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Preparing for the Next Hurricane – April 30 Symposium

Environmental, public safety and weather experts from around the region will evaluate the impact of Superstorm Sandy and discuss efforts to prepare for future hurricane force storms at an April 30 symposium sponsored by the Hofstra Cultural Center and the Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability. A Hofstra research team will also present preliminary findings from a study of cultural and language barriers that may have hindered evacuation efforts in Long Beach, N.Y., which was hard hit by Superstorm Sandy.

The symposium will be held at 7 p.m. in the Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Axinn Library, South Campus. The event is free, but advance registration is required.

“As the North Atlantic hurricane season is about to begin again on June 1, now is a good time to think about the implications of these storms,” said Dr. E. Christa Farmer, associate professor in the Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability.

Dr. Farmer is part of a research team that has been working on U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and New York Sea Grant’s Coastal Storm Awareness Program  studying why so many residents of ethnically diverse Long Beach ignored evacuation warnings about Superstorm Sandy. Dr. Farmer, Dr. Mary Anne Trasciatti, Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric, and Dr. Elisabeth J. Ploran, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, analyzed interviews with Long Beach residents, with an eye toward both language barriers and cultural attitudes in affecting understanding and acceptance of risk information. The goal of their research is to create improved guidelines for the specific language used by government officials and weather authorities to relay coastal storm information, risk assessment and evacuation recommendations.

The symposium will bring together panelists including Adam Sobel, professor, Columbia University, and author of “Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate, and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future”; Amy Simonson, United States Geological Survey, Coram, N.Y.; Nelly A. Romero, program director, Long Beach Latino Civic Association; Anthony Eramo, member, Long Beach City Council; John McNally, co-chair, Long Beach Community Reconstruction Program, and associate director, regional action, The Energeia Partnership at Molloy College; and Erika Schaub, assistant director of public safety and emergency management officer, Hofstra University.

Panelists will describe various aspects of Superstorm Sandy, from the scientific measurement of the storm surge height to the impact on local communities. They will also discuss emergency management and urban planning efforts that are under way to help prepare for potential future storms of similar magnitude.

“As sea level rise is expected to increase as the climate changes, the impacts of coastal storms will potentially increase as well,” said Dr. Farmer. “We need to do everything we can to be ready.”

For further information, contact the Hofstra Cultural Center at hofculctr@hofstra.edu or 516-463-5669.

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