning Phase to Develop Criteria and Protocols

Duration:
2011 - 2012
Funding Agency:
Department of Homeland Security: Science & Technology
Funding Amount:
$275,000
PI:
Sherry Bame
Co-PI:
Linda Daily & Tino Paz

 

Developing A "Living Laboratory" for Examining Community Recovery and Resilience After Disaster

Duration:
September 2009 - August 2013
Funding Agency:
Division of Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI)
Funding Amount:
$374,036/4 years
PI:
Shannon Van Zandt
Co-PI:
Walter Peacock, Samuel Brody, Wesley Highfield, and Yu Xiao

Abstract

This research builds upon several existing research initiatives along the Texas coast to provide a "living laboratory" for examining community recovery and resilience after a disaster. The Texas coast is quickly becoming the fastest growing area in the United States, exposing potentially millions more people to the adverse impacts of meteorologically-based disasters. Most recently, Hurricane Ike made landfall overnight on September 12, 2008 near Galveston, Texas. Prior to Hurricane Ike, the Texas Coastal Communities Planning Atlas documented the physical, environmental, regulatory, and social development patterns present along the Texas Coast (see coastalatlas.tamug.edu). Data collection under NSF Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) CMMI-0901605 provided immediate data on impact, dislocation, and early repair and rebuilding decisions. These data provide baseline measures for the proposed research measuring community recovery at multiple scales over a two-year period. Using the original sample, the researchers will establish a series of panel studies of households, housing units, business owners, businesses, and business structures to track recovery trajectories and adaptive learning. A geo-coded parcel-level dataset allows us to aggregate units to draw conclusions at multiple scales. In addition, the researchers will, through participatory observation analysis, qualitative interviews, and documentary analysis, track policy changes by county and city governments to assess adaptive management and social learning.

The disaster research community has called for increasingly systematic and quantitative approaches to modeling the impacts and recovery processes following a disaster, with greater attention to measuring recovery at multiple levels, to better model community resilience. Systematic identification of the key decisions made by public authorities regarding disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation planning and policy development is also needed to assess a critical dimension of resiliency associated with adaptive learning. The synergy of this research with existing projects provides the ability to do just that - to quantitatively model the dynamics of the built, regulatory, and social environment from pre-hazard event to community response, learning, and recovery - each of which are key dimensions in resilience. Findings from this research will leverage existing outreach tools to further knowledge that will enable local communities and professionals involved in the design, regulation, and management of the built and natural environments to construct communities that are more socially and physically resilient.

 

Texas Census Research Data Center (TXCRDC)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Duration:
July 2011 - June 2014
Funding Agency:
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Funding Amount:
$300,000/3 years
PI:
Mark Fossett
Co-PI:
Walter G. Peacock, Dudley Poston, Simon Sheather, and Rogelio Saenz

Abstract

This award provides start-up funding for the establishment of a Research Data Center located in the Texas A&M University Research Park in College Station.  A consortium of universities, including Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M University System, the University of Texas at Austin, and Baylor University, will partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to establish and operate the Texas Census Research Data Center (TXCRDC).  The TXCRDC will house a secure, state-of-the art computing facility to provide researchers in the surrounding multi-state region access to confidential data files available only through the national network of Census Research Data Centers.  By providing access confidential federal data, the TXCRDC will enhance the research capabilities and quality of projects that can be undertaken by researchers in Texas and the surrounding area. As one of only a dozen such facilities in the nation, the TXCRDC will serve the needs of a broad, interdisciplinary research community for the purposes of conducting a mix of basic science research and policy research.  Research projects conducted in the TXCRDC will involve many dozens of researchers drawn from a variety of scientific disciplines.  Projects will address a diverse range of topics including, but not limited to the following: business and management policy; health sciences and health policy; immigration, migration and population distribution and change; urban and regional planning; engineering and social impact analysis; planning for hazards and disasters and assessment of hazards impact and recovery; transportation science and transportation planning and policy; and environmental and energy policies.  The center also will provide direct benefits to the federal statistical agencies by enhancing the quality and value of their data and statistical systems.

