A combination of nine volunteers and staff from the Red Cross of Eastern North Carolina are in Texas and Louisiana helping with recovery efforts of Hurricane Harvey and experts from UNC Chapel Hill are on-call to help communities with flooding related issues, water quality and beach erosion.
Among the experts available to help is Rick Luettich, the director for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute for Marine Sciences in Morehead City. He is one of the lead developers of ADCIRC, a system of computer programs used to predict storm surge and flooding, according to a statement from UNC. The models are updated every six hours can can be seen at nc-cera.renci.org.
Luettich’s research has been used to design protection systems around New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and also New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy, according to the statement. He is the lead investigator of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center.
The National Weather Service called Harvey “unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced” on Twitter Sunday morning.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday and is the strongest hurricane to hit the Texas coast since Hurricane Carla in 1961.
The National Weather Service warned of “additional catastrophic, unprecedented and life threatening flooding” into the next week.
To help those affected by Harvey, go to redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
For a list of other ways to help, go to: www.chron.com/news/houston-weather/hurricaneharvey/article/Hurricane-Harvey-How-to-help-victims-of-the-12003372.php.
Other UNC faculty ready to help:
▪ Hans Paerl is a professor of marine and environmental sciences. His area of expertise is in water quality and the harmful effect of toxic algae for both people and aquatic ecosystems. As seen after Hurricane Floyd, contaminated water is prime breeding ground for algal blooms. Paerl knows about the long-term impact of these blooms, including fish kills, as well as the different types of algae and the dangers, ranging from neurological problems to paralysis, posed by each.
▪ Rachel Noble is a distinguished professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and also the Morehead City field site director of the Institute for the Environment. Noble knows about water contaminates that might be found in lakes and rivers following a storm like Hurricane Harvey. Water quality is especially a concern with flooding and also when the ground is oversaturated, which can put stress on already taxed waste treatment systems and other infrastructure and how that also leads to water contamination.
▪ Tony Rodriguez is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Marine Sciences. Rodriguez is an expert in the immediate effect of intense storms and weather conditions as they pertain to erosion, including compounding factors over time and just how problematic storm-related erosion can become after repeated exposure to intense weather systems and an increase in sea levels.
▪ Carter Smith is a doctoral student at the UNC Institute for Marine Sciences. She studies the benefits of living shorelines, an alternative to seawalls, as a solution to combat erosion and property loss during storms. Living shorelines are both more cost effective than seawalls in the long-term, and are ecologically more sustainable.