Wednesday, January 27, 2016

UNO Receives Federal Grant to Improve Evacuation Planning for City of New Orleans

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The University of New Orleans has received a two-year $260,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help the City of New Orleans and Regional Transit Authority (RTA) improve their evacuation planning.

Researchers with UNO’s Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART) will make recommendations on how the city’s vulnerable residents should be evacuated during emergencies and disasters. UNO-CHART is an applied social science hazards research center that collaborates with Louisiana communities.

UNO researchers will examine what can be done to better serve vulnerable populations to ensure that no person or group is left out of the evacuation planning process. They will also study how technology and risk communication practices can serve community members who are often overlooked.

“In evacuation planning, people are defined as vulnerable if they may need additional assistance in the process, including the elderly, vision-impaired, mobility-impaired, hearing-impaired or transient, or if they don’t have a car or have limited English proficiency,” said Monica Teets Farris, director of UNO-CHART. Farris and John Kiefer, professor and director of UNO’s Master of Public Administration program, are co-principal investigators on the grant.

The researchers will submit a final report to the City of New Orleans and RTA that will include recommendations on: how to identify residents who need evacuation assistance, how to communicate risk, the current capacity to transport special needs populations and an outreach strategy.

According to Farris, the City of New Orleans approached UNO-CHART about this research opportunity because of the center’s experience and expertise in applied disaster research and because of its previous partnerships with the City.

The grant from the Federal Transition Administration was made through its Innovative Safety, Resiliency and All-Hazard Emergency and Recovery Program.