 

Collaborative Research: Communicating Hurricane Information to Local Officials for Protective Active Decision Making

Duration:
February 2009 - January 2013
Funding Agency:
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Funding Amount:
$231,732/4 years
PI:
Michael Lindell
Co-PI:
Carla Prater

Abstract

The past 30 years have seen major advances in many aspects of hurricane forecasting, but there has been little systematic research on the way coastal populations interpret the weather information that is communicated to them. To date, most evaluations of hurricane information have comprised reaction criteria (asking whether potential users like a display) rather than learning (testing whether users understand a display) or performance (whether a display changes users? decisions) criteria. However, there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that many people misunderstand the displays meteorologists are providing. To better understand how people interpret hurricane forecasts and the uncertainties in those forecasts, this research will systematically examine the cognitive processes involved in hurricane tracking by conducting an evaluation of existing and novel hurricane information displays. The first task will assess the ways in which users interpret three basic elements of storm track information?the trailing track (where the storm has been), the forecast track (where it is most likely to go), and track uncertainty (how likely it is to deviate from the forecast track). Participants in different experimental conditions will observe simulated hurricanes described by these three basic elements. Some participants will be given information about only one basic element (e.g., forecast track only), others will be given information about two basic elements in combination (e.g., forecast track and uncertainty cone), and some will be given information about all three basic elements. By comparing participants in these information conditions, the research team will be able to gain insight into how each of the three basic elements affects people?s expectations about storm tracks over time. The second task will focus on the third basic element of hurricane track information (track uncertainty) by comparing a conventional uncertainty cone with five alternative track uncertainty displays?numeric probabilities, color-coded probabilities, terrain coded probabilities, arrow glyphs, and dynamic tracks. Comparing the data from these six information conditions will allow us to determine if any of the alternative displays provides a better way of conveying track uncertainty. Finally, the third task will use the findings from the first two tasks to design and evaluate new ways of visualizing storm information. 

The proposed research will provide a rigorous assessment of the cognitive processes involved in hurricane tracking. Accordingly, it has implications for the cognitive psychology (especially judgment and decision making) of complex dynamic tasks. In addition, the project will have implications for instruction because there is very little research that addresses the problems of training adults to perform rarely performed, but critical, judgment tasks such as hurricane tracking. The project will provide meteorologists with a better understanding of the ways in which people interpret hurricane forecasts and the uncertainties in those forecasts. This improved understanding will allow them to communicate more effectively with coastal populations and reduce the probability that lives will be lost in hurricanes that deviate from their forecast tracks.

 

2-1-1 Texas Database Analysis for Katrina-Rita Community Needs, 2005

Duration:
2008 - 2013
Funding Agency:
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Funding Amount:
$750,000/3 years
PI:
Sherry I. Bame
Co-PI:
Kay Parker, Vice President, United Way Brazos Valley
Collaborator:
Doug Wunneburger
Students Employed:
Robyn Bell, Tasha Davis, Aatmaja Desai, Dayna Finley, Andrew Garza, Abha Grover, Erin Harrison, Tiffany Kleb, Jee Young Lee, Kay Parker, Courtney Payne, Ashley Shaw

Abstract

Unmet community needs for evacuation, mitigation and recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be determined by analyzing the Texas 2-1-1 information & referral (I&R) data. 2-1-1 is a nationally designated phone number for non-emergency needs equivalent to 9-1-1 for emergency needs. The Texas 2-1-1 Network is comprised of 25 regions (+1 for emergencies) networked State-wide for community resource databases. The 2-1-1 caller data were collected by the Texas 2-1-1 regional programs during 2005 as they provided I&R services to their communities and to the evacuees hosted for Katrina-Rita then stored by the Texas I&R Network headquarters, Texas Health & Human Services Commission. The project will be conducted in three phases: 1) coding, cleaning & merging tertiary 2-1-1 data from 26 Texas 2-1-1 I&R regional programs (year 1); 2) analyses describing unmet needs over time and by location (year 2); 3) developing a template for 2-1-1 "real-time" analysis for emergency management use (year 3). The outcome will be the first analysis of this magnitude and scope (> 1.5 million cases in Texas) of unmet disaster-related needs over time and location state-wide. The potential application of the findings and the methods using existing 2-1-1 data will be an ability to identify unmet community needs for health and social service programs to more accurately mobilize resources to high-risk populations during preparation, evacuation, mitigation, and recovery phases of disasters. 

