Natural Hazards

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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.

  • Aerial photograph of the devastation caused in the greater New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina, August 30, 2005, photo by Vincent Laforet/Pool/Reuters

    Blog

    Planning for a COVID-19 Hurricane

    May 4, 2020

    What if Hurricane Katrina had hit during a pandemic? Emergency planners can prepare for this scenario by evaluating current response system capacity, evacuation and sheltering procedures, food and supply issues, and more.

  • A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Getty Fire as it burns in the hills of West Los Angeles, California, October 28, 2019, photo by Gene Blevins/Reuters

    Blog

    A Climate Scientist's Brush with Wildfire

    Dec 18, 2019

    RAND researcher Robert Lempert was evacuated from the path of a wildfire. This experience emphasized for him the challenges of adapting to climate change, not merely because it is hard, but because it makes the familiar become unfamiliar in unexpected ways.

Explore Natural Hazards

  • News Release

    Direct-to-Consumer Telemedicine Can Deliver Routine Care to Affected People Following Natural Disasters

    Direct-to-consumer telemedicine is a viable way to deliver medical care in the days following a natural disaster, although most people who use such services do so for routine matters rather than disaster-caused illnesses.

    Apr 25, 2018

  • A man selling air coolers rests at a market on a hot summer day in Ahmedabad, India May 4, 2017

    Commentary

    Staying Cool as the Globe Warms

    Studies suggest that the heat of the future will exceed humans' capacity to cope. But taking advantage of smart technology, inexpensive traditional methods of cooling that require little energy use, and innovative energy-efficient technologies could provide a sustainable path forward in heat-challenged regions.

    Apr 23, 2018

  • A man walks through a field amidst smog in New Delhi, India, February 7, 2018.

    Commentary

    Can Dirty-Air Discontent in New Delhi Push India Toward Greener Days?

    The downside to India's dramatic economic growth is New Delhi's off-the-charts air pollution. Public health officials have compared the harms of breathing in India's capital to smoking dozens of cigarettes a day. How bad must things become before Indians demand change and make it stick?

    Mar 22, 2018

  • Senior Airman John J. Kosequat, a pararescueman with the 103rd Rescue Squadron of the 106th Rescue Wing assigned to the New York Air National Guard, pushes an elderly man toward the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in Houston area, August 30, 2017. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Daniel H. Farrell)

    Research Brief

    Boosting Disaster Resilience Among Older Adults

    Older adults are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Collaborations between public health departments and organizations that promote aging in place could improve disaster resilience among older populations.

    Jan 26, 2018

  • Older man and woman surveying flood damage

    Tool

    Building Older Adults' Resilience by Bridging Public Health and Aging-in-Place Efforts: Toolkit

    This toolkit contains information and activities that can bring together those involved in aging-in-place support and those involved in disaster resilience efforts to improve the resilience of older adults to natural and human-caused disasters.

    Jan 23, 2018

  • An attendee at a community meeting reads materials about aging in place in West Hollywood, California, May 9, 2015

    Report

    Improving Older Adults' Disaster Resilience

    Most organizations that promote aging in place do not place a high priority on promoting disaster preparedness. And the resilience activities of public health departments are not focused on older adults. Tailoring existing activities to the needs of older adults could improve their disaster preparedness and resilience.

    Jan 23, 2018

  • Members of the Virgin Islands National Guard hand out food and water to civilians at a distribution point on St. Croix after Hurricane Irma, September 22, 2017

    Blog

    RAND Researchers Visit Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria

    A small team of RAND researchers went to Puerto Rico two weeks after the island was struck by Hurricane Maria. They are compiling their observations into a series of studies for the Army, with recommendations to smooth its response to future disasters.

    Dec 19, 2017

  • Laborers work at a road construction site in Kolkata, India, February 27, 2017

    Commentary

    How Hot Is Too Hot? Rising Temperatures and the Workplace

    Climate change is here. Future extreme heat waves are a given and will likely grow in intensity, geographic reach, and duration. Plans must be made now to ensure survival of the poorest, to protect outdoor workers, and to adapt economic planning to what is increasingly becoming a hotter planet.

