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MEDIA ADVISORY: Hurricane Experts from Johns Hopkins University

Updated September 7, 2017
CONTACT: Media representatives listed below
General contact: Dennis O’Shea
Office: 443-997-9912 / Cell: 410-499-7460
dro@jhu.edu / @JHUmediareps

Note: This list will be updated online here. Information on broadcast-quality interviews with Johns Hopkins experts on Vyvx or ISDN is here.

ISSUE: Sea Level Rise and Coastal Engineering
Robert A. Dalrymple, Ph.D.

Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering
Dr. Dalrymple is an expert in coastal engineering and coastal processes, including the effects of sea level rise. “In the Miami area, the mean sea level has risen about 5 inches since Hurricane Andrew [in 1992]. This implies more inundation for a similar storm.”  To reach Robert Dalrymple, email him at rad@jhu.edu. To talk with him, contact Phil Sneiderman at 443-997-9907 (office) or 410-299-7462 (cell), or email him at prs@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Community resilience to major disasters
Monica Schoch-Spana, Ph.D.
Senior associate at the Center for Health Security and visiting faculty member at the Bloomberg School of Public Health; she also holds faculty positions in anthropology at Texas State University and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
“As severe weather events increase in intensity and frequency, the country needs to move from a ’emergency response’ model of picking up pieces after a crisis to a ‘community resilience’ model of constantly evolving to withstand one in the first place.”
To reach Monica Schoch-Spana, contact Nick Alexopulos at nalexopulos@jhu.edu or 443-573-3318

ISSUE: Stormwater management
Ciaran Harman, Ph.D.
Professor, landscape hydrology, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering
Harman is an expert in landscape hydrology, studying the movement of water through the landscape. (First name pronounced: KEER-in.) “The rainfall that has inundated Houston is unprecedented, and far above the design capacity of even very good stormwater systems. It is important to understand that, even if Houston had a world-class stormwater management system, it is unlikely to have prevented the flooding of homes and businesses built in floodways. The area is too flat and the soils too poorly drained, and there was just too much rain. Sustainable stormwater infrastructure is essential to ensuring cities can be resilient to the effects of large storms, but it is important to recognize that it has limits, and that there are some areas that will always be at risk of flooding.”
To reach Ciaran Harman, call his office phone, 410-516-7102, or email him at charman1@jhu.edu. Alternate: contact Phil Sneiderman at 443-997-9907 or 443-226-0331 (cell) or email him at prs@jhu.edu

Kellogg Schwab, Ph.D.
Director, Johns Hopkins Water Institute, and professor, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dr. Schwab can speak to water safety and related health issues associated with flooding and stagnant water.
To reach Kellogg Schwab, contact Barbara Benham at 443-703-8851 (cell) or email her at bbenham1@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Climate and hurricane intensity
Anand Gnanadesikan, Ph.D.
Professor, Earth and planetary sciences, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
See video of Dr. Gnanadesikan
A climate modeler, Dr. Gnanadesikan looks at the atmospheric and oceanic circulation of the tropics, including how changes in circulation can affect hurricane formation. Irma “is right now the most extreme Atlantic hurricane on record. Some of the most intense hurricanes ever seen have been seen in the past few years. The predictions are that global warming will reduce the overall number of hurricanes, but increase the most intense hurricanes.”
To reach Anand Gnanadesikan, contact Arthur Hirsch at 443-997-9909 or 443-462-8702 (cell) or email him at ahirsch6@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Health-sector resilience and hospital preparedness
Eric Toner, M.D.
Senior associate, Johns Hopkins Center for Center for Health Security, and senior scientist, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dr. Toner is an expert in health care preparedness for catastrophic events and health sector resilience. He recently worked on a study examining the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the health sectors of affected areas. Many of the findings from that project, Dr. Toner says, are highly relevant to Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts. He explores potential stressors on Houston’s health sector in his Aug. 30 column in The Hill. For example, he says, “the majority of the [post-disaster surge of] patients that present for care are likely to have routine medical needs such as medication prescriptions, management of chronic conditions, and minor illnesses and injuries, and some will require access to outpatient services such as dialysis, behavioral health, and homecare. Reestablishing access to these services and supply chains for essential medications should be a priority.”
To reach Eric Toner, contact Nick Alexopulos at nalexopulos@jhu.edu or 443-573-3318

ISSUE: Immediate disaster response: Health care issues; hospitals; hospital preparedness; first responders and emergency medical services
Gabor D. Kelen, M.D.
Director, Department of Emergency Medicine and professor of emergency medicine, School of Medicine. Director, Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response
“As with hurricanes Katrina and Rita, disasters such as Harvey that affect the health-care delivery system on a large scale present their own special challenges. Most immediately, for affected hospitals, nursing homes and other special facilities, there is a need to transfer and transport patients to other facilities. Sometimes these are very far away, distant from families, and with absence of fully needed medical records. Patients suitable for discharge from hospitals may have nowhere to go. Transfer and transport of infants, children and those being intensively managed also present specific challenges.”
To reach Gabor D. Kelen, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu

Matthew J. Levy, D.O., M.Sc.
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Division of Special Operations, School of Medicine
“Lives have been lost, and for many others, life will never be the same. For those directly affected, the human condition turns to most basic elements of survival. The local nature of disaster response, even across an entire region, is apparent. Our nation’s disaster response and recovery resources have been mobilized and personnel from across the county have begun to arrive. … These assets will also allow local first responders, law enforcement and health care personnel, many of whom are themselves victims of the disaster, an opportunity to help their own affected families. As we have learned from previous disasters, recovery from this event of this magnitude will be measured not in months, but in years.”
To reach Matthew Levy, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu.  

