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Tip Sheet

For immediate use

Aug. 25, 2006 -- No. 392

UNC faculty experts can help reporters
with hurricane anniversary, hurricane season stories

One year after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, the lives of thousands of people are still in disarray. This first anniversary offers not only a chance to look back but an opportunity to examine the lessons learned.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty can discuss the anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and disaster-related topics including:

On the Web: To read a feature article on contributions to disaster recovery and analysis by Carolina faculty, staff and students, click on:

Katrina assessment, recovery, economy and jobs

Dr. Richard Luettich, professor and director of UNC's Institute of Marine Sciences.
In response to Katrina, served on the National Academy of Engineering's committee that is reviewing New Orleans's regional hurricane protection projects. Luettich used computer modeling to predict the storm surge in the days leading up to Katrina's landfall. The model is now being used to design future hurricane protection systems for the region. Luettich would prefer that the Mississippi be allowed to flow its natural course. He can be reached at (252) 726-6841, ext. 137.

More info on Luettich:
The National Academy of Sciences report:

Post-disaster city, regional planning

Dr. David H. Moreau, professor of city and regional planning in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences, researches water quality issues and has extensive knowledge of the New Orleans' area levee system. In 2006, he was appointed to the Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects, a peer review committee of 16 experts sanctioned by the National Academies' National Research Council. The committee will review the work of two task forces being led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers, respectively. Moreau is knowledgeable about environmental quality assessment and water resources, planning and management of urban water systems and water-based natural disasters. Moreau serves as chairman of the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission. He can be reached at 962-4756 or

More info on Moreau:

Land use planning and policy

David J. Brower, research professor in UNC's department of city and regional planning, studies growth management, coastal zone management, mitigating the impacts of natural hazards, sustainable development and environmental ethics. Brower has worked extensively with local governments (especially on N.C.'s 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

More info on Brower:

Relocating residents of flood zones

Dr. James Fraser, urban geographer and senior research associate with UNC's Center for Urban and Regional Studies, is principal investigator for a project 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 don't. Fraser and his colleagues interviewed 400 people living in 100-year floodplains in Kinston and Greenville, N.C.; San Antonio, Texas; and Grand Forks, N.D., for one project component. Fraser also is principal investigator on a national project examining "repetitive loss properties" that experienced multiple floods and co-PI on a project studying disadvantaged communities and disaster preparedness. He can be reached at 962-6835.

Photo and more info on Fraser:

Environmental effects

Climate change and hurricanes

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).

Photo and more info on Konrad:

Health of coastal waters, estuaries after hurricanes

Dr. Hans Paerl, William R. Kenan professor at UNC's 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 Sciences' 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 nation's 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

More info on Paerl:

Benefits of natural disasters to ecosystems

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

Photo and more info on Reice:

North Carolina hurricanes

Dr. Peter Robinson, professor of geography in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences, studies weather patterns. Two years ago, after analyzing a century's 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. Robinson's latest book, "North Carolina Weather and Climate," was published in fall 2005. In the 1970s, Robinson was North Carolina's state climatologist. He can be reached at 962-3875 (office) or 280-9710 (home).

Photo and more info on Robinson:

Hurricane readiness and response

Emergency preparedness

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. Cooper, who received his doctorate in city and regional planning from UNC in 2004, studies how the disadvantaged are accounted for in emergency management and has taught a course on disasters' social impacts. He worked with the N.C. Division of Emergency Management on the Princeville, N.C., redevelopment plan, commissioned following Hurricane Floyd in 1999. He can be reached at 968-4531 or

More info on Cooper: A news release on the program can be found at:

Emergency response

Bill Gentry, a lecturer with UNC's School of Public Health, led Mississippi's volunteer animal rescue efforts post-Katrina. Gentry, director of the school's certificate program in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management, operated out of Hattiesburg with a 12-person team to coordinate efforts with Mississippi's Board of Animal Health. The team coordinated the delivery of all supplies, medicine and veterinary care for animal shelters and local clinics affected by the hurricane, among other roles. Other responsibilities included managing all of the donated goods that arrived nationwide. Gentry can be reached at 966-4288 (office) or

More info on Gentry: A news release on the program can be found at:

