News from the Bush School

Researchers Awarded NSF Grant to Study Hurricane Harvey Infrastructure and Planning Vulnerabilities

January 22, 2018

In August 2017, Houston suffered catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The National Science Foundation has funded a study by an interdisciplinary team of Texas A&M University researchers led by Dr. Ali Mostafavidarani in the Department of Civil Engineering. The team will include Dr. Arnold Vedlitz of the Bush School and Dr. Bryce Hannibal, who is a researcher at the Bush School’s Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy. The grant also funds researchers from the Department of Computer Science & Engineering, the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, and the Public Policy Research Institute.

The research will focus on ways to increase community resilience to disasters like Harvey by improving hazard mitigation planning and infrastructure development. Elements of the study will look at how the risks and vulnerabilities resulting from the interconnections among flood protection infrastructure, emergency response planning, and transportation systems affected the communities in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey.

Vedlitz and Hannibal will help conduct a survey of key agencies and stakeholders involved with various aspects of risk mitigation planning and response pertaining to infrastructure systems. The goal is to identify and assess the degree of coordination, conflict, and gaps in current planning efforts and response actions, since these elements may affect the infrastructure design and emergency processes for dealing with extreme events.

Vedlitz and Hannibal will use the survey data to model how inter-organizational dynamics and decision-making processes in human systems affect the management of interdependent flood protection, emergency response, and transportation infrastructure systems.

“We believe that our findings will help policymakers and stakeholders address the issues arising from interdependent response and recovery efforts so their communities can be more resilient to extreme weather events,” Vedlitz said.