 

Coastal Communities Planning Atlas for Decision Makers and Local Residents: Phase II

Duration:
2008 - 2010
Funding Agency:
National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Sea Grant Award
Funding Amount:
$291,274
PI:
Samuel D. Brody
Co-PI:
Walter Peacock, Doug Wunneburger, Forster Ndubisi, June Martin
Students Employed:
Himanshu Grover, Anita Hollmann

Abstract

This project develops a coastal communities planning atlas to help local jurisdictions in Texas understand the implications of development decisions and plan appropriately for the future. It will provide an easily accessible, graphically represented, interactive database on environmental, hazard, and land use related issues for local communities. Specifically, the project will create an Internet-based spatial decision support system that will allow users to identify and visualize critical hotspots related to environmental degradation, natural hazard risks, and significant changes in land use patterns. In addition, users will be able to query data and create custom maps based on multiple development scenarios. Communities will be able to use this educational tool to guide future decisions on growth in a sustainable manner such that the need for economic development is balanced with priorities associated with environmental protection and human health, safety, and welfare. The system will also help address important research questions related to where future growth will occur in the Texas coastal zone, the impacts of this growth, and the usefulness of WebGIS in facilitating sustainable planning.

 

Social Vulnerability and Urban Development Patterns: Impacts on Community Resilience

Duration:
2008 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Funding Amount:
$144,671
PI:
Shannon Van Zandt
Students Employed:
Full Time: TAMU - Dustin Henry, TAMUG - Amie Hufton; Hourly (tentative): TAMU - Gabe Burns, Cristin Burton, Anita Hollmann, Jade Huang, Chris Hung, Jung Eun Kang, Angie Lehnert, Courtney Payne, Linda Salzar, Susan White, Hao-Che Wu, Meng Xue, Lijing Zhou. TAMUG -Ashley Estep; Mary Beth Trevino

Abstract

The susceptibility of a community to social and physical impacts from disasters is an important component of creating resilient communities that are able to respond effectively to hazard events and recover quickly after impact. Characteristics of the built, natural and social environment may exacerbate or mitigate such vulnerability and impede or facilitate the ability of residents and businesses to recover. The research project examines the impact of urban development patterns and social vulnerability on impact, dislocation, and early repair and rebuilding decisions which are critical for community resilience.

 

Development of a Land Use Change Early Warning System

Duration:
2006 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Park Service (NPS), Cooperative Agreement
Funding Amount:
$378,946
PI:
Samuel D. Brody
Co-PI:
Walter Peacock, Doug Wunneburger, Forster Ndubisi
Research Assoc:
Wesley Highfield
Students Employed:
Valerie Miller, Darmawan Psodjo

Abstract

The objective of this project is to develop an "early warning" system for planned or permitted changes in land use occurring outside the national parks of the Gulf Coast Network (GULN). The system will compile publicly available information about changes in land use and provide that information to the park staff in a format that is geographically linked, easy to use, and able to be frequently updated. This will be accomplished by mapping permits that affect properties adjacent to the Park on a continual basis and delivering this information as maps to park managers. Park staff will then have the option to participate in, comment on, or respond internally to any actions they deem appropriate. The intent is to give park managers the information needed to plan accordingly for upcoming changes in land use near the park. 

