Natural Disasters

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Losses resulting from natural hazards—including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires—cost billions of dollars each year. RAND research has shown how long-term loss-reduction strategies and disaster preparedness could improve the resilience of communities and infrastructure in the face of natural disasters, resulting in less property damage and reduced rebuilding costs.

  • Flood waters from Hurricane Isaac partially submerge homes in Lafitte, Louisiana neighborhoods in August 2012, photo by Sean Gardner/Reuters

    Commentary

    Future of Coastal Flooding

    Feb 25, 2015

    President Obama's executive order that directs federal agencies to plan and build for higher flood levels as they construct new projects in flood-prone regions will affect hundreds of billions of dollars of future public works projects. In an ideal world, planners would estimate the benefits and costs for each project, taking into account everything from the details of the local landscape to the potential for adaptive responses over time.

  • Louisiana coast and levy

    Report

    Tools Can Help Policymakers Increase Coastal Resilience to Rising Seas and Storm Surge

    Feb 21, 2014

    Two key analytic tools can be used to evaluate how coastal protection and restoration decisions made now will play out over time, even given an uncertain future. For example, a community weighing whether to implement a marsh-building project can see how the project fares against different rates of rising sea levels over time.

Explore Natural Hazards

  • Brazilian Army soldiers take part in a simulation of decontamination of multiple victims during a training against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, March 11, 2016

    Commentary

    ISIS and Dirty Bombs

    There has been growing concern that terrorists might use radiological sources to create a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD). Calculations have shown that an attack would be unlikely to produce radioactive contamination sufficient to kill or even injure anyone, but there would be psychological and economic effects.

    Jun 3, 2016

  • Report

    Collaborative Disaster Preparedness: Vietnam, the United States, and Regional Experiences (Proceedings from Da Nang, Vietnam, August 18–20, 2015)

    This report summarizes the workshop on Collaborative Disaster Preparedness that was conducted in August 2015 in Da Nang, Vietnam, and hosted by the Collaborative & Adaptive Security Initiative.

    May 19, 2016

  • Flood gates open on the Morganza Floodway, Louisiana

    Content

    Fischbach Discusses Current and Future Coastal Flood Risk in New Orleans and South Louisiana

    RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center co-director Jordan Fischbach led a seminar for the Sustainable Climate Risk Management network on current and future flood risk in New Orleans and South Louisiana.

    Apr 7, 2016

  • Tool

    The Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey: Overview, User's Guide, and Codebook

    Documentation for the 2009-2010 Displaced New Orleans Residents Survey (DNORS), a study of individuals and families who resided in New Orleans, Louisiana, prior to Hurricane Katrina. DNORS assessed medium-term outcomes five years after the hurricane.

    Mar 14, 2016

  • The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, August 25, 2015

    Report

    Exploring Funding Allocations to Best Support Louisiana's Flood Risk and Resilience

    States that have recently experienced a presidentially declared major disaster can apply for funds through the Natural Disaster Resilience Competition. For Louisiana's application, RAND provided a quantitative analysis of baseline flood risks under different amounts of investment in three parishes.

    Mar 1, 2016

  • Journal Article

    Bias and Efficiency Tradeoffs in the Selection of Storm Suites Used to Estimate Flood Risk

    This study examines methods for estimating storm surges and flood statistics.

    Feb 26, 2016

  • Cars stranded in flood waters from Hurricane Irene in lower Manhattan, August 28, 2011

    Commentary

    Why Engineers Need to Be Thinking About Climate Change

    As sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common, evacuation routes in coastal areas will become more important. Transportation engineers need to be more proactive as they try to anticipate damage to pavement, bridges, and culverts.

    Feb 22, 2016

  • A Super Scooper aircraft battles a 40-acre fire east of the Sepulveda Pass in Los Angeles

    Commentary

    Wildfires Getting More Destructive

    The potential for smoke to harm air quality and cause health problems was especially acute in 2015 because a record number of wildfires broke out in the United States. Pre-wildfire season preparedness could go a long way toward protecting public health.

    Dec 28, 2015

  • New Orleans, Louisiana, photo by Pattie Steib/Fotolia

    Content

    Findings Shared from Study on Economic Impact of Louisiana Land Loss

    RAND researcher Craig Bond presented a report on the economic impact of land loss in Louisiana to a Governor's Advisory Commission.

