210 Pittsboro Street
Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-6210

T 919-962-2091
F 919-962-2279

Tip Sheet

For immediate use 

No. 321

UNC faculty experts can help reporters
with hurricane-related issues as Emily advances

As Katrina spins and churns through the eastern United States, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty members are available to discuss hurricane-related topics.

Note: The area code for all is 919 unless otherwise indicated.

Dr. Peter Robinson, professor of geography in UNCís College of Arts and Sciences, also studies weather. Two years ago, after analyzing a centuryís worth of weather data across North Carolina , he concluded that the most intense hurricanes to strike the state were not associated with the worst flooding. Instead, they resulted from lingering tropical storms, back-to-back storms and even melting snow. UNC Press will publish his latest book, North Carolina Weather and Climate, this fall. In the 1970s, Robinson was North Carolina ís state climatologist. He can be reached at 962-3875 (office) or 280-9710 (home).

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Dr. Charles E. Konrad, associate professor of geography, studies climate, including hurricanes. He is especially interested in the relationship between atmospheric patterns such as circulation and moisture and weather events such as heavy rainfall, snowstorms, tornadoes and high winds. His work, which focuses on scales ranging from planetary events to local conditions, can be applied to weather forecasting. He can be reached at 962-3873 (office) or 380-1695 (home).

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Dr. Hans Paerl, William R. Kenan professor at UNCís Institute of Marine Sciences , studies the water quality and ecological ramifications of climatic disturbances, including hurricanes, on estuaries and coastal waters. He leads the UNC Institute of Marine Sciencesí Microbial Ecology-Nutrient Cycling Laboratory. Paerl has directed several studies to examine the short- and longer-term effects of hurricanes Dennis, Floyd and Irene on N.C. estuaries and the Pamlico Sound -- the nationís second largest estuary -- using ferries to conduct water quality monitoring ( He also heads a National Science Foundation Microbial Observatory study on long-term climatic effects on the microbial ecology and overall condition of lakes on San Salvador Island , Bahamas , which is located on the Atlantic "hurricane track" and was devastated last September by Hurricane Frances . He can be reached at (252) 723-9082 (cell) or

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Dr. Margaret S. Miles, professor at UNCís School of Nursing , has extensive experience studying and dealing with the mental health of natural disaster survivors and grief associated with the loss of family members. She participated as a volunteer in helping citizens of Grifton , N.C. , following Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and earlier was involved during the rescue operation of the Hyatt Hotel collapse in Kansas City and in the mental health follow-up among survivors. She can speak about the three phases of disaster -- pre-impact, impact and post-impact -- and how to help survivors cope with their resulting psychological reaction, including disillusionment in having lost an old way of life and reconstruction in moving forward. Contact her at 618-0086 or

David J. Brower, research professor in UNCís department of city and regional planning, researches growth management, coastal zone management, mitigating the impacts of natural hazards, sustainable development and environmental ethics. Besides research and teaching, Brower has worked extensively with local governments (especially on N.C.ís Outer Banks), and state and international governments, including Caribbean nations. He is co-author of "Catastrophic Coastal Storms: Hazard Mitigation and Development Management." He can be reached at 962-4775 or

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Dr. Seth Reice, associate professor of biology, is the author of "The Silver Lining: The Benefits of Natural Disasters," which details how storms, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and other apparently catastrophic events renew life and boost diversity in ecosystems throughout the world, often making them better for people and other species. His research has focused on streams and the effect of natural disturbances on environments viewed as stable. Contact him at 962-1375 or

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Dr. John Thomas Cooper Jr. is an associate at MDC Inc., an independent nonprofit research organization based in Chapel Hill , and manager of the Emergency Preparedness Demonstration Program (EPD), a new $1.5 million initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to increase disaster awareness and preparedness in disadvantaged areas. The EPD is being conducted through a partnership among FEMA, MDC and the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at UNC. A news release on the program can be found at: Cooper, who received his doctorate in city and regional planning from UNC in 2004, has researched how the disadvantaged are accounted for in emergency management and has taught a course on disastersí social impacts.  He worked with the N.C. Division of Emergency Management on the Princeville, N.C., Redevelopment Plan, commissioned by President Bill Clintonís Council on the Future of Princeville following Hurricane Floyd in 1999. He can be reached at 968-4531 or

Joanne Caye, assistant clinical professor in the School of Social Work , has taught classes on managing the effects of disasters on families and children. Additionally, she teaches students who plan to go into social work about how to help families and children deal with disasters and conflict. She is the co-author of a book titled "When Their World Falls Apart: Helping Families and Children Manage the Effects of Disasters." She and colleagues conducted workshops in eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Floyd on coping with disasters and tragedy. Contact info: or 962-3598.

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Dr. James Fraser, urban geographer and senior research associate with UNCís Center for Urban and Regional Studies, is principal investigator for a project, "Relocation and Decision-making of Natural Disaster Victims," which centers on buyout programs through which states purchase flood-prone homes from willing sellers. One of the issues addressed in the project is why some homeowners choose to participate in such programs and some donít. Four hundred people living in 100-year floodplains in Kinston and Greenville , N.C. , San Antonio , Tex. , and Grand Forks , N.D. , were interviewed by phone in one project component. Fraser also is principal investigator on a national project examining ďrepetitive loss propertiesĒ that experienced multiple floods and co-PI on another examining disadvantaged communities and disaster preparedness. He can be reached at 962-6835.

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Dr. Laurence B. Rosenfeld, professor of communication studies, is an expert on interpersonal and family communication. He is a nationally certified trainer of "helpers" -- people who go in after disasters to help victims like those who responded following Hurricane Floyd. He also has written a book on helping people manage disastersí effects. Call him at 962-4947.

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Jennifer Horney, assistant director of the N.C. Center for Public Health Preparedness, was involved in the response to hurricanes Isabel (2003) and Charley (2004), taking part in the rapid needs assessment following landfall and managing the center's Team Epi-Aid. This student volunteer group has also participated in the response to these hurricanes, as well as to a number of other public health emergencies statewide. The N.C. Center for Public Health Preparedness, housed in the UNC School of Public Healthís N.C. Institute of Public Health and department of epidemiology, is one of 20-plus such centers located at schools of public health nationwide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds the centers. Horney can be reached at 843-5566 (office), 260-6204 (cell) and 932-9458 (home).


News Services contacts: David Williamson, 962-8596, and Deborah Saine, 962-8415