Hurricane Experts Take UH by Storm

Lisa Merkl

lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192

June 2010-Houston-

With predictions for a more active hurricane season this year, an array of University of Houston researchers are available to address topics ranging from preparation to fall out, as well as various research endeavors.  As you consider stories for your coverage of this year's hurricanes and tropical storms, be prepared with these resources from UH representing experts across a variety of fields.  If you are unable to reach a professor, call 713-743-8192. 

POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF GULF COAST OIL SPILL ON HURRICANES
Through his experience as a production geologist and his research on the impact of hurricanes on the Texas coast, Donald Van Nieuwenhuise understands both the lengthy process of drilling relief wells and the potential impact of oil approaching the Texas Coast.  This is particularly timely due to anticipated hurricane activity while a relief well is being drilled, and the fact that most hurricanes entering Texas waters create a westerly longshore current.  Reach him at 713-743-3423 or donvann@uh.edu


KEEPING ANXIETIES AT BAY
For many Houston-area residents who survived the living nightmare that was Hurricane Ike, another round of storms brings with it another round of anxieties.  Peter Norton, a clinical psychologist and associate professor who runs UH's Anxiety Disorder Clinic, works on the front lines of treatment and research.  Reach him at 713-743-8675 or pnorton@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 can explain why residents in coastal counties need separate policies for windstorm damage.  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.eduCLICK HERE FOR INTERVIEW WITH MR. SCHNELLER 


HOTELS AS A PORT IN THE STORM
Fernando Cuéllar, the new general manager of the Hilton University of Houston, has 40 years of experience in the industry.  He rode out Hurricane Rita in 2005 as the general manager of the Renaissance Hotel in Greenway Plaza with 185 guests and employees, as well as 30 pets. He helped make a shelter out of one of the ballrooms, supplying it with bottled water and snacks, where they waited till the winds died down.  In 2008, he weathered Hurricane Gustav in New Orleans as the general manager of the Marriott Hotel in Metairie, by Lake Pontchartrain, where he also hosted several police officers from the parish and the Army Corp of Engineers. Reach him at 713-743-2435 or cfcuella@central.uh.edu

TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT: FOOD SAFETY WHEN POWER IS OUT
Jay Neal and Nancy Graves, both professors with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, 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 Graves at 713-743-2426 or nsgraves@central.uh.edu and Neal at 713-743-2652 or jneal@central.uh.edu

PREDICTING HURRICANES WITH ANCIENT HISTORY
One of UH geologist Donald Van Nieuwenhuise's current research areas includes projects on the impact of hurricanes on coastal sedimentary deposits. The goals of these projects are to better identify ancient hurricanes and their storm surge magnitude in their sediment and ancient rock record. Ultimately, he hopes to develop tools to acquire a better understanding of the history of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere prior to meteorological records. Reach him at 713-743-3423 or donvann@uh.edu.

WORTH HIS SALT: STORM CHASER TACKLES HURRICANES
James Lawrence, UH associate professor of geosciences, has developed an innovative 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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) P3 research aircraft.  The plan is to fly it on all the hurricane missions of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA this coming 2010 season.  For more information, contact Lisa Merkl at 713-743-8192 or lkmerkl@uh.edu to be connected with Lawrence. 

PROPERTY DAMAGE: RECOUPING YOUR LOSSES
Dan Jones, a clinical assistant professor in the Bauer College of Business, has extensive experience in insurance and expertise in risk management.  He can speak about steps property owners should take following a natural disaster.  Reach him at 713-743-4773 or djones@uh.edu

LEGAL MATTERS ASSOCIATED WITH STORMS
Richard Alderman with the UH Law Center can discuss topics such as price gouging before hurricanes and consumer complaints about repairs, landlords, insurance issues and other legal matters involving damage to homes, trees and businesses in the aftermath of a storm.  Reach him at 713-743-2165 or ralderman@central.uh.edu


WHAT TO DO ABOUT WORK IN CASE OF CRISIS
Holly Hutchins, UH assistant professor of human development and consumer science, can discuss the effects a hurricane will have on employees, such as maintaining contact with employers and what to do when their place of employment has been destroyed.  She also can address issues that face employers, including the areas of crisis management training and post-crisis learning.  Reach her at hmhutchins@uh.edu or 713-743-8153. 

RAPID RECOVERY: HOW TO MITIGATE THE DAMAGE AND PLAN FOR RECOVERY
Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology, deals with how to mitigate damages to structures and pipelines onshore and offshore, and how to protect coastal areas during extreme weather conditions.  A multi-infrastructural model for coordinating the efforts of various entities for rapid recovery after a hurricane or a major disaster is being developed.  Reach him at 713-743-4278 or cvipulanandan@uh.eduCLICK HERE TO WATCH INTERVIEW WITH PROF. 'VIPU'

GIVE US YOUR TIRED, YOUR WEARY: SHELTER FROM THE STORM
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

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 short-term solution to protect Galveston from hurricanes.  He can discuss past sand replenishment efforts, including what occurred with Hurricane Ike, and explain why even a Category 2 hurricane could easily remove all beach replenishment sands.  Reach him at 713-743-3423 or donvann@uh.edu

SURVIVORS STRUGGLING WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS

While it will take years to fully understand Hurricane Ike's profound effects on locals' mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) likely will play a significant role.  Patrick Bordnick, a professor and director of the Virtual Reality Clinical Research Lab www.uh.edu/vrcrl at the UH Graduate College of Social Work, runs a lab equipped with a storm simulator used to treat those with PTSD and also has treated patients with general storm phobias.  Reach him at 713-743-2086 or bordnick@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