Lauren M. Sauer, M.S.
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine
“Hurricane Harvey is unprecedented in its magnitude and the resulting flooding, but we will continue to see storms like this, as a direct result of climate change. While Harvey stalls over the Gulf Coast of Texas, it is critical to consider the most vulnerable populations that will be affected by the storm and its aftermath. Protecting oneself and one’s family in a disaster requires resources, which are often expensive and limited. We must protect and prioritize the resources needed by the affected population now and in the direct aftermath of the storm.”
To reach Lauren M. Sauer, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu

Michael G. Millin, M.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine
“The acute phase of this event is still in evolution, such that it will be days until full assessments have been completed and the full scope is realized. In the interim, numerous rescue and medical assets have been mobilized to provide assistance. Thousands have been evacuated to shelters, where there will eventually likely be a medical need.” Dr. Millin can also discuss general emergency medical services, general disaster medical response, technical rescue, search and rescue, and swift water rescue.
To reach Michael G. Millin, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu

Paul Spiegel, MD, MPH
Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health
“Given the scale of this event, prioritization needs to occur, as not everyone will be able to be helped at the same time. Despite back-up generators, some hospitals may need to be evacuated to more secure hospitals, where electricity and infrastructure is more secure and reliable. People who take medications for chronic diseases need to ensure that they have sufficient meds and/or can get these meds. This can be complicated, and complications from diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiac diseases, asthma, etc., may occur. It is important that the response takes this into account and has these medications for chronic diseases available.”
To reach Paul Spiegel, contact Barbara Benham at 443-703-8851 (cell) or email her at bbenham1@jhu.edu

Tener Goodwin Veenema, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, FAAN
Associate professor of acute and chronic care, School of Nursing
Tener Goodwin Veenema is an internationally recognized expert in disaster nursing and public health emergency preparedness. She has served as senior consultant to the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, the Administration for Children and Families, and FEMA. “Timely and appropriate response to these devastating storms will require communication, collaboration and coordination across all sectors of the acute and public health care system. Nurses will be integral to these efforts, providing counsel and clinical care, implementing infection control measures, and ensuring access to health care for all. Our national nursing workforce is the steel safety net that promotes individual and population health and well-being and will help to propel our communities towards recovery.”
To reach Tener Goodwin Veebema, contact Danielle Kress at 410-955-2840 (dkress@jhu.edu); Tammy Berwanger at 410-591-0759 (tberwanger@jhu.edu); or Tener Veenema tveenem1@jhu.edu  

ISSUE: Emerging diseases and health problems
Gabor D. Kelen, M.D.
Director, Department of Emergency Medicine and professor of emergency medicine, School of Medicine. Director, Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response
“Contrary to conventional thought, there are few incremental immediate needs for health care directly related to hurricane impacts. However, over time there are serious limitations to the management of chronic disease with an incapacitated health care system. For example, access to needed routine medications may be an issue as pharmacies are also destroyed or closed. There are public health impacts over time as well, such as outbreaks of disease related sanitation.”
To reach Gabor D. Kelen, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu

Michael G. Millin, M.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine
“The greatest short-term risks are likely to be related to clean water for drinking and sanitation. As the event evolves, management of patients with chronic medical conditions will become an issue. Previous similar events have brought challenges for patients with diabetes, cardiac diseases and colostomy care. Mental health resources will also need to be mobilized, as the stress of the event will cause havoc for those with baseline mental health illnesses. It’s events like this where we see the strength of the human condition as communities pull together to help each other.”
To reach Michael G. Millin, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu

Paul Spiegel, MD, MPH
Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health
“With the flooding, water and sanitation is an important issue. Proper and safe places to defecate are important so that drinking water is not contaminated. Otherwise, diarrhea and skin diseases may occur, among other diseases.”
To reach Paul Spiegel, contact Barbara Benham at 443-703-8851 (cell) or email her at bbenham1@jhu.edu 

