UF experts available for the 2013 hurricane season

Published: May 28 2013


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Experts predict a stormy hurricane season, which officially starts Saturday.

The following University of Florida sources are available to speak to news media about a range of storm- and hurricane-related topics:


Extreme wind effects and wind-driven rain: Forrest Masters, associate 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.

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, associate 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.


How to prevent wind damage to homes and buildings: David O. Prevatt, assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering, can discuss present and past construction techniques in homes and buildings in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and what protections they offer against hurricanes. With his forensic engineering background, he can discuss first-hand the damage that occurs to buildings in hurricanes and tornadoes, in the United States and also in developing countries. As a professional engineer and member of the ASCE 7-16 Design Wind Load Task Committee, he can also explain how upcoming code changes would affect future structural designs and best-practices to retrofit light-framed wood structures to make them more hurricane-resistant. Prevatt’s current work is devoted to understanding the requirements of tornado-resilient communities and reducing annual losses from these extreme wind events. 352-392-9537 ext. 1495, dprev@ufl.edu, www.davidoprevatt.com

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, respectively, 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. 352-392-2908, ext. 101, ufchris@ufl.edu.

Hurricanes, natural disasters and insurance: Robert Jerry, dean of the UF Levin College of Law and Levin Mabie & Levin Professor of Law, has devoted his teaching and scholarship to the areas of insurance law, contracts, health insurance, and health care finance and access. He has co-authored three textbooks focused on the intricacies of understanding insurance law in addition to numerous law review articles, essays and book chapters on the topic. 352-273-0603, jerryr@law.ufl.edu.

Hurricane and other natural disaster preparation: Mike Spranger, a professor in family, youth and community sciences, can give tips on how to prepare for any kind of natural disaster. He adapted a Gulfwide version of the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards for Florida residents. The book has basic background on tornados, tropical storms, hurricanes, floods and wildfires, and covers everything from, hurricane clips to what to keep in your pantry and what to take with you during an evacuation. 352-273-3557, spranger@ufl.edu