Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group (EISG) Economics is co-sponsoring a webinar with Economics and Benefits Analysis specialty group on Decision-Making During A Syndemic: Evacuation and Sheltering in Response to Hurricane Laura
In August 2020, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm, heavily affecting the coastlines of Texas and Louisiana. At the same time, both areas were coping with a surge in COVID-19 cases absent a vaccine. For this study, we explored how emergency management stakeholders navigated evacuation, sheltering, and re-entry planning and decision-making during a dual hazard threat where hurricane risk reduction measures contradicted COVID-19 risk reduction measures. We conducted 35 semi-structured interviews with emergency management stakeholders in Texas and Louisiana in the spring of 2021. Participants were recruited using a purposive sampling strategy designed to identify agency representatives and other officials involved in Hurricane Laura response. We used thematic analysis to code and analyze the data. Three themes emerged from the data. First, while the process for planning for hurricanes had to shift to an online approach, the plan for addressing hurricane season was largely unchanged from the perspective of most participants until days before impact when the decision was made to move to noncongregate sheltering. Second, emergency management stakeholders often described balancing the risks presented by COVID-19 and the hurricane as a series of trade-offs that they had to weigh, and households had to consider. Third, due to the shift to noncongregate sheltering and challenges presented by both COVID-19 and the hurricane, communicating with evacuees presented unanticipated challenges that required improvisation to address. Given the continued threat posed by COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses, this study provides insights that emergency management stakeholders could apply to current and future planning and response efforts for hazards that require evacuation and sheltering.
Name: Jingya Wang
School: Purdue University
Department: Industrial Engineering
Advisor: Professor David Johnson
Jingya Wang is the 2021 winner of the Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group’s Student Merit Award. Her presentation entitled “Incorporating Learning into Direct Policy Search to Identify More Adaptive Strategies for Flood Risk Management” can be viewed here. Congratulations!
We are also featuring her as a student spotlight, with her answers to our questions below:
Briefly describe your research and the impact it may have:
My research aims to make risk-based decisions for adapting systems in response to the changing conditions. I am dedicated to developing models and algorithms to unveil the underlying risks and better reflect the real world to protect people.
How did you become interested in infrastructure and risk analysis?
I’ve been seeing how people are affected by the flood risk as my hometown is in a delta. Then I majored in social work and engineering management (in civil engineering direction). Combining all these makes me highly motivated to learn more about risk analysis and infrastructure so that people can live a less risker life.
How has SRA contributed to your growth as a researcher?
SRA provides me an excellent platform to obtain what other experts are researching and get feedback from them. Attending the SRA 2021 annual meeting gives me a lot of inspiration and makes me further determined to stay in academia.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the future?
I plan to stay in academia, staying passionate about my research and mentoring students to develop their skills and investigate problems or ideas that make them excited.
What is one topic in risk that you’re not working on, but wish you were?
Risk management in health care.
When you’re not doing research, you are…
With my two adorable cats. I love painting and playing the piano while they are snuggling up to me. You can also find me climbing and skiing when I am not home.
Previous Student Spotlights:
Name: Debora Maia Silva
School: Purdue University
Department: Environmental and Ecological Engineering
Advisor: Professor Roshanak Nateghi
Debora (Debs) Maia Silva is the 2020 winner of the Engineering and Infrastructure Specialty Group Student Merit Award. She won based on her excellent submission for her video presentation entitled “The Goldilocks Zone in Cooling Demand: what can we do better?”