Repetitive SC Flood Losses
Decision-making and Long-Lead Climate
LIDAR Floodplain Mapping
Richland County Vulnerability
Responding to September 11
Chlorine Spill in Graniteville, SC (January 6,
2005) Go to top
The January 6, 2005 train derailment and subsequent
release of chlorine in Graniteville, South Carolina provides an opportunity
to assess preparedness for and responses to hazardous materials spills. The
incident resulted in nine fatalities and the forced evacuation of residents
within a one-mile radius of the derailment, many of whom were out of their
homes for a week or more. The lessons learned from the experiences of both
emergency managers and the affected residents will help improve preparedness
efforts in the future. This research will also assist in our understanding
of how people respond to extreme events and those factors that influence
Click here to read the report.
Assessing Repetitive Flood Losses in
South Carolina Go to top
This project characterized the 199 communities in the
state participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to assess
those factors that facilitated or impeded the reduction of repetitive flood
losses in the state. (S. Cutter, PI, SC Department of Natural Resources/FEMA)
Click here to download
the full report.
Decision-making and Long-Lead Climate
Forecasts Go to top
The focus of this collaborative project with Penn State
was to understanding how water managers anticipate and adjust to climatic
variability and how long-lead climate forecasts can help reduce their
planning uncertainty and vulnerability. (B. Yarnal and K. Dow PIs, G.
Carbone, S. Cutter, R. Bord, and R. O’Connor, co-investigators, Penn State
Dow, K., R.E. O’Connor, B. Yarnal, G. J. Carbone,
and C. L. Jocoy, 2006. "Why worry? Community water system managers’
perceptions of climate vulnerability," Global Environmental Change.
Yarnal, B., A.L. Heasley, R. E. O’Connor, K. Dow,
and C. L. Jocoy, 2006. "The Potential Use of Climate Forecasts by Community
Water System Managers," Land Use and Water Resources Research Vol.
6. Available online at
O’Connor, R. E., B. Yarnal, K. Dow, C. L. Jacoy,
and G. J. Carbone, 2005. “Feeling At-Risk Matters: Water Managers and the
Decision to Use Forecasts.” Risk Analysis 25(5): 1265-1275.
Carbone, G. J. and K. Dow, 2005. “Water Resource
Management and Drought Forecasts in South Carolina”. Journal of the
American Water Resources Association 41 (1): 145-155.
Evaluation of Airborne LIDAR-derived Floodplain
Mapping Go to top
The use of airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)
data for the construction of topographic models and subsequent use in
floodplain mapping is a recently developed approach. In a series of projects
related to topographic model construction, the effects of LIDAR collection
characteristics (e.g. spatial scale and vegetation phenology) on topographic
accuracy and floodplain derivation were examined. (M.E. Hodgson, PI, NASA
Affiliated Research Center, North Carolina Geodetic Survey)
M. E. Hodgson, J. R. Jensen, L. Schmidt, S. Schill,
and B. Davis. 2003. "An Evaluation of LIDAR- and IFSAR-derived Digital
Elevation Models in Leaf-on Conditions with USGS Level 1 and Level 2
DEMS", Remote Sensing of Environment 84 (2): 295-308.
Reconstructions of the Southeastern United States
Go to top
This project reconstructs past climate and climatic
hazards for the southeastern United States from documentary evidence
extending back to the mid-eighteenth century. The reconstructions provide
a longer temporal perspective of interannual and decadal climatic
variability, landfalling hurricane frequencies, historical floods,
snowstorms, and heat waves. The reconstructions are also applied to
understanding historical climatic linkages with society, such as during
Yellow Fever epidemics and severe drought. (C. Mock, PI, National Science
C. J. Mock. 2002. "Documentary Records of Past
Climate and Tropical Cyclones from the Southeastern United States", PAGES
News, 10: 20-21.
C. J. Mock. 2002. Report on "Workshop on Atlantic
Basin Paleohurricane Reconstructions from High Resolution Records", The
Quaternary Times 32:7.
Inequities in Disaster Losses: Identifying Disaster-Prone Places
Go to top
This project examined the geographic variability in
historical hazard events and associated losses to see if the impact of these
hazards is disproportionately found in low income and/or minority counties.
To determine the spatial and temporal variability, two separate databases
were constructed: a georeferenced database of natural hazard events and
losses from 1950-to the present; county-level socioeconomic profiles
generated for the same time period using Census data. (S. Cutter and D.
Mileti, PIs, National Science Foundation)
Boruff, B. J., J. A. Easoz, S. D. Jones, H. R.
Landry, J. D. Mitchem, and S. L. Cutter. 2003. "Tornado hazards in the United
States." Climate Research 24: 103-117.
Cutter, S.L., B.J. Boruff, and W.L. Shirley. 2003.
“Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards.” Social Science Quarterly
Improving Tornado Warning Effectiveness
and the Fujita Scale Assessment Process
Go to top
This project investigated the problems with the Fujita
Scale assessment process. Using photographs of damage from an F3 tornado
that struck Indianapolis on 9/20/02, a detailed analysis of the tornado’s
damage path throughout Marion Co., IN was constructed. It is difficult to
determine the F-Scale rating using some types of damage (e.g. damage to
signs, factories, and malls). Surveys were used to assess how people
responded to tornado warnings. The results from the project can be used to
improve public safety during tornadoes and to make the warning process more
effective. (Jamie D. Mitchem, PI, Natural Hazard Research and Applications
Information Center, University of Colorado at Boulder, Quick Response Grant
An Analysis of the September 20, 2002, Indianapolis
Tornado: Public Response to a Tornado Warning and Damage Assessment
herefor the full report.
National Digital Clearinghouse for Hazard Event
and Loss Data Go to top
This project developed a prototype data archive and
web-based retrieval system for hazard event and losses for the United States
using historic data for seventeen specific hazards (e.g. earthquakes,
tornadoes, hazardous material spills). (S. Cutter, PI, University of South
Carolina Office of the Vice President for Research)
Go to SHELDUS(Spatial
Hazard Events and Losses Database for the U.S.)
Vulnerability Assessment Go to top
This project examined the spatial variation of
historical hazard events and current socio-economic indicators in order to
gain a better understanding of the current biophysical, social and overall
place vulnerability in the county. Such an in depth study provides the
information needed by emergency managers, planners and the general public
in order to better prepare for hazard events in the future. (S. Cutter, PI,
SC Emergency Management Division)
Social Vulnerability Map
Hazard Vulnerability Map
Place Vulnerability Map
Use of Spatial Data and Geographic
Technologies in Response to the September 11 Terrorist Attack
Go to top
The project provided an evaluation of the use of
geographic technologies in response (immediate rescue and relief phase) to
the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. (S.
Cutter, D.S.K. Thomas, and M. E. Hodgson, PIs, Quick Response Grant,
University of Colorado/National Science Foundation).
Thomas, D. S. K., S. L. Cutter, M. E. Hodgson, M.
Gutekunst, and S. Jones. 2003. "Use of Spatial Data and Geographic
Technologies in Response to the September 11 Terrorist Attack on the World
Trade Center," In Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information
Center, Public Entity Risk Institute, and Institute for Civil Infrastructure
Systems, Beyond September 11th: An Account of Post-disaster Research.
Special Publication 39. Boulder, CO: Natural Hazards Research and
Applications Information Center, University of Colorado, pp. 147-162.