 

Advancing the Resilience of Coastal Localities: Developing, Implementing and Sustaining the Use of Coastal Resilience Indicators

Duration:
2007 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Coastal Services Center (CSC)
Funding Amount:
$299,922
PI:
Walter Peacock
Students Employed:
Joseph Mayunga

Abstract

Texas A&M University (TAMU), Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG), and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) are working together to develop a suite of Community Resilience Indicators (CRIs) (Activity 1) and a comprehensive strategy for not only gaining community support and input into their development and implementing but also undertake future training (Activity 2) in the use of CRIs to enhance coastal community resilience along the Gulf Coast. Our project will also be closely integrated with the University of New Orleans's project in Louisiana. Drawing on two projects whose strengths are complementary on indicator development and yet offer two unique approaches for gaining and sustaining community involvement will yield implementation strategies that include a collaboratively-developed plan to develop and implement CRIs in a range of community settings. The PIs will work closely with the Coastal Services Center (CSC) to develop strategies that fully address the available and future resource and services support of the CSC. 

 

Status and Trends of Coastal Vulnerability to Natural Hazards

Duration:
2006 - 2012
Funding Agency:
Coastal Coordination Council, Texas General Land Office (GLO), National Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Funding Amount:
$744,000
PI:
Walter Peacock
Students Employed:
Gabriel Burns, Rahmawati Husein, Jung Eun Kang, Joseph Mayunga

Abstract

This proposal is to make a status and trends study of coastal vulnerability to natural hazards that would consider the following items: Evaluate content and implementation of the State of Texas Mitigation Plan (October 2004) for applicability to the Coastal Management Plan. Assess the regulatory regime and effectiveness of construction codes and land use planning policies to mitigate potential impacts of coastal natural hazards. Identify best practices and emerging technologies related to building code and land use planning that could further mitigation potential impacts of coastal natural hazards. Assess the local, state and federal resources available for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery to coastal natural hazards and evaluate their application to the Coastal Management Program. Evaluate the geographic relationship between current coastal management program boundaries and project impacts from various categories of hurricanes based on the latest coastal study area maps. Assess the physical and social vulnerabilities of coastal populations to facilitate planning and policy development related to hazard mitigation and response. Assess the adoption of hazard mitigation technologies (e.g., hurricane shutters), issues related to the adoption of these technologies, and disaster planning by households and businesses so that effective and targeted outreach and education activities can be developed.

 

Hazard Vulnerability and Resiliency Observatory Network

Duration:
2008 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Funding Amount:
$83,454
PI:
Walter Peacock
Students Employed:
Sarah Bernhardt

Abstract

The goal of this project is to explore the possibility of establishing a Natural Hazard Vulnerability and Resiliency Observatory Network. In the spring of 2008, a workshop was held among leading scholars and experts on the social dimensions of natural hazards to lay the conceptual foundation for a future Network.

 

Collaborative Research: DRU: Community Risk Management of Hurricane and Tsunami Surge Hazards

Duration:
2006 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Funding Amount:
$332,419/3 years
PI:
Michael Lindell, Carla Prater

Abstract

This project is conducting research on coastal communities' best options for protecting themselves from hurricane and tsunami surge hazards. In the past year, we completed revisions on a multi-stage model of household response to three hazards-flood, hurricane, and toxic chemical release (Lindell & Hwang, 2008). The model, which extends Lindell and Perry's (1992, 2004) Protective Action Decision Model, proposed a basic causal chain from hazard proximity through hazard experience and risk perception to expectations of continued residence in the home and adoption of household hazard adjustments. In a second, task, we completed the final revisions on a community policy process review that has assessed changes in communities' tsunami hazard awareness and emergency preparedness and examined the processes influencing community management of hurricane and tsunami surge hazards (Tang, Lindell, Prater & Brody, 2008). A third task completed revisions on a simple, rapid method for calculating evacuation time estimates (ETEs) that is compatible with research findings about evacuees' behavior in hurricanes (Lindell, 2008). A fourth task examined the degree to which the use of the Incident Command System (ICS) influenced the performance of Texas EOCs during Hurricane Rita (Lutz & Lindell, 2008).

 

Communicating Hurricane Information to Local Officials For Protective Action Decision Making

Duration:
2009 - 2011
Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Funding Amount:
$399,975 ($234,580 Texas A&M University; $165,395 Clemson University)
PI:
Michael Lindell, Carla Prater
 

Abstract

This project will address four fundamental research objectives, the first of which is to assess the extent of users' knowledge about fundamental concepts of hurricane behavior and evacuation management. The second objective is to examine users' mental models of hurricane evacuation decisions, the third objective is to examine users' interpretations of conventional hurricane track displays, and the fourth objective is to develop and test new visualization methodologies for hurricane event displays.

