Contact: Lisa Merkl
713-743-8192 (office)
lkmerkl@central.uh.edu

Batten Down the Hatches: Hurricane Tip Sheet From UH

Forecasters expect six to nine hurricanes to form in the Atlantic this year, saying two to five of those could be major. With the first named storm this year getting a head start before the official June 1 start of the season, it’s not too early to start planning. As you consider stories for your coverage of this year’s hurricanes and tropical storms, be prepared with these resources from the University of Houston representing experts across various fields. For more information, or if you are unable to reach a professor, give us a call at 713-743-8192.

EVACUATIONS: HOW TO RESPOND DURING AND AFTER THE STORM
Peter Bishop, UH associate professor of human development and consumer science, is working with a number of organizations, including TxDOT, to develop scenarios, visions and strategic plans for the future. He can discuss a strategic plan for evacuation and can explore the long-term forecast of the repercussions of such a disaster – economically and socially. Bishop also can address changes in public policies and people’s behavior as they relate to the threat of hurricanes. Additionally, he can discuss society’s fears of unusual phenomena or natural disasters and how they trigger reactions such as the massive evacuation during Hurricane Rita. Reach him at 281-283-3323 or pbishop@uh.edu.

WORTH HIS SALT: STORM CHASER TACKLES HURRICANES
James Lawrence, UH associate professor of geosciences, has developed an innovative salt-detection device to measure the salt content of rain while flying through tropical storms and hurricanes. Lawrence’s research is aimed at understanding how extra heat derived from sea spray enhances the development of the dangerous Category 3 to 5 hurricanes. The instrument was developed for use on the NOAA’s P3 research aircraft and, space permitting, will be flown this coming hurricane season. The instrument has been tested in the wind tunnel facility at Texas A&M University and also can be mounted on his pickup truck to study the salt content of tropical storms and minimal hurricanes. For more information, contact Lisa Merkl at 713-743-8192 or lkmerkl@uh.edu to be connected with Lawrence.

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT: FOOD SAFETY WHEN POWER IS OUT
Food safety when the power goes out is a very real problem during hurricanes and tropical storms. Nancy Graves, an associate professor and a registered dietician, can answer questions about how long food can go before spoiling without refrigeration and what steps can be taken to protect food in your freezer in the event of an extended power outage. Reach her at 713-743-2426 or nsgraves@central.uh.edu.

PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER: SAFETY NETS KEY FOR MEDICATION
Pharmacists suggest keeping a list of all prescription medications in a safe yet readily accessible place in case of evacuation ahead of a hurricane or during a flood event. It’s also a good idea to e-mail the list to yourself or save it as a draft in an email account that can be accessed from any computer. Although most chain pharmacies can access their databases for necessary prescription information, problems may arise if the patient uses multiple pharmacies or independent pharmacies. A new state law that took effect in September 2007 allows pharmacists to provide a 30-day supply of medication when a natural disaster has been declared, even when a patient’s doctor can not be contacted. Pharmacy professors Heidi Bragg and May Woo offer this and additional medication-related preparedness tips, as well as how the new law offers a safety net for patients. For more information, contact Lisa Merkl at 713-743-8192 or lkmerkl@uh.edu to be connected with either professor.

PROPERTY DAMAGE: RECOUPING YOUR LOSSES
“It’s important to protect property from further damage, but those affected must also preserve the damages,” says Dan Jones, who has extensive experience in insurance and expertise in risk management. Jones is an executive professor in the Bauer College of Business, and he teaches classes in international risk and insurance, risk management, insurance operations and regulations, and energy insurance and risk management. Reach him at 713-743-4773 or djones@uh.edu.

THE ECONOMICS OF DISASTER RELIEF
Thomas DeGregori, professor of economics, has written the article “The Do’s and Don’ts of Disaster Relief,” which can be found at http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.630/news_detail.asp. He is an economic development expert, and has written about and been an adviser on disaster relief. Reach him at 713-743-3838 or trdegreg@uh.edu.

