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$1.4M to fund superstorm Sandy social-science projects

Cars are left embedded in sand left after

Cars are left embedded in sand left after a storm surge roared into the streets of Long Beach during megastorm Sandy. (Oct. 30, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Federal and state authorities Thursday announced $1.4 million in funding for 10 social science research projects relating to superstorm Sandy, including one out of Hofstra University examining the evacuation of Long Beach.

The projects -- awarded by Sea Grant programs in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration initiative -- aim to improve response and community understanding of hazard warnings.

Emergency officials found after the October 2012 storm that despite the accuracy of forecasts, residents in various communities either did not fully understand the treacherous conditions coming their way or chose not to evacuate. Long Beach was a primary example, and thousands of residents were left without power and sewage service after the storm.

"This work should lead to an improved response from coastal residents in the face of impending storms," Peyton Robertson, NOAA's chair of the Sandy Assessment Team, said in a news release. "A better understanding of the true implications of extreme weather threats like Sandy is a step forward in building a weather-ready nation."

The Hofstra study will focus on Long Beach residents' evacuation decision-making.

"The goal is to create improved guidelines for the specific language used by government officials and weather authorities to relay coastal storm information, risk assessment and evacuation recommendations," the study description says.

Other projects, funded by Sandy supplemental aid, will look at the role social networking played in communicating, forecasting evacuation behavior and measuring how people respond to warning messages coming in rapid succession.

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