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Study Looks at Region's Vulnerabilities Following a Major Storm

A massive survey that reached more than 7,000 homes in Hampton Roads, done as part of a study by two researchers at Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), is proving to be an invaluable tool to help the region better understand residents' perceptions of risk, and how they would respond to a major storm event.

It provides the most accurate forecast to date of a giant storm on vulnerable populations, localized in every part of Hampton Roads.

The work of Joshua Behr and Rafael Diaz, research associate professors at VMASC, is being presented around the country by Virginia's Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to showcase the best practices that could come as a result of the research.

"This study has just exploded. The potential importance of this information is immense," said Behr, who comes to VMASC from a social science background.

Funded through a six-figure donation by the Perry Family Foundation, the initial 2011-12 survey was the largest of its kind ever done in Virginia. It focused on the 24 communities that comprise the greater Hampton Roads area, running from northeastern North Carolina to the edge of the Capital Region.

Behr and Diaz developed a multidimensional metric of community and social vulnerabilities that explains the propensity of residents to either shelter in place or evacuate the region, as well as identifies the health and housing needs of those residents following the storm.

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Published on: July 1, 2013