ISSUE: Impact on sewage treatment plants
Ed Bouwer, Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental Engineering, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering
Bouwer is an expert in water quality, environmental microbiology and wastewater treatment. He is concerned about how the severe flooding could impact local supplies of clean water. “When floodwaters overwhelm a treatment plant, untreated sewage containing pathogens could would be released, creating health risks. Also, floodwater could damage the computer circuitry used to operate modern treatment plants, delaying the process of restarting the treatment plant after the floodwaters recede.”
To reach Ed Bouwer, call his office phone, 410-516-7437, or email him at bouwer@jhu.edu. Alternate: contact Phil Sneiderman at 443-997-9907 or 443-226-0331 (cell) or email him at prs@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Urban food access after a disaster
Roni Neff, Ph.D.
Program director, Food Sustainability and Public Health, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future; assistant professor, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health
“Disasters such as Hurricane Harvey create follow-on crises in food access, preventing food from getting to people and people from getting to places where food is available. They also lead to food safety threats, due to food spoilage and contaminated water supplies. While everyone is affected, those hardest hit include people with lower incomes, those living in areas with less food available, older adults, and those with medically necessary diets. A disaster like Harvey can have lasting impacts, as flood waters lead to blocked food distribution routes, harm to crops and livestock, food system workers who can’t get to work (including those who have evacuated from the area), and higher gas prices, which are entwined with food prices. Our recent report demonstrates a critical need to bring food experts and stakeholders into disaster preparedness and response efforts, and provides an example of the types of planning that are needed.”
To reach Roni Neff, contact Natalie Wood-Wright at 443-287-2771 or nwoodwr1@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Post-disaster mass communications
Elizabeth Serlemitsos, MBA, MPH
Director of the Center for Communication Programs’ Breakthrough ACTION project and leader of CCP’s work in West Africa during and after the 2014 Ebola outbreak
“In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, good, accurate communication is one of the most effective tools we have to help. Many information needs are urgent: where to go for food, shelter and medical care. Using trusted sources of information and counteracting rumors and misinformation are also key.”
To reach Elizabeth Serlemitsos, contact Stephanie Desmon at 410-530-5876 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Training relief workers to be effective communicators
Elizabeth Serlemitsos, MBA, MPH
Director of the Center for Communication Programs’ Breakthrough ACTION project and leader of CCP’s work in West Africa during and after the 2014 Ebola outbreak
“Something that is often overlooked is that people also will likely need psychological and social support, which is not limited to where and how to access information and services. It also includes the need for improved interpersonal skills for crisis responders, to ensure that the words of responders help, and don’t hurt, people in a very stressful time. The damage from Hurricane Harvey will be with us for a long time, and communication has a critical role to play in the response to the ongoing crisis.”
To reach Elizabeth Serlemitsos, contact Stephanie Desmon at 410-530-5876 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Back to school, eventually
Annette C. Anderson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Community Schools, School of Education
“Given the severity of this weather event, school leaders may want to rethink how they approach the first day. … While it is customary to open schools on the first day with a great deal of celebratory fanfare, they may want to start thinking instead about what social-emotional/health and welfare resources they will have available to offer families on the first day. If many families will be relocated to other districts, there may need to be a patchwork system in place that can allow students to attend school uninterrupted until life goes back to ‘normal.’ It may mean that they are allowed to be a guest student in another district until housing is resolved, for instance. Districts may also need to consider adding additional resources such as counseling and social work services by partnering with neighboring agencies. If Katrina is the most relatable remembrance, this will all take some time to organize given the scale of the response that will be required.”
To reach Annette C. Anderson, contact her at 410-516-2012 (office) or 410-978-8198 (cell), or email her at annette.anderson@jhu.edu

ISSUE: Learning from Harvey: Lessons for the Future
Paul Ferraro, Ph.D.
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Business and Engineering, with faculty appointments at the Carey Business School, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Whiting School of Engineering.
“As a nation, we need to be better prepared for catastrophic floods so we can mitigate the widespread damage and loss of life. Fifty inches in a few days might be unusual, but extensive flooding with its subsequent property damage and loss of life is not. We have the tools to prepare ourselves for these events, if we’re bold enough to use them. First, get out of the flood zones – it’s a no-brainer that requires political backbone to achieve. Second, manage storm water runoff with investments in green infrastructure, traditional engineered controls, and reductions in impervious surface – Harris County has underinvested in all three categories despite being one of the largest sources of repeated flood losses. Third, deal with the two most serious behavioral problems: the abysmal uptake on flood insurance (and the subsequent government bailouts) and the unwillingness of people to evacuate. And finally, get your government representatives straight about climate change – they must stop denying the science and prepare for increased frequency of extreme events.”
Paul Ferraro expands on these points in an opinion piece published by Bloomberg View. To reach Ferraro, contact Tim Parsons at 410-234-9291 (parson1@jhu.edu) or Patrick Ercolano at 410-234-9296 (pae@jhu.edu)

Lauren M. Sauer, M.S.
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine
“Learning from this response to improve our next one is absolutely essential. Understanding the needs of the affected population, including shelter, evacuation support, daily living essentials, or healthcare, and providing those resources efficiently and effectively will save lives now and in the future.”
To reach Lauren M. Sauer, contact Kim Polyniak at 443-510-5807 (cell) or email her at kpolyni1@jhmi.edu 

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