Hurricane Sandy: University of Michigan experts

November 1, 2012

ANN ARBOR—In addition to rebuilding their communities, East Coast residents may have to deal with a number of potentially harmful public health effects in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy—from contaminated water to food-related illnesses to increased stress. Such crises also can lead to exacerbation of chronic illnesses, due to an inability to manage such conditions because of inaccessible resources or personal neglect in the face of overwhelming devastation.

The U-M School of Public Health has a number of experts who can address environmental health, infectious disease, chronic disease and stress. In addition, the U-M College of Engineering and Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning have several experts who can discuss rebuilding communities after disasters.


Ian Hiskens, the Vennema Professor of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, can discuss the electrical grid and the storm’s impact on the current infrastructure, as well as ways to design the next generation grid to avoid future crises. Contact: (734) 615-7076,

Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and an expert on flooding and levees, can discuss the impacts of the storm. Video: Contact: (734) 764-0057,

Steven Wright, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, can discuss coastal hydraulics and storm surge flooding and related issues on infrastructure systems. Contact: (734) 764-7148,

Michael Kennedy, lecturer in architecture, has designed and built many buildings in the hurricane zones of Central/Gulf Coast Texas, and has taught and coordinated graduate and undergraduate construction coursework and large and small building construction. Contact: (734) 353-9021,

Harley Etienne, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, is an expert on the social impacts of disasters and spent a lot of time in Haiti after the earthquake. Contact: (734) 763- 2075,


Dr. Al Franzblau, associate dean for research and professor of environmental health sciences and emergency medicine, can address possible impacts of the severe flooding on health. He conducts research in occupational and environmental epidemiology, including water quality and human health. He serves on the U-M Dioxin Exposure Study and has offered expertise on other disasters, including the impact of the Gulf Oil Spill on human health and the health of those involved with the clean up. Contact: (734) 936-0758,


Dr. Eden Wells, clinical associate professor of epidemiology, is an expert in disaster epidemiology and emerging public health threats. She is a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and preventive medicine who served the Bureau of Epidemiology, Michigan Department of Community Health as a medical consultant and medical epidemiologist. Contact: (734) 647-5306,

JoLynn Montgomery, assistant research scientist of epidemiology, also can address public health emergency response, as it applies to communicable diseases. Her work focuses on control of communicable diseases, vaccine preventable diseases, disease surveillance systems, and public health emergency preparedness and response. Contact: (734) 763-2330,


Noreen Clark, the Myron E. Wegman Distinguished University Professor of Public Health, who has a home in New York City and is there now, can talk about the impact of disaster on those with chronic disease, including the association between mold and asthma. Among others topics her research focuses on social and behavioral aspects of chronic disease, especially asthma, diabetes and heart disease. She is director of the U-M Center for Managing Chronic Disease. Contact: (734) 763-1457,


Neal Krause, the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor of Public Health, can discuss stress and health of older people when faced with a crisis. His work focuses on the resources people use to cope with stress, particularly social relationships and religion. Contact: (734) 763-5583,

Cleopatra Howard Caldwell, associate professor of professor of health behavior and health education, can address stress and mental health issues in adolescents and women, and the impact on family. Her research focuses in part on social networks and social supports and mental health, family relationships, cultural factors associated with health behavior, and health status of adolescents and women. Contact: (734) 647-3176,

Harold Neighbors, professor of health behavior and health education, is co-principal investigator on the National Survey of American Life, which explores racial and ethnic differences in mental disorders and psychological distress. His work focuses in part on racial and ethnic influences on psychiatric diagnosis and community case-finding of mental disorders. Contact: (734) 647-6665,