COSSPP experts weigh in on Hurricane Ian

5 Headshots of FSU faculty involved in Hurricane Ian news with #COSSPPInTheNews above it
From left: Bradford Johnson, David Merrick, Dennis Smith, Chris Uejio, William Butler

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, COSSPP faculty have been lending their expertise to various media outlets, hoping to bring clarity and help Florida residents deal with the aftermath. 

David Merrick, Director of the Center for Disaster Risk Policy and the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program, is on the ground in Naples with FSU’s drone team. 

“Drones are going out ahead of the search and rescue teams to provide information about where the damage is the worst,” Merrick said to the Tallahassee Democrat, “which helps decision makers decide how to pass on resources and what goes where.” 

Merrick also spoke to NPR about the challenges people are facing after Hurricane Ian, including flooding and road closures. 

“I guarantee you that people who are without power, without water, maybe without access to their homes, they thought they were fine yesterday or the day before,” Merrick said. 

Department of Urban and Regional Planning’s Planner-in-Residence Dennis Smith, AICP, spoke with ABC, CBS, and NBC News regarding Hurricane Ian. 

“Hurricane Ian is five times the size in terms of its extent compared to Hurricane Andrew,” Smith told CBS News. He said while Hurricane Andrew was a very tight cyclone, moving fast through Miami-Dade, Hurricane Ian moved slowly throughout the state, spanning 500 miles. 

“It’s really frightening to go through a hurricane, I’ve been through a lot,” Smith told ABC News. “It can be pretty devastating to have to sit it out and wait and wonder what happened to your house.” 

He advised people to be patient and cautious. “It’s gonna be a long process,” Smith said. “People have to be really careful because the conditions are dangerous.” 

Bradford Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Geography, was a featured guest on Aljazeera, speaking on the conditions in the Gulf of Mexico that caused Hurricane Ian to become such a strong storm and how rising ocean temperatures are feeding these storms. He also spoke about the role of private companies in preventing extensive damage as a result of natural disasters as well as climate change. 

Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning William Butler, Ph.D., spoke to WPTV about the role that barrier island play and what rebuilding should look like post-Hurricane Ian. 

“We don’t build in a way that’s designed to move with that very dynamic environment,” Dr. Butler said. “We can be on higher elevation land, and we can start reducing how much we allow to build in lower elevation areas.” 

Before Hurricane Ian made landfall, Chris Uejio, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geography, spoke with New Nation Now

“We’re looking at a case where we don’t only have a large storm surge that’s most likely to hit a broad swath of the region, but also a prolonged and protracted rainfall,” Dr. Uejio said. The combination of the two could lead to “flooding that we haven’t seen in the modern era.” 

As Florida continues to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, COSSPP experts will continue to analyze the effects and engage in recovery efforts.