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Experts available to the media for stories related to flooding in the Midwest

May 21st, 2019

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Severe flooding that has impacted northwest Missouri and communities along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers will go on for some time due to continued snowmelt and heavy rain. Hundreds of Missouri families have already lost their homes, crops have been damaged and compromised levees have left more communities at risk. Universities across the UM System offer the following experts for the media for stories concerning the recent flooding.

MU Experts

Community emergency response: Conne Burnham, director of MU Extension’s Community Emergency Management Program, can discuss the educational resources and technical assistance MU Extension provides to communities during and after natural disasters.

Disaster resilience and media coverageJennifer First, mental health program manager at the MU Disaster and Community Crisis Center, can provide expertise on identifying factors and resources that foster disaster resilience, such as physical resources, supportive relationships, optimism and problem-solving. Brian Houston, director of the center, can discuss a recent study where MU researchers found that media coverage of disasters can have lasting effects on children’s mental health.

Insurance implications: Robert Jerry, the Isidor Loeb Professor of Law at MU, is an expert in dispute resolution, including insurance claims processing and insurance law. He can discuss both flood risk and flood insurance from a legal perspective.

Impact to cropsPat Westhoff, the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute director, can discuss how farmers’ crops have been impacted by storage facilities destroyed by floods.

UM System Experts

Disaster sensing and response: ZhiQiang Chen, associate professor of civil engineering at UMKC, researches the use of drones during disasters, such as flooding, to quickly transmit content to an emergency response center.

Evacuation and infrastructure: Praveen Edara, professor of civil and environmental engineering at MU, teaches and conducts research in the areas of transportation systems and traffic safety. He can speak to general issues related to evacuations during flooding.

Historical context: Andrew Hurley, professor of history at UMSL, is an expert on environmental history and currently is researching climate change and urbanization. He can discuss flooding from a historical perspective.

Rerouting traffic during floods: Suzanna Long, chair and professor of engineering management and systems engineering, and Steven Corns, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering at Missouri S&T, are using a form of artificial intelligence to develop forecasting tools to integrate rising water as part of evacuation route planning in flood-prone areas. They hope to develop algorithms to reroute traffic around flooded roadways in real-time.

Land and infrastructure impact and solutionsJerry Richardson, associate professor of civil engineering at UMKC, can discuss post-flooding environmental issues. He creates elaborate models to build preventative flooding solutions.

Dam and levee failures, and flood-control practicesJ. David Rogers, the Missouri S&T Karl F. Hasselmann Missouri Chair in geological engineering, is an expert on the geoforensics of dam and levee failures and flood control. He can discuss the evolution of flood control practice, dam and levee failures, and landslide dams.

Health care: Christopher Sampson, associate clinical professor of emergency medicine at MU, and Amy Stubbs, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UMKC, can discuss emergency medical responses to flooding.

Water resource planning and management: Donald Sweeney, professor emeritus of supply chain and analytics, formerly worked for the Army Corps of Engineers before coming to UMSL and has more than 40 years of experience in nearly all aspects of water resource planning and management, including flooding and related issues. He can speak to how flooding impacts supply chain and logistics management.

Natural disasters and traumaRachel Wamser-Nanney, assistant professor of psychological sciences at UMSL, is an expert on trauma. She can speak to the impact of natural disasters, post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma-focused interventions.