HAZARD MITIGATION RISK ASSESSMENT DATA: STUDENT OPPORTUNITES
The Department of Earth Sciences was contracted by FEMA through the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to produce a comprehensive Hazard Mitigation Plan for Pulaski County, Arkansas. As part of an effort to produce an all-hazards plan for this most-populous county in the State, we completed a hazardous materials commodity flow study for Pulaski County. Major Interstate Highways cross Pulaski County (I-30 and I-40), and Federal and State highways radiate from the centrally located County. Data from the study include a record of the time and number of trucks entering or exiting the County that are marked by hazardous material identification placard diamonds. These placard diamonds are marked with classes of materials, and identification numbers for specific materials. As part of our methods, we employed students to collect and synthesize data. In this way we used real world data with which the students were familiar to teach data manipulation and presentation. Future studies of other data necessary to assess risk from natural and technological hazards will offer student opportunities to gain class credit for these projects by gathering and manipulating data, designing visual presentations and submitting written reports of risk assessment, as well as using GIS software to overlay data with other hazard information in order to prioritize mitigation actions. In this way we can reward students who assist with the mitigation effort as well as providing an excellent opportunity for students to understand uses of real data. Exercises in introductory geology courses, environmental geology, and hydrogeology can also be designed using collection of risk assessment data.