Type keyword:  
| |
Press Release  
Release Date: Friday, May 10, 2013 11:52 AM
Howard University Logo  
Media Contact:

Ron Harris
Director of Communications
NCAS Researches Sociological Impact of Hurricane Sandy
Photo credit: Courtesy of Howard University

WASHINGTON (April 29, 2013) – Hurricane Sandy and its destruction have largely moved out of the media headlines, replaced by more recent news events.  But for New York and New Jersey residents still dealing with devastation in itswake, it remains fresh.

It is fresh too for the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) at Howard University.  NCAS is exploring the sociological impacts of the storm on residents and how and why people responded to the oncoming storm as part of its research on how weather and climate impact society.

NCAS recently surveyed some of the communities in the New Jersey and New York areas that were affected by the October storm, which flooded New York’s subway system, destroyed more than 100 homes, left 53 people dead and caused $18 billion in damages, lost wages and income.

Terri Adams, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, said the team of natural and social scientists from Howard are examining the storm on a number of levels.

“When a disaster happens, there are multiple layers of devastation that can impact an individual or a community,” Adams said.  “A focus of the research is to examine how people respond to or take calls to action before a disaster.  Then we examine how people respond to the disaster after it has happened.”

The research is a collaborative effort being conducted by scholars in both the social and natural sciences.   Adams will lead the social science research alongside Carolyn Stroman, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Communications and Culture, Tia Tyree, Ph.D., associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Journalism, and Cynthia Winston, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology.  

Everette Joseph, Ph.D., NCAS deputy director, director of Beltsville Center for Climate and Systems Observations and professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will lead the natural science research.

They are working in conjunction with Vernon Morris, Ph.D., director of NCAS and professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Bill Stockwell, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry

Members from the team spent three days visiting Atlantic City, N.J., and Breezy Point and Staten Island in New York talking with residents about Hurricane Sandy and their personal experiences.

“We found that Hurricane Sandy had devastating effects on the impacted communities,” Adams said. “The normal things that we take for granted on a day-to-day basis, like running water and electricity, were wiped out.  It damaged a number of homes to the point where residents were basically forced to move out of their homes and relocate to other communities.”

NCAS is funded by NOAA.  NCAS research supports NOAA’s mission and provides educational opportunities for students.

“With the social science research, we’re trying to find out what are some of the things that motivate people to takeprotective action and what are some of the most effective communication tools that will encourage people to process the information and respond accordingly, so that we can share these findings with NOAA,” Adams said.

In addition to their findings of large community displacement, the group also gathered preliminary findings that support the idea that social class might affect people’s responses todisasters, Adams said.  

“If you look at some of the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, you see large numbers of white Americans who were not necessarily left behind, but chose to stay behind,” she said. “So, what we’re trying to do is disentangle why people make those choices, and we think that there might be some race, class and gender implications associated with this phenomenon.”

The research is a part of the larger, interdisciplinary research efforts taking place among the scientists of NCAS that will explore several different natural disaster sites. The research is still in its developmental stage, Adams said, and the group has plans to return to the New York and New Jersey areas to gather additional data.


Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at

 Howard University Office of University Communications,
2225 Georgia Ave. NW,
Suite 603, Washington, D.C. 20059
Webmaster / Contacts
- WWW Disclaimer
Follow Howard U.on :
Facebook Twitter Blog
free html visitor counters