Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

September 12, 2005

Contact: Angie Joe
713.743.8153 (office)
713.617.7138 (pager)


Following one of the most catastrophic disasters in U.S. history, many legal, health, economic and social questions are being raised. As you consider story ideas about Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, keep in mind these resources from the University of Houston. For more information, or if you are unable to reach a professor, give us a call at 713-743-8153.

The Financial Storm After the Hurricanes
Following Katrina and Rita, a third storm, which will prove as financially devastating to Gulf Coast residents, looms. Howard Karger, author of “Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy,” predicts a credit crisis of major proportions and the need for debt and federal bankruptcy reform. “Hurricane survivors face a daunting-enough future without further impeding their efforts to rebuild their lives by imposing punitive bankruptcy reform coupled with the inflexibility of credit card companies and other lenders,” says Karger. The UH professor of social work can be reached at 713-743-8135 or

Engineering Better Structural Outcomes After Hurricanes
Cumaraswamy Vipulanandan, chair of civil and environmental engineering, deals with the structural damages to bridges and other concrete structures due to long exposures to water and other corrosives. In his lab, he also is developing chemicals to clean toxic waste sites. Vipulanandan can be reached at 713-743-4278 or Bill Dupre, associate professor of geosciences at UH, also can address large oil spills resulting from the erosion and rupture of pipelines and can be reached at 713-743-3425 or

How Did the Oil Rigs Fare?
Su Su Wang, Distinguished University Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Composites Engineering and Applications Center at UH, focuses on new applications for polymeric composites in offshore and onshore operations where traditional materials have performance and economic limitations. He can talk about the damage to oil rigs resulting from Hurricane Katrina and what research is being done for the future betterment of these rigs. Wang can be reached at 713-743-4515 or

Wade in the Water
Mud tracks from the toxic swamp that is New Orleans eventually may lead to courtroom. Victor Flatt, professor of law and A.L. O’Quinn Chair in Environmental Law, can discuss environmental law actions that may surface following such a disaster and the recourses that residents and the city may have as they struggle to find a life that is back to normal. He can be reached at 713-743-2155 or

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink
The toxic flood waters in New Orleans hold many murky secrets. UH’s team of civil and environmental engineers can shed plenty of light on what may lay deep within and how to deal with it. Flooding experts can discuss the environmental effects, dealing with contaminated water and cleaning the drinking water, as well as address possible toxins in the water and the natural recovery of the environment from contamination. For more information, call or e-mail Lisa Merkl at 713-743-8192 or to be connected with the appropriate expert.

Health Law and Order
The liabilities of volunteer physicians and nurses, quarantines in emergency shelters, evacuees’ eligibility in the Texas Medicaid program, and hospitals turning evacuees away because of overcrowding are among some of the many legal issues in healthcare that Richard Saver can discuss. He is an assistant professor of law and affiliated with the Health, Law and Policy Institute. Saver can be reached at 713-743-2263 or

Building Blocks of New Orleans
New Orleans architecture reflected not only its own flair, but also its diverse history. UH Architecture professor and Crescent City native Thomas Colbert speaks about the history and design of the city’s architecture, and of the historic loss. Reach him at 713-743-2380 or

The Economics of Disaster Relief
Tom DeGregori, professor of economics, has written the article “The Do’s and Don’ts of Disaster Relief,” which can be found at: He is an economic development expert, and has written about and been an advisor on disaster relief. DeGregori can be reached at 713-743-3838 or

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. Jones can be reached at

Bet on a Safe Port
The billion dollar casino industry of the southern Gulf Coast will have to seek safe port until the industry can recover. James Wortman, director of the Gaming Education and Research Institute, addresses issues regarding the redevelopment of the industry along the Gulf Coast and the areas which stand to flourish in the meantime. Reach him at 713-743-2444 or

Owning the New Orleans
The redevelopment of New Orleans neighborhoods will require not only urban planning, but lobbying efforts from committed residents. Susan Rodgers, visiting professor in the College of Architecture, has provided guidance for local efforts to rebuild urban neighborhoods. Reach her at 713-743-2403 or

Is Galveston Next on the List?
Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of petroleum 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 Five hurricane would likely exceed that elevation and remove all recent beach replenishment sands. For more information, call or e-mail Van Nieuwenhuise at 713-743-3423 or Bill Dupre, an associate professor of geosciences at UH, also can comment about the impact on the upper Texas coast. Dupre can be reached at 713-743-3425 or

New Taste of New Orleans
The distinct culture and flavor on New Orleans may be diluted or altered as the city population temporarily settles in other areas for extended periods. James Conyers, Director of African American Studies at UH addresses the issue of cultural and sociological destruction after the hurricane. Reach him at 713-743-2813 or

Tuned in
Local and national musicians are holding benefit performances to raise money for Katrina relief. Meanwhile, some evacuees are trying to keep their spirits high by playing instruments or singing in shelters. Joe Kotarba, professor of sociology, can discuss why music can be a coping mechanism after a time of crisis. He can be contacted at 713-743-3954 or

Lost in Career Transition
As evacuees try to rebuild their lives, their first step is seeking out new jobs and careers. Katy Greenwood, associate professor of human development and consumer sciences, can discuss the challenges faced by adults who have lost their jobs or who are in career transitions. She can be reached at 713-743-4093 or

For more information about UH’s response to Hurricane Katrina, go to

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