 

Local Hazardous Materials Commodity Flow Data and Methodology Guidance

Duration:
2007 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Research Council, Transportation Research Board (NRC/TRB)
Funding Amount:
$300,000
PI:
George Rogers
Students Employed:
David Bierling, Gao Shan

Abstract

Examines and rewrites the Haz Mat Commodity Flow Study (CFS) guidelines for Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs).

 

Developing a Model Framework for Storm Recovery Planning in Coastal Properties of the National Park Service

Duration:
2007 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Park Service (NPS)
Funding Amount:
$130,000
PI:
George Rogers
Students Employed:
Eric Bardenhagen

Abstract

Develop Hurricane Recovery Plan for Cape Lookout National Seashore.

 

Socio-Economic Impacts of Earthquakes

Duration:
2007 - 2008
Funding Agency:
Mid-American Earthquake Center, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Funding Amount:
$45,000
PI:
Walter Peacock
Students Employed:
Yi Z Lin

Abstract

The goal of the project is to advance the state-of-the-art of social science research on earthquake hazards to be better aligned and integrated with the quantitative modeling approach that characterizes current research in the geophysical and engineering areas, including: Developing a set of quantitative models to estimate the social and economic consequences that result from the physical damage produced by earthquakes of various sizes. Developing a cross-hazard metric to characterize the damage sites produced by a hazard event (earthquake, flood or hurricane). This metric will serve as the exogenous variable that drives the social and economic models.

 

Research Planning Support: EDP Program

Duration:
2006 - 2009
Funding Agency:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Funding Amount:
$50,000
PI:
George Rogers
Students Employed:
None

Abstract

Consult with FEMA and MDC on Emergency Preparedness Demonstration Program (EDP) program and help with report preparation for Congressional Report on EDP.

 

Emergency Preparedness Demonstration Project

Duration:
2005 - 2007
Funding Agency:
MDC Inc.
Funding Amount:
$57,000
PI:
George Rogers
Students Employed:
Gabriel Burns

Abstract

Conduct Associated Group Analysis (AGA) surveys on disadvantaged groups in Gulf Coast area. Our task is to analyze risk language using an AGA analysis in various groups within disadvantaged communities impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. Individuals in each group will list the important problems and issues in their community. The words used to express these will be further elaborated in terms of their shared underlying cultural meaning. The process is expected: 1) to empower subjects to help identify local concerns; 2) to create opportunities for subjects to discover shared meanings which can be viewed as an important first step in community agenda setting; and 3) to share results with communities, to help identify barriers to communication before, during and after disaster. The ultimate analyses of pattern differences will enhance communication through enhance shared meaning.

 

Modeling Watershed Flooding and Adaptive Flood Management: An Integrative Plan for Research, Teaching, and Learning

Duration:
2004 - 2009
Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award
Funding Amount:
$515,500
PI:
Samuel D. Brody
Research Assoc:
Wesley Highfield
Students Employed:
Anita Hollmann, Walter M. Peacock

Abstract

This research project addresses coastal flooding problems by implementing an interactive research and educational program on flood mitigation, sustainable watershed management, and policy learning. It develops a framework for adaptive decision making for coastal flood hazards by integrating research, education, and information dissemination. The research component focuses on the impacts of wetland development on coastal watershed flooding and policy learning at the community level to mitigate the adverse impacts of flood damage to the human and natural environment. A two-phase longitudinal research design employs both quantitative and qualitative analyses to investigate flooding problems in Texas and Florida. Phase one will use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to examine the spatial pattern of wetland development over a ten-year period and correlate this development with coastal watershed flooding. Phase two will identify thresholds of policy learning by examining how communities adjust and adapt to repetitive flooding. Both research phases will use multivariate analysis to measure the effects of wetland development on flooding and the effects of flooding on policy adjustment while controlling for socioeconomic, biophysical, and other contextual factors.