As hurricane season approaches, UNT experts will discuss topics from response to recovery

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 18:57

Last week, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 13 to 20 named tropical storms for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Forecasters also said seven to 11 of those storms will become hurricanes, and three to six storms will become major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher. In 2012, four major storms made landfall in the U.S., including Hurricane Sandy.

Several University of North Texas faculty members are available to comment on topics related to the hurricane season, including preparedness, particularly on the Gulf Coast; response and recovery; the impact of hurricane warnings; and long-term records of hurricanes. The faculty members’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses are listed with their biographical information:

Nicole Dash, associate professor of sociology and associate dean of UNT’s College of Public Affairs and Community Service, can discuss long-term recovery of communities from hurricanes, response to hurricane warnings and how mobile home residents are affected by hurricanes.

Dash has conducted research on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She says research shows that the elderly and the poor – those who will be most vulnerable to hurricanes -- need to know what resources will be available from the local government. 

Dash, who was a graduate student at Florida International University in Miami when Hurricane Andrew struck the state, analyzed property tax data and census data for Miami-Dade County from 1990 to 2000 to study the recovery of communities impacted by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. She discovered that areas with large minority populations recovered slower than areas with predominantly Caucasian populations, and African-American areas fared far worse than Hispanic areas, which were predominantly Cuban. A  chapter of some of her findings appears in Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, Gender and the Sociology of Disasters, published by FIU's Laboratory for Social and Behavioral Research.

Office phone: 940-565-2230


Eliot Jennings is the director of UNT's Emergency Operations Center Lab, which trains students how to respond to emergencies. He can discuss the steps that the Gulf Coast should take to prepare for a storm, as well as the appropriate recovery and response steps. 

Jennings is also an instructor in the Emergency Administration and Disaster Planning degree program, which is part of UNT's nationally recognized Department of Public Administration. He was previously the operations and planning coordinator for Galveston County's Office of Emergency Management for four years.  He also served as the emergency management coordinator for the City of Galveston and later for Galveston County. Jennings was involved in preparing for and responding to five federal disaster declarations during his time in Galveston. He teaches introductory emergency management classes, response and recovery courses as well as EOC (Emergency Operations Center) courses.

Office phone:  940-369-8293
Cell phone:  940-395-7167


David McEntire, a professor in UNT's Emergency Administration and Disaster Planning Program, can discuss expertise in emergency management theory, disaster response, community preparedness, vulnerability reduction and international disasters. McEntire studied the impact of Hurricane Georges on the Dominican Republic after the hurricane hit in September 1998. He identified factors that contributed to the disaster and examined the disaster's effects on residents and response operations.

Office phone: 940-565-2996

Brian Sauser, associate director for research for UNT’s Center for Logistics Education and Research, can discuss the economic vulnerability of small businesses after disasters such as hurricanes and how their resiliency and recovery affects the economy.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are responsible for creating two out of every three jobs and employ half of the private sector workforce,” Sauser said. “They provide goods and services needed for continuous community vitality. Research and practice often overlook the impact of disaster on them.”

When a small or medium-sized business is hurt by a disaster, the disruption can impact families, other small and medium-sized businesses and the community as a whole.

“Conversely, communities typically lack an ability to limit and absorb hazards to assure an appropriate level of response,” Sauser said. “Thus, the ability of small- and medium-sized businesses to limit or absorb disruptions has a direct correlation to community health.

“The overarching goal of our research is to teach communities to be more resilient to hazards related to hurricanes by reducing the recovery time of small- and medium-sized businesses,” Sauser said.

Office phone: 940-565-4693


Harry F. Williams, professor of geography, will discuss how sediment left behind by hurricane storm surges can determine long-term records of hurricane strikes.

Since 2006, Williams has received more than $150,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation to research storm surge deposits in the U.S., including those left behind by Hurricane Rita in 2005, Hurricane Ike in 2008, Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Williams also studied ancient hurricane deposits in the Chenier Plain of southwest Louisiana. He recently received another National Science Foundation to research sediment left behind by tropical cyclones on Thailand’s east coast. Williams will be in Thailand for most of June and will be unavailable at that time.

Office phone: 940-565-3317


UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108