    Dec 16, 2015

  • Global climate change visualization

    Commentary

    Adapting to a Hotter World

    Because climate change is largely irreversible, mitigation alone won't solve the problem. While mitigation will prevent even greater, future climatic changes, adaptation — efforts to adjust to climate change's effects — will prepare the world for a new set of living conditions, whatever they may be.

    Oct 2, 2015

  • map of united states

    Brochure

    Examining the Impact of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute

    Established in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute tackles tough questions in the topic areas relevant to the region's long-term economic development and the well-being of its residents. This overview highlights research projects related to coastal protection and restoration, community resilience, housing, health and mental health, education, and public safety.

    Sep 21, 2015

  • New York, NY, USA - October 31, 2012: NYPD police emergency response vehicle parked in the streets of Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York, NY, USA, on October 31, 2012.

    Tool

    Partnerships for Recovery Across The Sectors (PRACTIS) Toolkit

    The Partnerships for Recovery Across The Sectors (PRACTIS) toolkit employs a survey, a quality improvement guide, and a recovery exercise to strengthen disaster recovery partnerships between local health departments and community-based organizations.

    Sep 15, 2015

  • Local residents take pictures as U.S. President Barack Obama visit an area reconstructed after Hurricane Katrina during a presidential visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, August 27, 2015

    Commentary

    What Hurricane Katrina Taught Us About Community Resilience

    Hurricane Katrina left a path of destruction, death, and suffering in its wake. Its recovery, halting and incomplete as it has been, has taught us valuable lessons about resiliency.

    Sep 8, 2015

  • Tourists walk past the entrance to the Hurricane Katrina Memorial, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 23, 2015

    Blog

    Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years After the Storm

    This weekend marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. As the region struggled to cope and rebuild after the storm, RAND experts worked on solutions to the region's long-term challenges.

    Aug 27, 2015

  • Nepalese military personnel and international rescue crews check on a collapsed building after the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 12, 2015

    Commentary

    Another Nepal Earthquake Makes Disaster Relief Planning Even More Important

    Leadership, coordination, communication, and involvement of local stakeholders are critical to an informed response to natural disasters. Improved disaster management in Nepal could help limit the suffering of impacted communities and help secure a more successful recovery in the long run.

    May 13, 2015

  • Nepal military personnel sits next to relief supplies at Gorkha district office following Saturday's earthquake in Gorkha, Nepal April 30, 2015

    Commentary

    Nepal Earthquake Response Shows Need for Better International Planning

    The U.S. provided supplies after the earthquake in Nepal, but they piled up at points of delivery because Nepalese customs authorities insisted that standard inspections be followed, even in an emergency situation. These kinds of bureaucratic challenges can be more easily overcome if they are identified and addressed before crises arise.

    May 7, 2015

  • t-call-experts-hr

    Multimedia

    RAND Experts Discuss Nepal and Preparing for Natural Disasters

    RAND researchers Jonah Blank and Anita Chandra, as well as Margaret Traub, head of Global Initiatives, International Medical Corps, participated in a media conference call on Tuesday, May 5th, to discuss the recent earthquake in Nepal and the many facets of preparing for natural disasters and dealing with the outcome.

    May 5, 2015

  • A bulldozer is parked in the Queens borough of New York where a concrete foundation is all that remains of a house that burned to the ground during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012

    Report

    Lessons Learned from Implementing Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines

    The Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force developed guidelines to ensure that federal agencies incorporate key principles of resilience into their formulation, evaluation, and prioritization of infrastructure investments related to Sandy rebuilding. An initial assessment of the implementation of the guidelines identifies opportunities and challenges.

    Dec 9, 2014

  • Seismograph instrument measuring ground movement during earthquake

    Testimony

    Catastrophic Risk in California: Are Homeowners and Communities Prepared?

    Predictions about the inevitability of a major earthquake in California is generating concern about how to pay for rebuilding after a catastrophic event. Insurance alone isn’t the answer, but exploring ways for insurance premiums to better reflect loss could help homeowners prepare for "the big one.”

    Aug 6, 2014