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Dr. Elaina Sutley and Team Conduct Post-Disaster Field Study

Monday, February 5, 2018

The study was funded by NIST, as part of a larger project that I am a part of. I had the opportunity to lead the field study. The larger task group consists of around 40 researchers and practitioners with expertise in structural engineering, economics, urban planning, and sociology. 21 of us went into the field for a total of 10 days. The study was in Lumberton, NC that experienced catastrophic flooding after Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Our team went in a month after Hurricane Matthew, and collected detailed data on damage and disruption. Just a week ago, we went back to collect data on recovery. Our second field study was unique for many reasons, and is very likely to change the way future post-disaster field studies are conducted in the future. There were many layers to our study (so an incredible effort on my part), including (1) community-level data collected through interviews with NC state emergency managers, Lumberton’s mayor and city planner, representatives from Lumberton’s water plant, and a representative from the Golden LEAF foundation who is charged with distributing the recovery funding; (2) school system data collected through interviews with a public relations officer, a superintendent, an internal auditor, the director of student services for the district, two principals, two school counselors, and a school custodian; (3) business interruption and recovery data collected through structured interviews (over 220 were conducted); (4) housing interruption and recovery data collected through structured interviews (over 270 were conducted); (5) data on the interdependencies and interactions between these various systems; (6) LiDAR scans of locations where the flood waters came in; (7) 42 miles of roadway scanned using 360-view cameras to capture physical progress in repair. No study has ever collected the detailed data we did on (1), (2), (3), (4), or (5). The trip was also successful in that we exceeded all of our data collection goals we set leading into the field work.

Our study will be published through a NIST report. The data will go into the development of some models, and the validation of other models, that will be incorporated into IN-CORE. IN-CORE is the end-product of our larger project. It is an in-production web application intended for researchers, and possibly one day for communities, to use to measure and improve disaster resilience of cities in the US.



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