Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2013

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Managing Disasters I

Room: Key Ballroom 3   8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Chair(s): Michael Greenberg

Sponsored by DASG

T1-C.3  08:30  The clients of the National Weather Service: Does the current use of river forecasts fully exploit their potential to decrease flood risk? Hoss F*; CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY, Pittsburgh

Abstract: For thousands of river gages, the National Weather Service daily publishes the expected river-stage for the next few days. Good river forecasts have skill for up to two days ahead, meaning that they perform better than assuming that water level will not change. For more lead time, especially when extreme events are concerned, the forecast error grows rapidly. It is not uncommon that forecasts for river-stages in the 90th percentile of observed river-stages have average errors of several feet. The river forecast centers of the National Weather Service do not yet publish the uncertainty or expected error associated with these short-term forecasts. It follows that successful use of river forecasts is heavily dependent on the understanding of the uncertainty of forecasts. For example, ignorance of the average errors of forecasts for the Red River led to insufficient preparation of Grand Forks, ND and its subsequent flooding in 1997. This research focuses on the users of river forecasts in emergency management. Central questions are if the emergency managers have the knowledge to correctly use the forecasts and what the benefits of river forecasts as they are used today are. Do river forecasts as they are published today reduce the flood risk, e.g. the likelihood to suffer damage from flooding? To investigate these questions, 17 emergency managers of mostly small and medium-sized communities along rivers in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma have been interviewed. The analysis is structured as follows. First, the emergency forecasters themselves are described. Which education and experience do they have? How much do they know about the forecasting process and the resulting uncertainty? Second, the process of preparing for an approaching flood and the role of river forecasts therein is analyzed. Third, the research zooms in on the use of the forecast. Which forecasts are being used and through what channels are they accessed? The research is rounded off with a discussion on how river forecast could reduce flood risk if they were used more effectively.

T1-C.4  08:50  Predicting Individual Risk-Reducing Behaviors Before, During and After Major Hazard Events . Greenberg MR*; Rutgers University

Abstract: Much of the literature about major hazard events separates pre-event preparedness from during event behaviors. The paper proposes and tests life-cycle disaster event hypotheses using data collected by the author four months after Superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey on October 29, 2013. The author first tests the ability to predict individual preparedness, and then the expectation that that more preparedness leads to more proactive behaviors during and shortly after events. The author uses previous experiences with disasters, flashbulb memories of previous events, and other respondent attributes to predict preparedness. Then the author examines the relationship between preparedness and behaviors during and shortly after events. Of particular interest is age and pre-existing health as factors that lead some respondents to be victims of events, whereas others are aids not victims, and some are both victims and aids. The life-cycle perspective described and tested here is notably different from much of the medical literature that does not view an event as a life cycle. A policy implication that follows is that communities contain a cadre of individuals who are part of community support groups and these active respondents are critical players before, during and after events due to their preparedness and practiced ability to respond to events rather than be victims of them.

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