Engineering Researchers Empower Homeowners in Disaster Preparedness

FAMU-FSU College of Engineering Research Team
(left-right) Arda Vanli, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Industrial & Manufacturing, Bejoy Alduse, Post Doctoral Researcher, Civil Engineering, Grzegorz Kakareko, Ph.D. student, Civil Engineering, Spandan Mishra, Ph.D. student Industrial Engineering and Sungmoon Jung, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering

According to the National Hurricane Center, the U.S. has been hit by 281 hurricanes since 1851. In a state like Florida the likelihood of a direct hit is great and the cost for such a storm can be enormous. Between 2004 and 2005, eight hurricanes hit Florida and cost a whopping $31.3 billion dollars in insured losses.

Such statistics and inevitability of these storms can be overwhelming to a homeowner but with the right tools and information, a homeowner can be prepared by using preventive techniques to strengthen their homes.

"We all know that hurricanes cause a lot of damage and we need to mitigate our homes. But we've learned that cost is a major barrier preventing homeowners from doing so," says Sungmoon Jung, an associate civil engineering professor at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

He and colleague Arda Vanli, an associate professor in industrial engineering at the college are working with a risk modeling company on improved hurricane risk models. This hard data may enable insurers to offer more aggressive premium reductions to homeowners who implement hurricane upgrades. Their approach would give homeowners better information to weigh the upfront cost of improvements against the future benefit.

"This approach would result in more accurate hurricane policy rates, more risk-informed decision-making and more accurate economic loss estimation," Jung says.

The researchers from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering have formed a team with students from Civil Engineering and Industrial Engineering and use a multidisciplinary approach in gathering data for this research. The data comes from the Civil Engineering group and is processed by methods from the Industrial Engineering side.

Arda Vanli said," We are bringing tools together from the disciplines of structural mechanics and Bayesian statistics to develop decision making methods for homeowners and insurance companies."

The researchers have partnered with EQECAT, a catastrophe risk modeling company to identify opportunities of promoting mitigation of buildings against hurricanes.

NOAA Florida Sea Grant is funding several research projects that focus on helping communities become more resilient to severe storms and hurricanes and is funding this research.