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UH Offers Experts on Hurricanes

UH Offers Experts on Hurricanes

Representing experts across various fields, University of Houston sources have expertise in an array of topics related to storms – before, during and after.

Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192

Taken by Storm: UH Offers Hurricane Experts

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June 17, 2009-Houston-
Hurricane Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States and left such an imprint as to be among the list of retired hurricane names for the annals. 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 a variety of fields.

If you are unable to reach a professor, call Lisa Merkl at 713-743-8192 or Marisa Ramirez at 713-743-8152.

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.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.

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, an associate professor 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.

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 and flew last fall in Hurricane Paloma. His team is rebuilding the device to make it sturdier, with plans to fly it on all the hurricane missions of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA this season. For more information, contact Lisa Merkl at 713-743-8192 or lkmerkl@uh.edu to be connected with Lawrence.

PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER: SAFETY NETS KEY FOR MEDICATION
Pharmacy professor Ray Hammond can offer tips on precautions people should take to ensure they have access to needed prescription medication during hurricanes or other natural disasters. He also can discuss a state law that can provide a safety net for patients, along with other medication-related preparedness tips. Reach him at 713-795-8337 or RayHammond@uh.edu.

EVACUATIONS: HOW TO RESPOND DURING AND AFTER THE STORM
Peter Bishop, UH associate professor of human development and consumer science, can discuss a strategic plan for evacuation and can explore the potential long-term economic and social repercussions of disasters. Bishop also can address changes in public policies and people’s behavior in the face of hurricanes, as well as society’s fears of natural disasters and how those fears trigger reactions such as the massive evacuation during Hurricane Rita. Reach him at 281-283-3323 or pbishop@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.

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.

PROPERTY DAMAGE: RECOUPING YOUR LOSSES
Dan Jones, an executive 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.

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.

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 713-743-8153 or hmhutchins@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.

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.

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.

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.

HOTELS AS A PORT IN THE STORM
Ed Carrette, the general manger of the Hilton University of Houston Hotel, was one of more than 20 hotel employees who worked around the clock during Hurricane Ike to ensure the safety and comfort of hotel guests. He has been part of hurricane preparations at many hotels, including the one at UH. Reach him at 713-743-2435 or Edward.Carrette@hilton.com.

HOW THE HOUSTON SHIP CHANNEL PREPARES AND HANDLES THREATS
Pat Bellamy, director of the Southwest Public Safety Technology Center and engineering professor at UH, can discuss how the Houston Ship Channel prepares for and handles the threat of hurricanes. Reach him at 713-743-1282 or pbellamy@uh.edu.

 



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