    Nov 16, 2017

  • SFC Eladio Tirado, who is from Puerto Rico, speaks with residents as he helps during recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria, in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, October 7, 2017

    Commentary

    How to Rebuild After This Year's Hurricane Season? Invest in Resilience

    Investing in resilience in an informed and systematic way can help a wide range of high-risk communities be better prepared for any future disasters.

    Nov 6, 2017

  • Map focusing on Louisiana and MIssissippi

    Brochure

    RAND Gulf States Policy Institute: Committed to Strengthening the Well-Being of the U.S. Gulf States Through Research and Analysis

    This 16-page flyer describes the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute and summarizes some of the research it has tackled since its founding in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

    Nov 1, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Mapping Vulnerability to Heat Waves in India

    Using district-level data on demographic, social, economic, health, and environmental factors, RAND researchers created the first-ever tool for measuring and mapping India's population's vulnerability to heat waves: the Heat Vulnerability Index.

    Sep 15, 2017

  • Houses are seen partially submerged in flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey in Northwest Houston, Texas, August 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Why Houstonians Didn't Buy Flood Insurance

    Thousands of Houston-area homeowners will face massive, uninsured losses due to flood damage. Few homeowners buy flood insurance unless they are required to, and it's only mandatory for homes with mortgages located in FEMA-defined high-risk flood zones. People tend to ignore low-probability risks.

    Sep 12, 2017

  • A rescue boat evacuates people from the rising waters of Buffalo Bayou following Hurricane Harvey in a neighborhood west of Houston, Texas, August 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Rethinking Disaster Evacuation

    Before a storm hits, officials must decide whether to evacuate the public or advise them to shelter in place. Other, more targeted choices — such as sheltering in safer locations within a city — could be available if an analytic basis for making such judgments were fully developed.

    Sep 11, 2017

  • A picture of multiple street signs in a flood

    Report

    Landscape Survey to Support Flood Apex National Flood Decision Support Toolbox: Definitions and Existing Tools

    This report summarizes the literature on resilience to flood risk, its analysis and measurement, and examples. It also catalogs decision support tools for flood mitigation and makes recommendations for further investigation of the tools.

    Sep 7, 2017

  • Disaster response team discusses an action plan

    Tool

    Getting To Outcomes® Guide for Community Emergency Preparedness

    This Getting To Outcomes guide helps with the planning, implementation, evaluation, continuous quality improvement, and sustainability of community emergency preparedness programs. It includes instructions, completed examples, and blank tools.

    Aug 21, 2017

  • Lake Pontchartrain sunset

    Report

    Reducing Coastal Flood Risk with a Lake Pontchartrain Barrier

    A Lake Pontchartrain barrier could provide substantial damage reduction benefits—including reduced flood depths and preventing direct economic damage—for southeastern Louisiana, potentially amounting to billions of dollars saved per year.

    Aug 4, 2017

  • Louisiana marsh scene, north shore of Lake Pontchartrain

    Journal Article

    Economic Evaluation of Coastal Land Loss in Louisiana

    Louisiana has lost approximately 1,880 square miles of land over the past 80 years. Projections suggest that in a future without action, the next 50 years could result in the loss of 1,750 additional square miles of land area.

    Jul 19, 2017

  • The Crescent City Connection (formerly Greater New Orleans Bridge) and Mississippi River in late afternoon

    Journal Article

    Economic Evaluation of Coastal Land Loss in Louisiana

    This report presents an economic evaluation of assets and activities at risk from land loss and associated storm damage in coastal Louisiana. The results show a significant level of risk to economic assets and activity in Louisiana.

    Jul 19, 2017

  • A mother and her child walk along the Ganges river during a dust storm on a hot summer day in Allahabad, India, June 9, 2015

    Commentary

    Where Are India's Heat Hotspots?

    Poverty, poor sanitation, a precarious water and electricity supply, and limited access to health care make India vulnerable to heat waves. Rural and urban districts could improve their preparedness by developing and targeting local adaptation strategies.

    May 17, 2017

  • A view of downtown Pittsburgh, the Sixth Street Bridge, and the Allegheny River

    Report

    Robust Stormwater Management in the Pittsburgh Region

    The city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding region face significant—and potentially growing—stormwater management challenges. Analysis can help better understand the system's vulnerabilities and identify solutions.

    Apr 24, 2017