Hurricane Matthew: U-M experts on preparedness, economics, public health

October 7, 2016


After pounding the Caribbean on Thursday, leaving nearly 300 dead and hundreds displaced, Hurricane Matthew headed for Florida late Thursday night. University of Michigan experts are available to discuss:

Marie Natalia Puccio, doctoral student in political science, is currently in Haiti doing research. She is co-author of “After the Storm: Haiti’s Coming Food Crisis,” which examined the food crisis on the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2010.

“There’s this idea of ‘disaster preparedness’ that circulates among development circles. However, the capacity to be prepared for a disaster is starkly limited by the dearth of resources and prevalence of poverty in Haiti,” she said. “It is unrealistic to expect someone to be prepared for a catastrophic future event if they are focused on getting by day to day. So, the onus of preparedness falls on governmental institutions, international organizations and nongovernmental organizations. There were warnings via text message, radio and TV. A list of shelters circulated online. However, very little was done to systematically evacuate the areas that we all knew would be directly hit.”


Harley Etienne, assistant professor of urban planning, has studied post-disaster recovery planning in the Haitian context. He can speak to the residual issues from 2010 that may have placed many people in danger during Hurricane Matthew because they lacked durable shelter.

Contact: 734-763-2075,

Sue Anne Bell, clinical associate professor of nursing, is an expert on the health effects of disasters and the impact of climate change on human health. She is interested in the long-term impact of disasters on women’s health, and has practiced nursing and conducted research in multiple global settings, including Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Contact: 734-647-0341,

Patricia Abbott, associate professor of nursing, specializes in informatics and eHealth. She was part of a team that worked with nurses in Haiti, examining various components of community assessments, such as safety and health services.

Contact: 734-764-7074,

Dean Yang, associate professor of economics and public policy, is an expert on the economic effects of natural disasters and how well disaster losses are buffered by international financial flows, such as foreign aid and foreign direct investment.

Contact: 734-764-6158,

Seth Guikema, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering, has been tracking Hurricane Matthew and earlier this week predicted that more than 9 million people could lose power.

“When strong winds hit an area, especially when the ground is wet, trees fall over and pull power lines down and break poles and supporting structures,” he said. “Flooding causes outages too, but mostly it’s the interaction between the wind and trees, except for the coastal margin. Wetter soil makes it more likely that trees will fall over.”

Contact: 734-764-6475,

Chris Ruf, professor of atmospheric science and electrical engineering, is the principal investigator in NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System Earth Venture Mission.

Contact: 734-764-6561,

Pascal Van Hentenryck, professor of industrial and operations engineering, was part of a team that developed a computer-based evacuation plan after Katrina.

Contact: 734-763-2238,

Marisa Eisenberg is an assistant professor of epidemiology and mathematics. Her recent research has been primarily in modeling infectious diseases, particularly examining cholera and waterborne disease in mathematical models.

Contact: 734-763-2991,

Ravi Anupindi, professor of technology and operations, can discuss the potential business impacts of the storm.

Contact: 734-615-8621,