2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 2:55 PM

US VULNERABILITY TO NATURAL DISASTERS: CASE STUDY OF STUDENTS INFLUENCING PUBLIC POLICY


VAN DER VINK, Gregory E., Department of Geosciences, Princeton Univ, Princeton, NJ 08544, gvdv@iris.edu

We present a comprehensive map of disaster risk for the United States that was developed by students at Princeton University for the Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus. The map demonstrates that the increase in costs of natural disasters is the predictable consequence of high-risk land-use. By increasing the awareness of the risks of natural disasters, the students hope to influence land-use policies.

The map allows policy-makers to correlate natural disaster risk with past disaster declarations, the expenditure of Federal dollars for disaster relief, population density, and variations of GDP. The students presented their work in Washington, DC to the Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus and the House Science Committee. It was both a valuable educational exercise and an effective method for presenting a message to policy-makers.

Natural disasters result from the coincidence of natural events with the built environment. Our nationÂ’s infrastructure is growing at an exponential rate in many areas of high risk, and the Federal governmentÂ’s liability is increasing proportionally. By superimposing population density with predicted ground motion from earthquakes, historical hurricane tracks, historical tornado locations, and areas within the flood plain, we are able to identify locations of high vulnerability within the United States.