Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Austin Becker


Emergency managers face challenges in understanding and communicating potential hurricane hazards. Preparedness typically emphasizes the last event encountered, the potential implications of future hazards may thus be underestimated. Risk assessment models (e.g., basic HAZUS) that emphasize accumulated damages in economic terms do not provide actionable data regarding specific local concerns, such as access by emergency vehicles and potential communications disruptions. Qualitative methods conventionally used to identify these concerns, however, lack the specificity necessary to incorporate the managers’ knowledge into hazard models (e.g., highly exact geographic location of the vulnerability or cascading consequences). This research develops a method to gather rich, actionable, qualitative data from critical facility managers that can be utilized in combination with hydrodynamic, wind, and precipitation models to assess potential hazard impacts. A pilot study was conducted with critical facility managers in Westerly, Rhode Island USA, using semi-structured interviews and participatory mapping. Interview methods were based on existing practices for vulnerability assessments, and further augmented to obtain data based on hurricane modeling requirements. This research identifies challenges and recommendations when gathering critical facility manager's knowledge for incorporation into storm simulations and contributes to the overall participation and knowledge co-generation framework of natural hazard models.



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