LIGHTS OUT! GETTING AROUND WITHOUT POWER
Luces Faulkenberry, UH associate professor of engineering technology, can share tips on what to do in the loss of electrical power. He also can address the dangers associated with downed power lines and submerged wiring. Reach him at 713-743-4079 or lmfaulkenberry@uh.edu.

TAKING A CANOE TO WORK? WHEN TO CALL IN SICK
Holly Hutchins, UH assistant professor of human development and consumer science, has conducted research on disaster preparedness in human resources. Hutchins can discuss the effects a hurricane will have on employees and employers, offer plans for maintaining contact with employers and shed insight on what to do when your place of employment has been destroyed. Reach her at hmhutchins@uh.edu or 713-743-8153.

A DIRECT HIT: WHAT WE’VE LEARNED IN 25 YEARS FROM ‘ALICIA’
Bill Dupre, associate professor of geosciences at UH, says that Hurricanes Alicia and Rita provide the best information about what we can expect for planning purposes. Alicia remains a model for what, on a small scale, we can expect on a large scale should we get a direct hit. Things have been exacerbated, however, by the continued relative sea-level rise and expanded development of beachfront homes along the shores of Galveston. For more information, Dupre can be reached at 713-743-3425 or wdupre@uh.edu after July 1.

KEEP ON TRUCKIN’: TRAFFIC FLOW ISSUES, SOLUTIONS
Joy Lloyd, director of the Transportation Policy and Logistics Center at UH, can discuss the challenges of sustaining transportation locally and nationally, and the possible breaches in homeland security in the event of a hurricane. Lloyd also can address the possible detriment to business logistics, imports, exports, and material handling and delivery. Reach her at 713-743-4114 or jlloyd3@uh.edu.

REPLENISHING GALVESTON’S BEACHES: A SISYPHEAN TASK
Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of professional geoscience programs at UH, says that while beach replenishment is touted to bring in tourist dollars, it is a very short-term solution to protect Galveston from hurricanes. With Galveston only 18 to 20 feet above sea level at its highest points, a Category 5 hurricane would likely exceed that elevation and remove all recent beach replenishment sands. A good case study illustrating this is Tropical storm Claudette making landfall at Matagorda Island in 2003. Less than a month prior, a replenishment project south of the Galveston Sea Wall was completed at the price of about $3 million. Estimates made days after this mere tropical storm landed hundreds of miles to the south suggested about one-third of the volume of that sand replenishment was removed. Reach him at 713-743-3423 or donvann@uh.edu.

RIGHT INSURANCE POLICIES KEY TO PROTECTION
Robert Schneller, director for environmental health and risk management at UH, can discuss what type of insurance is needed for hurricane coverage. He explains why residents in coastal counties need separate policies for windstorm damage, while it’s normally included in main homeowners policies for people inland. He also can talk about FEMA’s national flood insurance program, as well as offer tips on steps to take before a hurricane or tropical storm hits and what to do after if property damage is sustained. Reach him at 713-743-5868 or rdschneller@uh.edu.

GIVE US YOUR TIRED, YOUR WEARY: SHELTER FROM THE STORM
Hurricane Rita was an unwelcomed guest to the Texas Gulf Coast, but in times of crisis the hospitality industry recognizes a responsibility to those escaping the storm. Carl Boger, associate dean of academic programs for the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, can address how hotels manage the crisis for the weary traveler. Reach him at 713-743-2610 or cboger@central.uh.edu.

HEALTH LAW AND ORDER
The liabilities of volunteer physicians and nurses and quarantines in emergency shelters are among some of the many legal issues in health care that Richard Saver can discuss. He is an associate professor of law and co-director of the Health Law and Policy Institute at the UH Law Center. Reach him at 713-743-2263 or rsaver@central.uh.edu.

LESSER OF TWO EVILS: HOW TO MITIGATE THE DAMAGE
Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan, chair of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technologies, deals with how to mitigate damage to structures and pipelines on and offshore, and how to protect coastal areas during extreme weather conditions. Reach him at 713-743-4278 or cvipulanandan@uh.edu.

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