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Harvey floods Texas: U-M experts can discuss

EXPERTS ADVISORY

ANN ARBOR—Hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Harvey continues to punish Texas, with an estimated 6.6 million people facing days of floods. University of Michigan experts can discuss the storm and its human, medical and economic impact.

Sue Anne Bell, clinical associate professor, at the U-M School of Nursing, focuses on disaster preparedness and response. Her research addresses health effects of disasters and the impact of climate change on human health. She's particularly interested in the relationship between community resilience, health disparities and disasters.

"With increased urbanization in coastal areas, combined with more frequent extreme weather events, catastrophic flooding such as what we're seeing with Tropical Storm Harvey will become more frequent," she said. "Combined with recent federal rollbacks that reduce flood protections, we can expect more deadly consequences from these events. Unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable—older adults, children and persons with disabilities—who will suffer the most."

Bell is a member of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team and is a certified National Healthcare Disaster Professional, and active in emergency preparedness and response activities through the Department of Health and Human Services' National Disaster Medical System, American Nurses Association and Emergency Nurses Association.

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Chris Ruf, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, flew through Harvey on Friday in a hurricane hunter aircraft operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Read his blog post. The aircraft penetrated the storm as it was rapidly intensifying, providing the key data that led to its reclassification from Category 2 to 4.

Ruf leads NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission. CYGNSS is a constellation of eight microsatellite observatories designed to give scientists and weather forecasters unprecedented data about how storms intensify. Today, this process is not well understood and storms are expected to increase in intensity due to climate change. CYGNSS tracks wind speed data at tropical hurricane latitudes across the globe, taking 32 measurements per second. The data from the Harvey fly-though will help the CYGNSS team calibrate and validate their measurements. Read more about CYGNSS.

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Ellen Hughes-Cromwick is a senior economist at the U-M Energy Institute. She is the former chief economist at Ford Motor Co. and served as chief economist of the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama administration.

"The Department of Energy reported that 22 percent of oil production and 25.7 percent of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has shut down," she said. "The larger impact appears to be on refineries, as the DOE reports that 'most' are currently shut down. Gasoline prices in the futures market have risen to levels not seen in two years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in consultation with the Department of Energy, has waived requirements for reformulated gasoline in the region in order to get gasoline flowing to retail stations."

Hughes-Cromwick said it is too soon to know how long this capacity will be shuttered. Currently, oil prices are relatively stable in the $47-to-$48 per barrel range, she said.

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Daniel Raimi is a senior research associate at Resources for the Future and a lecturer at the Ford School of Public Policy, teaching a course on U.S. oil and gas policy. He is a faculty affiliate at the U-M Energy Institute. His book "The Fracking Debate" will be released Dec. 26.

"In the first decade of the 2000s, major hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast, such as Katrina and Rita, disrupted the operations of natural gas producers, processors and distributors, causing prices to spike," he said. "In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we haven't yet seen those types of price spikes. That's because the shale revolution has increased the diversity of natural gas supply, with large volumes coming from places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, and because increased production nationwide has boosted natural gas in storage."

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H. Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions at U-M and associate professor of social work, is a leading expert on poverty and social welfare policy in the United States. In addition to his published works, he has presented his research at the White House and before numerous federal agencies.

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Paula Fomby, associate research scientist at the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research, conducts research on family structure change, family complexity and child well-being. Her work highlights the causes and consequences of residing in specific family arrangements in the context of high economic inequality, with particular attention to how prior socioeconomic disadvantage and exposure to poverty constrain family formation and family process.

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Julie Ribaudo, clinical associate professor of social work, has focused on prevention and intervention with parents and their infants and young children. Her work includes psychotherapy with adults to resolve issues of depression, anxiety and childhood trauma. She provides clinical supervision and is involved in research and service delivery with the Women's Mental Health and Infants Programs through the U-M Department of Psychiatry.

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Joline Uichanco is an assistant professor of technology and operations at the Ross School of Business. Her research focuses on supply chain management under uncertainty, with a particular focus on supply chain resilience in emergency situations. She recently published the paper "A robust model for pre-positioning emergency relief items before a typhoon with an uncertain trajectory."

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