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Towards resilience with simulations for accessing recovery of critical infrastructure systems from natural hazard damage


As communities continue shifting toward urban lifestyles in the future, the impact of natural disasters grows significantly. This is because, while economic vitality should be an important factor for any population, an urban community offers a centralized location for people, vehicles, assets, and infrastructure to become quickly overwhelmed in the event of a disaster. After an event, communities must sustain resources (energy, transportation,communication, food, etc.) while adapting to and recovering from adverse economic, geographic, and climate related catastrophes. A global analysis on 616 of the world’s largest metropolitan areas exposed to flooding, wind hazards, earthquakes, and other disasters found that building cities more resilient is the priority. In the future, communities must be prepared to deal with multiple hazards.

Community resilience planners must coordinate hazard preparedness: prevention, mitigation,protection, response, and recovery. Impacts from extreme wind hazards remains a primary cause for last mile distribution systems failures of above ground electric power and telecommunication networks. Chapter 3 extends previous analysis developed by researchers at the Center for Risk Based Community Resilience Planning, led by Colorado State University by implementing a new infrastructure (telecommunication) and developing a restoration prioritization strategy. For new and future construction, resilience planning includes land use, codes and standards, and performance objectives related to the role, service, or function of the system in the community, including their recovery after disruptive events.

With communities continuing to shift towards living in urban areas, the threat of wildfire in-creases near the wild-land urban interface. This concentration of human built structures and infrastructures are near areas prone to wildfire. Chapter 4 extends on work published in 2019 by using agent based modeling of large scale transportation networks to implement two dynamic traffic simulations as opposed to a static simulation. In evacuation transportation literature, dynamic traffic simulations are typically chosen for their ability to model congestion which is crucial for understanding community travel patterns. Six in person field trips were taken to the fire impacted region to obtain crucial information for recreating network dynamics (road closure, background traffic, and green light ratio).The field trips were integral in developing a preliminary timeline and identifying critical decision points in response operation. Interviews with key stakeholders such as the mayor’s office, fire department, law enforcement, and engineering services provided many responses that became inputs for the model.

Located near the mouth of the Mississippi River, New Orleans is known for its inequities among racial groups. Hurricane Katrina was a call to action for government and industry organizations the disastrous effects of inadequate support for vulnerable populations during and after a hazardous event. Prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, African Americans have long been viewed as disenfranchised and responsible for bearing more environmental consequences of natural hazards than there fellow residents. Much scholarship exists on examining the impact of natural hazards to communities like New Orleans. Chapter 5 is focused on quantifying the disproportionate impact groups such as African Americans have when facing natural hazards such as flash floods, hurricanes, and coastal erosion. This research also contributes to the understanding of how shelter locations may negatively impact work trip flows after a significantly disruptive event.

After the introduction in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 presents a literature review on community resilience, environmental justice,and street network analysis. These topics are studied to define current knowledge and substantive finds as well as situate this work’s contribution to existing knowledge. The origin, evolution, and issues of environmental justice that have plagued New Orleans are summarized in the literature review to set the motivation for work in Chapter 5. Multiple open source platforms and models are used to analyze resilience metrics for communities.

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