As the second hurricane in a month makes landfall along the U.S. coast, West Virginia University experts are available to discuss how climate, sea level and land-use changes affect flooding in coastal watersheds, as well as the vulnerability and resilience of communities devastated by large-scale disasters. 

Omar Abdul-Aziz has developed hydrologic models to predict rainfall-fed freshwater flooding in large-scale coastal basins during extreme climate events.  

Omar I. Abdul-Aziz Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering WVU Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources [email protected]; 304.293.9929

“My model fills this science and engineering gap by factoring in complex land uses/cover, drainage network, low elevation, topography and shallow groundwater table to dynamically predict flooding from intense rainfalls throughout coastal Florida. As the frequency and intensity of hurricanes increase in the U.S. and around the world, we need more of these models to make accurate predictions of location-specific flooding in the large coastal regions of hurricane landfalls. This is crucial for the short-term avoidance through evacuations and long-term hazard mitigations through upgrading the critical coastal infrastructures.”

Michael Zakour lived through and wrote books about Hurricane Katrina. 

Michael Zakour Professor, School of Social Work WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences [email protected]; 304.293.3027

"For most of my career, I have conducted research on disaster social work, and I personally lived through Hurricane Katrina while living and teaching in New Orleans. Since 1991, I have published three books on disasters, both while at Tulane University and at West Virginia University. My new book, published this year, Creating Katrina, Rebuilding resilience. Lessons from New Orleans on vulnerability and resiliency, shows how vulnerability to disasters develops over many years. People’s vulnerability and their resilience are both influenced by what prevention and recovery resources are available to them. My 16 years in New Orleans, including my own experiences with Katrina, have enriched this book and my disaster research."

Michael Zakour audio file (1:09) 

Christopher Plein notes preparations for evacuation and immediate response are always a test for governments.  

Christopher Plein Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service, Dept. of Public Administration WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences [email protected]; 304.293.7974

“We should keep in mind the emergency preparedness by state and local governments, in alliance with federal agencies and nonprofits, is most often effective and responsive. What we are now finding, however, is that longer-term recovery efforts are testing the resilience of communities, the economy and public policy. Disaster management and recovery is a long-term process that requires a commitment of public resources, attention and capability.”  

Chris Plein audio file (0:42)  

Economist John Deskins adds communities affected by the severe weather may expect their economies to be distressed. 

John Deskins Director WVU Bureau of Business & Economic Research  [email protected]; 304.293.7876

“Major weather events have the potential to disrupt economic activity for the longer term, especially if the event severely damages infrastructure and housing. But it is very difficult to predict an event’s economic impact since circumstances can vary so widely. Often, we find that economies bounce back rather quickly after major events, a testament to how resilient our economy is. For instance, the West Virginia counties that were impacted by major flooding in our state in 2016 mostly returned to their normal economic trajectory within one or two quarters.”

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.

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