The Compounding Dangers of the Virus and Natural Disasters

As Hurricane Laura intensified into a Category 4 storm, public officials had to make decisions about evacuation during a time of sheltering in place. Researchers at Texas A&M University developed a risk index to guide decisionmaking processes.

August 28, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


Hurricanes

Darwin Brandis / Shutterstock

Ali Mostafavi, associate professor of civil engineering, is working with a team of researchers at the Texas A&M University UrbanResilience.AI Lab to examine the relationship between "urban infrastructure and people and systems in disasters."

Mostafavi's recent article in The Conversation describes the team's research on compounding risk factors like COVID-19, wildfires in the West, and storm preparation and the potential need for evacuation in the South. The research aims to understand which areas are the most vulnerable to these commingling events through a compound hazard risk index. 

The research and risk index are meant to help public officials make data-informed decisions about evacuation and hazard mitigation. "Our research shows that compound disasters have complex ramifications. At the intersection of a natural hazard and a pandemic is a decision process fraught with contradictions," writes Mostafavi.

Mostafavi continues by explaining that "using data on social vulnerability, pandemic risk and hazard probability, my lab created an interactive map that pinpoints sources of vulnerability. The goal is to enable disaster response managers and decision makers to recognize the compound risks posed by the confluence of the pandemic and any natural hazard."

As officials prepare for and respond to natural hazards, Mostafavi's team continues to contribute to the conversation and highlight the areas that are most at risk.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020 in The Conversation

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune

A screengrab of the Caharlotte Future virtual open house.

Top Websites for Urban Planning – 2021

Planetizen's annual list of the best of the urban planning Internet.

October 25, 2021 - James Brasuell

GIS Mobile App

Survey: What Mobile Apps Are Most Useful for Planning in 2021?

Planetizen is requesting your input in creating the definitive list of mobile apps for professional, student, academic, or citizen planners—updated for a planning profession forever altered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

October 18, 2021 - Planetizen

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.