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2012 Hurricane Season: Tropical Storm Isaac Edition; University of South Carolina Faculty Experts List

Released: 24-Aug-2012 5:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of South Carolina
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2012 Hurricane Season: Tropical Storm Isaac edition

University of South Carolina faculty experts list

For reporters who are covering Tropical Storm Isaac, the University of South Carolina’s Office of News and Internal Communications has compiled a list of faculty experts, many of whom have conducted storm-related research along the Southeast and Gulf coasts. To arrange interviews, call the news contact listed with the entry. Availability over the next week is listed with each expert.

■ Impact of intense precipitation

In addition to high winds, the water that accompanies hurricanes can overwhelm a region. Geology professor Venkat Lakshmi, a hydrometeorology expert, can discuss the impact of intense precipitation. After Hurricane Katrina, Lakshmi conducted a study on flooding along the Gulf Coast and its impact. He can discuss flash floods and the seriousness of flash-flood advisories, coastal erosion when sediment is washed away, and how the horizontal movement of wind and water changes the landscape. Lakshmi contact information: 803-361-0415 (cell). (News contact: Steven Powell, 803-777-1923,
Availability: Weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Also available sporadically over the weekend and after hours by cell.

■ Levee breaches and closure procedures

Hanif Chaudhry, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Computing, has studied the levee breaches in New Orleans, the worst of which occurred at the 17th Street Canal. Chaudhry is director of a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation that leads an international research effort on modeling of flood hazards due to levee breach and dam failure. Chaudhry contact information: 803-413-0044 (cell). (News contact: Steven Powell, 803-777-1923,
Availability: Weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Also available sporadically over the weekend and after hours by cell.

■ Preparedness and policy

Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography, is considered one of the leading authorities in the world on emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and social vulnerability to manmade and natural disasters. She is frequently consulted by government agencies for her expertise in the roles of public agencies, such as FEMA and state emergency-preparedness offices, in handling disasters. As director of the university’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, one of the country’s top facilities for integrating hazards research with geospatial information, Cutter has done extensive grant-funded research on hurricane evacuations and how people decide whether to evacuate. Immediately after Katrina, she led a team of researchers who mapped storm-surge inundation along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable. Most recently, with funding from a National Science Foundation grant, she has teamed up with several colleagues to study social vulnerability and rebuilding along the Gulf Coast after Katrina. She completed a 2011 survey of South Carolina hurricane evacuation behavior for the Army Corps of Engineers and South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD). Cutter contact information: (News contact: Steven Powell, 803-777-1923,
Availability: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., except 9-10 a.m. Monday and Wednesday.

■ Recreating U.S. hurricane history

Cary Mock, an associate professor of geography and climatologist, has reconstructed a hurricane history for South Carolina and other areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as for typhoons in the Pacific Ocean. From studying old diaries, 18th- and 19th-century plantation records, newspapers, ship logbooks and early meteorological records, he has created a perspective on hurricanes during the last several hundred years, which, in turn, is leading to a better understanding of hurricane patterns and the relationships between hurricanes and global climate change. Mock, who teaches meteorology courses, also can discuss the meteorological characteristics, climate, tracks and forecasting aspects of hurricanes. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA. Mock contact information:, 803-787-6109 (home), 803-777-1211 (office; frequently there on weekends). (News contact: Steven Powell, 803-777-1923,
Availability: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with classes on Tuesday and Thursday that might cause brief delays in response time.

■ Bridge and building safety after storms

How do storms impact bridges and buildings? Paul Ziehl, associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, has significant experience with the design, post-event evaluation and remediation of reinforced concrete, steel, timber and fiber-reinforced polymer structures and systems, including bridges and buildings. He has additional experience and expertise in structural health monitoring of buildings and transportation systems. Ziehl contact information: 803-467-4030 (cell). (News contact: Steven Powell, 803-777-1923,
Availability: after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, all day Thursday and Friday.

■ Assessing storm surge and damage

Jerry Mitchell, director of the S.C. Geographic Alliance, can discuss the nature and dynamics of storm surge and how the vulnerability of communities is determined. Most recently, Mitchell, along with other university geography researchers, mapped storm-surge inundation from Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable. Mitchell contact information:, 803-777-2986 (office), 803-252-2702 (home). (News contact: Steven Powell, 803-777-1923,
Availability: Monday through Friday, with 1 to 3 p.m. the best window.

■ Retail and hospitality hurricane preparedness

Christian Stegmaier is an expert in hotel and restaurant law in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. He can discuss disaster planning preparedness, proper response following an emergency, and matters relating to the interruption of business/continuation of business. He can also talk about advising restaurants, hotels and convenience stores about the legal consequences resulting from price gouging following natural disasters. Stegmaier contact information:, 803-255-0454 (office). (News contact: Frenche Brewer, 803-777-3691,
Availability: Weekdays, contact by email for quickest response.


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