UNC Medical Center team: As part of the response to Hurricane Katrina, a team of UNC Hospitals physicians and staff traveled to the Gulf Coast as members of the MidCarolina Trauma RAC's State Medical Assistance Team II. The team created a blog (Web log) to document their experience. The volunteers included Dr. Preston "Chip" Rich, chief of trauma in the department of surgery, and Dr. Wes Wallace, of the department of emergency medicine. Note: Stephanie Crayton can assist with interview requests, 966-2860 or

More info: To read the UNC Hospitals' Hurricane Katrina Response blog, visit

Jennifer Horney, assistant director of the N.C. Center for Public Health Preparedness, was involved in the response to hurricanes Isabel (2003), Charley (2004), Katrina (2005), and Wilma (2005) 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 Health's N.C. Institute of Public Health and department of epidemiology, is one of 27 such centers located at schools of public health nationwide. The CDC funds the centers. Horney can be reached at 843-5566 (office), 260-6204 (cell) and 932-9458 (home).

Physical and mental health

Study: Dislocated healthcare workers

Dr. Thomas C. Ricketts, professor of health policy and administration in UNC's School of Public Health, lead a study showing that Hurricane Katrina dislocated up to 5,944 active, patient-care physicians. That is the largest single displacement of doctors in U.S. history. The number displaced also was more than one-quarter of the total number of new physicians who start practice in the United States each year, said Ricketts, deputy director for policy analysis at UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.
More info on Ricketts: A news release on the study can be found at:

Health policy

Dr. William Roper, professor of pediatrics and medicine and dean of the UNC School of Medicine, professor of health policy and public administration in the School of Public Health, CEO of UNC Health Care and vice chancellor for medical affairs. Among his areas of expertise are national public health policy, bioterrorism threats to the U.S., government mobilization in time of crisis, health care access and funding and public health preparedness. Roper is a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), served on the senior White House staff and was administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Note: Les Lang can assist with interview requests, 843-9687 or

Photos and more info on Roper:

Infectious diseases, epidemiology

Dr. Mark Sobsey, professor of environmental sciences and engineering in the UNC School of Public Health, can discuss infectious diseases and environmental health, foodborne and airborne disease risks, food safety and water treatment. He often consults with municipalities - including New York City - on how to address waste problems in water supplies. His research in part involves identifying and treating waste contamination of water. Recently, he was an advisor to the World Health Organization on scientific and technical matters concerning water, sanitation and health, with a focus on drinking water and SARS. A recipient of a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Research Career Development Award, Sobsey can be reached at or 966-7303.

Photo and more info on Robinson:

Dr. David Weber, professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the UNC School of Medicine and director of UNC Hospital's departments of hospital epidemiology and occupational health. Weber is associate director of UNC Hospitals' Statewide Program in Infection Control and Epidemiology. His areas of expertise include coronaviruses, HIV and AIDS, infectious diseases, bioterrorism threat to the U.S. and sexually transmitted diseases. He can be reached at 347-0639 (pager) or
Note: Stephanie Crayton can assist with interview requests, 966-2860 or

Photo and more info on Weber:

Community-based healthcare, nutrition, women's health

Dr. Margaret Bentley, professor of nutrition and associate dean for global health in UNC's School of Public Health, is a medical anthropologist whose research focuses on women and infant's nutrition, infant and child feeding, prevention and management of diarrheal diseases, behavioral research on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and community-based interventions for nutrition and health. Among other projects overseas, she directs a five-year study to examine risk factors for pediatric obesity in North Carolina. Bentley can be reached at or 843-9962 and 966-9575.

More info on Bentley:

Coping with disaster

Joanne Caye, assistant clinical professor in UNC's School of Social Work teaches students how to help families and children deal with disasters and conflict. She is the co-author of "When Their World Falls Apart: Helping Families and Children Manage the Effects of Disasters." After Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Caye and colleagues conducted workshops in eastern North Carolina coping with disasters and tragedy. She can be reached at or 962-3598.

Photo and more info on Caye:

Dr. Margaret S. Miles, professor at UNC's 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. As a volunteer, she helped citizens of Grifton, N.C., following Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Miles was involved in the rescue operation of the Hyatt Hotel collapse in Kansas City and 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 reactions, including disillusionment in having lost an old way of life and reconstruction in moving forward. Miles can be reached at 618-0086 or

More info on Miles:

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 disasters' effects. Call him at 962-4947.
More info on Rosenfeld:

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