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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

First Science Pub Focuses on Hurricane Sheltering and Evacuating During the Pandemic

By Dan Campbell

Hurricane season has arrived, and we are now faced with a new set of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at Old Dominion University have been analyzing evacuation and sheltering issues connected to these threats in conjunction with federal, state, local, nonprofit and research stakeholders from across the country.

Science Pubs continues online for the first event in its Fall 2020 series with "Hurricane Evacuation & Sheltering During COVID-19," scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Folks are asked to RSVPby Sept. 29 and will be emailed a Zoom link.

A diverse group of faculty from ODU, including Joshua Behr, associate research professor with the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC); Wie Yusuf, professor in the School of Public Service; and Nicole Hutton Shannon and Jennifer Whytlaw, assistant professors in the Department of Political Science and Geography, will discuss how the public health crisis has altered the perceptions and behaviors of the general population toward evacuation and sheltering.

"What we know about how people will respond to the threat of a hurricane is no longer valid in the world of COVID-19," Yusuf said. "For example, how do people mentally balance the need to leave their homes and evacuate to safety when we've been, for an extended period time, largely confined to our homes under the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders? How does that translate into a different approach to hurricane response in Hampton Roads and other coastal communities along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf Coast?"

The changes in the time of COVID-19 have stimulated reassessments of evacuation and sheltering from planning and emergency management perspectives. Oversight of these operations is complex and includes facilities, staffing, resources and supplies, logistics, transportation, security and care for clients, many of whom are in vulnerable populations.

Audience members will once again have to get creative for this Science Pub and supply their own beverages.

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