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University of Houston Experts Have Practical Advice, Noteworthy Research on Hurricanes

Representing experts across various fields, University of Houston sources have expertise in an array of topics related to storms – before, during and after.

Houston, TX, June 28, 2013 --( As you consider stories for your coverage of this year’s hurricanes and tropical storms, be prepared with these resources from the University of Houston (UH). Representing experts across various fields, these sources have expertise in an array of topics related to storms – before, during and after.

A Solar-powered Alternative When Power Goes Out
Seamus “Shay” Curran, director of UH’s Institute for NanoEnergy, has developed a portable solar-powered generator that can be stored in a garage. When the power goes out, the unit can be pulled out, the solar panels unfurled and power is generated. Unlike a diesel generator, it is quiet and emissions-free. Reach Curran at (Video demo:

Shelter from the Storm
In times of crisis, the hospitality industry recognizes a responsibility to those escaping the storm. Carl Boger, associate dean of academic programs for the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, can address how hotels manage the crisis for the weary traveler. Reach him at

Food and Water Safety When Power is Out
After the storm, how long can food stay fresh when the power is out? What can you do to protect food in your freezer? Jay Neal, with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, can answer questions about food and water safety, as well as discuss planning nutritious meals with what’s in the pantry, in the event of an extended power outage. Reach him at

Property Damage: Recouping Your Losses
Dan Jones, with the Bauer College of Business, has extensive experience in insurance and expertise in risk management. Jones has been studying the insurance risks of business on the Gulf Coast for six decades. He can speak about steps property owners should take following a natural disaster. Reach him at

Legal Matters Associated with Storms
Dean Richard Alderman with the UH Law Center can discuss topics such as price gouging before hurricanes and consumer complaints about repairs, landlords, insurance issues and other legal matters involving damage to homes, trees and businesses in the aftermath of a storm. Reach him at

Planning and Design for Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events
Thomas Colbert, with the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, is a practicing architect and planner and has expertise in infrastructure design and coastal planning for hurricane mitigation. His recent work deals with the preparation and evaluation of architectural and land-use planning responses to the threat of extreme weather events impacting the upper Texas Gulf Coast. His work anticipates fundamental transformations of the upper Texas Gulf Coast and the development of regional architecture and urbanism based on the requirements imposed by severe weather events, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. Reach him at colbert@Central.UH.EDU.

Right Insurance Policies, Understanding the Law Key to Protection
Robert Johnson, associate director for the Center for Consumer Law at UH, can discuss what type of insurance is needed for hurricane coverage. He can talk about FEMA’s national flood insurance program, offer tips on steps to take before a hurricane or tropical storm hits, what to do afterward if property damage is sustained and explain why residents in coastal counties may need separate policies for windstorm damage. Johnson also can discuss the topics of price gouging before hurricanes, as well as complaints involving repairs, landlords, insurance and other legalities involving damages after a storm. Reach him at

What to do about Work in Case of Crisis
Holly Hutchins, UH associate professor of human resource development, can discuss the effects a hurricane will have on employees, such as maintaining contact with employers and what to do when their place of employment has been destroyed. She also can address issues that face employers, including the areas of crisis management training and post-crisis learning. Reach her at

Mitigating Damage, Rapid Recovery
Cumaraswamy “Vipu” Vipulanandan, civil and environmental engineering professor and director of the Texas Hurricane Center for Innovative Technology, deals with how to mitigate damages to structures, transportation facilities, power grids, water, wastewater and oil pipelines, as well as how to protect coastal areas during extreme weather conditions. A multi-infrastructural model for coordinating the efforts of various entities for rapid recovery after a hurricane or a major disaster is being developed. Reach him at

Driving Rain
It’s never safe to drive during the storm, but for some, staying put is not an option. Industrial engineering professor Gino Lim is testing a program this hurricane season that will allow emergency crews to use laptops and smart phones to locate the flooded streets, allowing them to safely maneuver around them during emergency calls. For more information on his project, visit Reach him at
Contact Information
University of Houston
Lisa Merkl

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