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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI experts available to comment on various aspects of Hurricane Katrina aftermath

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 1, 2005 – The University of Rhode Island offers several experts who can provide insight and commentary on various aspects of hurricane Katrina and its aftermath:

Mass Evacuation of New Orleans – Natacha Thomas, a professor of civil engineering, is in the midst of a research project on the mass evacuation of New Orleans, focusing on the socio-economic issues involved (i.e. who gets evacuated and who gets left behind). She says New Orleans is the most vulnerable place in the country.

Hurricane Forecasting/Intensity – Isaac Ginis, professor of oceanography, was the first scientist to recognize the important role the ocean plays in the path and intensity of hurricanes. His hurricane forecasting model has been the most accurate of the models used by the National Hurricane Center in the last two years.

Coastal Development, Ecological Impact in Mississippi/Alabama -- Barry Costa-Pierce, director of the RI Sea Grant program, is the former director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant program and has extensive knowledge about coastal development in the region and can discuss the ecological and economic impact of the hurricane.

Coastal Erosion -- Jon Boothroyd, professor of geology, studies coastal geology and erosion and can discuss the hurricane’s impact on beaches, wetlands and the rest of the coastline and how lessons learned there can be applied in New England and elsewhere.

Structural Safety/Reliability – George Tsiatis and Mayrai Gindy are civil engineering professors who study the safety and reliability of bridges and other structures. They can discuss the impact the hurricane had on these structures and how to know whether a bridge or building is safe to use.

Mental Health Care - James Campbell, director of the URI Counseling Center, has extensive experience counseling victims of man-made and natural disasters, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the crash of the Egypt airliner and the Mississippi River flooding. He can address the psychological impact of the hurricane devastation on victims and aid workers.

Media Coverage – Linda Levin, professor of journalism, can provide insight on the print, broadcast and Internet coverage of the hurricane and its aftermath.

Coastal Hazards – The National Sea Grant Library, based at the University of Rhode Island, has an online Coastal Hazards Digital Library available at that includes documents from around the country on hurricane preparedness, impacts, reconstruction, etc.

To contact any of these experts, please call the URI News Bureau at 401-874-2116.