The tragedy and devastation left by Hurricane Harvey is being examined by UH West Oʻahu students as part of their coursework and discussions.
Students in Prof. Ross Prizzia’s Environmental Policy Planning and Administration class are being asked to write papers examining possible lessons from Harvey and coastal flooding innovations. In Professor D. Eun Ahn’s finance classes, students are being asked to consider and discuss the risk of not buying flood insurance and that hedging of risk.
In Associate Professor Ricardo Custodio’s Public Communications Campaigns class, there been discussion of the widespread problems caused by Harvey.
According to Custodio, the disaster was not unlike a war without the fighting and shooting–homes and cities were devastated, large numbers of people became refugee-like in seeking a safer place, and the likelihood that it will takes years for the region to recover from the disaster.
“There are the same concerns for clean water, food and health care,” said Custodio. “Contaminated water can lead to many different diseases, like those found in third world countries.”
Other examinations of Harvey and the hurricane/tropical storm’s aftermath are being planned by Dr. Prizzia and Prof. Jason Levy, both of whom teach classes that touch on issues related to planning and response to emergencies. Prizzia also is director of UH West Oahuʻs Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Programs; the campus offers a bachelor degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management in Hawaii.
Prizzia, noting Harvey was a catastrophe for millions, said it is important to assess what can happen in such situations.
“Harvey provided an opportunity to have students learn about the relevant issues and be involved in discussion and debate about an unprecedented disaster and devastating flooding as it evolved in real time,” said Prizzia, who is the author of the textbook, “Climate Change and Disaster Management.”
“Among the relevant issues are the important role of coordination and cooperation and why the most vulnerable populations in the community are usually the most negatively affected and the least likely to recover.”
Prizziaʻs class assignment on possible lessons from Harvey asks students to write a three-to-five page paper on what can be learned by the unprecedented flooding and devastation and or the response by various groups ranging from the Federal government to the private sector to non-profit organizations and volunteers.
Students are being asked to compare Harvey to 2005ʻs Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm that caused 1,833 deaths and about $108 billion in damages. As of Aug. 31 there were at least 47 dead in the wake of Harvey, a Category 4 storm which inundated Houston with 52 inches of rain. Students are also to review the issue of climate change with respect to Harvey.
A second paper was assigned asking students to examine coastal flooding to identify the most relevant innovations in response and resilience to the flooding. Resilience is the way countries adapt and recover from disasters and includes planning to minimize losses in recognizing hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters cannot be stopped. Students also are being asked to review emergency communications, use of social media to help emergency responders, and use of robots in rescue searches.