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We want to better understand the short-term and long-term impacts of flood events, and how households and communities recover from them. To do that, our team will combine knowledge and expertise to approach various related questions from different angles.

Modelling and Mapping Exposure to Risk

Communities in North Carolina’s coastal plain are vulnerable to flooding from extreme events involving excessive rainfall, storm surge, and increasingly the combination of both. This is known as compound flooding. A critical piece of this project is mapping exposures from past events by triangulating across two key sources of information: outputs from computational geophysical models and data collected remotely by satellites and airborne sensors.

We will combine these data and methods to develop a state-of-the-art approach to mapping flooding at the time of an extreme event, beginning with Hurricane Florence in 2018. By comparing output from geophysical models with output from flooding extent and intensity measures derived from remote sensing data, we will develop a highly accurate picture of the areas impacted from the recent hurricanes impacting eastern North Carolina.

Analysis of Administrative Data

A second part of our strategy for assembling data involves administrative data, which are generated through the operation of administrative systems, usually (but not exclusively) by public sector agencies. Though these data are not produced with the intent of supporting research, they can be useful for understanding how aggregate units (usually counties) change after a disaster, and more broadly to evaluate effectiveness of various programs.

In North Carolina, a number of different state-level agencies are responsible for planning for and responding to extreme events. These agencies sponsor many programs that attempt to prepare for, mitigate harm from, and organize recovery after extreme weather events. Experiences from hurricanes of the past several years — including Matthew, Florence, Michael, and Dorian — bring important lessons and opportunities to learn. In addition to government activities, non-governmental organizations also play an active role.

Because of the potential mismatch between the content of administrative records and the goal of producing estimates of impacts and outcomes for underlying populations, administrative records are often combined with data from censuses and surveys. For our purposes, data from the US censuses and the American Community Survey (ACS) will provide a fundamental resource for understanding population composition and change in eastern North Carolina. These data are accessible through the Federal Statistical Research Data Center (the Triangle Research Data Center).

Survey of Households

One of the best ways to learn about people’s experiences and thoughts is to talk to them directly. To this end, we are launching a survey in several communities affected by Hurricanes Matthew, Florence and Dorian. The first survey is planned to take place in Fall 2020. To learn more about our survey, click here.