UF experts available for 2012 hurricane season

Published: May 23 2012


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With predictions of the 2012 hurricane season expected Thursday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the following University of Florida sources are available to speak to the news media about a variety of storm- and hurricane-related topics.


Extreme wind effects and wind-driven rain: Forrest Masters, assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering, can provide information on the hurricane wind field and damage to buildings. Masters coordinates experiments at landfall to monitor the intensity and structure of the storm, in addition to conducting destructive testing experiments in the laboratory to stimulate the effects of extreme loads and wind-borne debris. 352-392-9537, ext. 1505, masters@ce.ufl.edu.

How wind affects homes and buildings: David Prevatt, assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering, can discuss both present and past construction techniques in homes and buildings in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and what protections they offer against hurricanes. He can also explain how to retrofit older homes to make them more hurricane worthy, an important issue in Florida, where the majority of homes were built before the state’s most recent stringent hurricane codes were in place. One goal of Prevatt’s research is to develop performance-based wind engineering techniques for wood-framed low-rise construction. 352-392-9537 ext. 1495, dprev@ufl.edu.

Predicting storm surge: Don Slinn, an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering, researches the coastal impact of waves and flooding from hurricanes. He has helped to develop computer models that predict likely storm surge for Atlantic storms and examine effects of waves and flooding on beaches and buildings. 352- 392-9537, ext. 1431, slinn@coastal.ufl.edu.

Frequency and intensity of hurricanes: Corene Matyas, assistant professor of geography, investigates the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, their tendencies for certain landfall locations, their rainfall patterns, and the characteristics that affect hurricanes’ formation and life cycle. 352-392-0494, matyas@ufl.edu.


Hurricanes and the insurance industry: David Nye, emeritus professor of finance and insurance, can answer questions related to the insurance industry. 352-392-6649, dnye@ufl.edu.

Damage to water and wastewater systems: Carol Hinton and Ron Trygar, associate director and senior training specialist with the UF Center for Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupation, operate a statewide system that helps public water and wastewater utilities assist one another during emergencies. The system, called FlaWARN, consists of a secure Web-based data bank of available resources and a practical mutual aid agreement. It works by matching personnel with the necessary tools and equipment to assess and assist damaged water and wastewater systems as quickly as possible following a hurricane or other emergency. Carol Hinton 352-392-9570, ext. 209, chinton@treeo.ufl.edu; Ron Trygar 352-392-9570, ext. 215, rtrygar@treeo.ufl.edu.

Damage to electrical power systems: Ted Kury, director of energy studies for the Public Utility Research Center, has investigated the impact of severe storms on electrical power systems, including the economics of burying electrical lines. His research includes hurricane and hurricane-damage simulations, as well as gathering post-storm damage data. This research was conducted in collaboration with several Florida electric utility companies, co-operatives, and municipalities to address the gap in existing research on the economics and effects of strengthening electric infrastructure to better withstand storms. 352-392-7842, ted.kury@warrington.ufl.edu.

Barge vs. bridge accidents: Gary Consolazio, associate professor of civil engineering, has done extensive research on how to make bridges better able to withstand storm-related vessel impacts. 352-392-9537, ext. 1510, grc@ufl.edu.


Rebuilding/maintaining sand dunes: Deborah Miller, a professor of wildlife ecology and conservation based at UF’s West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton, has studied the best ways to rebuild sand dunes destroyed by hurricanes. 850-983-5216, ext. 104, dlmi@ufl.edu.

Hurricanes’ impact on beaches: Bob Dean, UF graduate research professor emeritus in civil and coastal engineering, is one of the nation’s leading experts on beach erosion and has studied the effects of several hurricanes on Florida’s beaches. He is also knowledgeable about sea-level rise and hurricanes. 352-392-9537, ext. 1430, dean@coastal.ufl.edu.

Tree protection: Ed Gilman, a professor with the environmental horticulture department, is an expert in tree health and storm damage to trees. He can address topics such as mitigation efforts, restoring trees following storms, tree replacement, pruning methods to reduce damage potential, preventive pruning strategies designed to protect homes and other personal property and evaluation of tree health after hurricanes. (cell) 352-262-9165, egilman@ufl.edu.


Hurricanes and pets/farm animals: John Haven directs the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s All Animals, All Hazards Disaster Response Team and has participated in animal care operations related to hurricanes, fires and disease outbreaks. He is also a member of the State Agriculture Response Team, coordinator for the State Veterinary Reserve Corps disaster response team, and an Incident Command System Instructor. 352-294-4254, ext. 3154, havenj@ufl.edu.

Hurricane cleanup and safety: Jimmie Hinze, professor of building construction and director of UF’s Center for Construction Safety and Loss Control, is an expert on construction safety. He can discuss the hazards and health threats that workers face during post-hurricane reconstruction and remediation efforts. 352-214-4798, hinze@ufl.edu.

How hurricanes affect communities: Anthony Oliver-Smith, retired professor of anthropology, has spent three decades studying the social impacts of disasters and how communities re-emerge from destruction. 352-377-8359, aros@ufl.edu.

Psychological impacts of hurricanes: Brenda Wiens, a clinical assistant professor and psychologist in the department of clinical and health psychology and the National Rural Behavioral Health Center, can speak about the mental health effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters. 352-273-5120, wiens@ufl.edu.

Demographic effects of hurricanes: Chris McCarty, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, can discuss how hurricanes prompt people to relocate, both temporarily and permanently. McCarty did a study of the 2004 hurricanes that found nearly 4.5 million Floridians evacuated their homes at one time or another during the summer. The study also estimated that 2.6 million of Florida’s 8.1 million housing units were damaged by the storms. McCarty co-authored a 1996 paper that found that Hurricane Andrew forced 353,000 Miami-Dade County residents from their homes temporarily and that almost 40,000 people left the county permanently as a result of the storm. McCarty can be reached 352-392-2908, ext. 101, ufchris@ufl.edu.


Jessica Oliver