FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jill Elish, FSU Office of News & Research Communications (850) 644-8345; firstname.lastname@example.org
HURRICANE ANDREW 20 YEARS LATER: FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY FACULTY AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE EXPERT ANALYSIS
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Aug. 24 will mark the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s landfall in South Florida. One of just three Category 5 hurricanes to strike the United States in the past 160 years, this historic event changed the way Florida and the nation prepare, forecast andrespond to hurricanes. Several top national experts from Florida State University are prepared to offer their informed analyses on how Hurricane Andrew affected the region.
FORECASTING, FORMATION AND TRACKING
• Mark Bourassa, associate professor of meteorology, (850) 644-6923 or 645-4788; email@example.com Bourassa’s expertise is in the transfer of energy and momentum between the ocean and the atmosphere and remote sensing, particularly of surface winds. He also is interested in surface water waves and the identification of tropical disturbances, possible precursors to tropical cyclones. Recent work has involved remotely sensed estimates of the energy released in storms, as water vapor is converted to precipitation.
• James Elsner, professor of geography, (850) 877-4039; firstname.lastname@example.org Elsner is an expert on hurricanes and statistical models for long-range prediction. His research is on developing the science and technology for modeling the risk of a catastrophic storm along the nation’s coastline. He studies the relationship of hurricanes to climate factors including El Niño and global warming. His recent work compares hurricane activity along the Gulf Coast measured from historical and geological records, and he has developed a model for predicting the likelihood of economic losses.
“Although improvements in precisely forecasting hurricane intensity have only been modest over the past 20 years, it is likely that forecasters today would be able to better pinpoint the degree and extent of the overall destruction if an Andrew-type storm were to hit today,” Elsner said. “This is because even small improvements in intensity translate to fairly significant improvements in specifying overall damage losses.”
• T.N. Krishnamurti, emeritus Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Meteorology, (850) 644-2210; email@example.com Krishnamurti is an international expert in computer modeling in tropical meteorology and numerical weather prediction. He developed the Super Ensemble technique that collects forecasts made by a world community ofmodels and yields a best-consensus, long-range track, landfall and intensity forecast.
• Paul Ruscher, associate professor of meteorology, (850) 644-2752; firstname.lastname@example.org Ruscher studies coastal and boundary-layer meteorology. He also measures, monitors and studies coastal and offshore wind patterns in particular. During the past few years, many new high-density data sets and improved numerical models have become available that allow scientists to study complex coastalflow regimes, items of critical importance in situations of adverse or severe weather, pollution events such as oil spills, and ocean response to high winds. He can address questions about the models used to forecast winds, waves andcurrents, and the relative uncertainty related to the forecasts.
PREPAREDNESS, RESPONSE AND RECOVERY
• Earl J. “Jay” Baker, associate professor of geography, (850) 893-8993; email@example.com Baker is an expert on how people respond to warnings and evacuation orders and how emergency managers use forecasts to implement evacuation plans. Baker has researched vulnerability perceptions and hurricane preparedness of people on the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts. He recently completed surveys of Florida residents to be used in updating the state’s evacuation plans and to assess household preparedness for the aftermath of a hurricane. Baker conducted several studies in Miami-Dade County before and after Hurricane Andrew and was on the “Lewis Committee” appointed by Gov. Chiles following Andrew to improve emergency management capabilities in Florida.
• Audrey Heffron Casserleigh, director of Florida State’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program, (850) 644-9961; firstname.lastname@example.org Casserleigh is the director of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program at Florida State, where she also serves as director for the Center for Disaster Risk Policy. As director, Casserleigh manages the intersection of academic research and government practice and has worked on projects with agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Sciences and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Americans have faced a variety of disasters in the 20 years since Hurricane Andrew struck, and we were stronger because of the lessons we took from Andrew,” Casserleigh said. “This anniversary is an opportunity to remember what we’ve gained and to say, ‘We are committed to being ready.’”
RISK AND INSURANCE
• Patrick F. Maroney, the Kathryn Magee Kip Professor and director of the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center, (850) 644-8217; email@example.com Housed in the FSU College of Business, the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center engages in research and promotes collaboration with state and federal agencies and other universities in areas such as storm forecasting, building construction, disaster mitigation and risk management. Maroney can discuss property and casualty insurance, and insurance regulation.
“Prior to Hurricane Andrew, Florida’s property insurance market was similar to many other states in that the market was dominated by a few large multistate, multiline insurers,” Maroney said. “Following Andrew, insurers re-evaluated their books of business and reduced their exposure to catastrophes while Florida has continued to see substantial population growth and an increase to its exposure to catastrophic damage. These two trends have spurred a series of legislative, regulatory and insurer actions/reactions that have significantly altered the property insurance landscape in Florida.”
STRESS, TRAUMA AND GRIEF
• Wayne A. Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Management, (850) 644-7849; firstname.lastname@example.org Hochwarter has studied the long-term effects of stress on employees as they return to the workplace following a hurricane. Such effects include increased rates of depression and anxiety, higher incidences of interpersonal conflict at work, higher levels of organizational cynicism and increased rates of employee burnout. The ramifications for employers include higher rates of employee turnover, more absenteeism and reduced productivity.
“It’s important for employers to proactively prepare for hurricane season and anticipate the needs of their employees,” Hochwarter said. “The best thing employers can do is keep the lines of communication open and allow employees to play an active role in preparing the organization for hurricane season. There is a misperception that planning for a hurricane has value only if one hits. Certainly, nobody wants a hurricane, but I think it’s important for companies to know the benefits toplanning beyond simply dealing with the traumatic event.” ###