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Center for Natural Hazards Research




Working Papers

2010200920082007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004



The 16 April 2011 EF3 tornado in Greene County, eastern North Carolina
Thomas M. Rickenbach, Geography, East Carolina University

This paper presents a case study of an EF3 tornado that adversely impacted Greene and Pitt Counties in eastern North Carolina on 16 April 2011. This was one of the most
damaging and longest-lived of the multiple tornados that occurred across central and
eastern North Carolina that day, the most extensive outbreak in North Carolina since
1984. This event occurred during the month (April 2011) with the largest number of
tornadoes on record in the United States. The focus of this case study was to examine the relationship between the mesocyclone evolution and the location and intensity of surface damage associated with the EF3 tornado. Results indicated that the initial contraction and spin up of the mesocyclone circulation preceded EF3 damage by about 20 minutes. At the time of mesocyclone intensification, the damage swath and tornado were situated much closer to the mesocyclone center than in the formative and dissipating stages. The weakened mesocyclone passed directly over a meteorological station at East Carolina University’s West Research Campus, providing a rare opportunity for surface measurements associated with a weakening tornadic mesocyclone.


Changes in Implicit Flood Risk Premiums: Empirical Evidence from the Housing Market
Okmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University
Craig Landry, Economics, East Carolina University

Hedonic valuation models have shown that sales prices can capitalize property risk 
factors, such as flood zone; properties facing lower risk sell at a premium, all 
else being equal. Previous research has indicated that price differentials 
reflecting risk of flooding become much larger in the wake of a storm. For 
example, Bin and Polasky (Land Economics 2004) find that a house located within 
a floodplain in Pitt County, North Carolina has a lower market value than an 
equivalent house located outside the floodplain, and that the flood risk premium 
is significantly larger after Hurricane Floyd than before. We re-examine this 
finding using two storms within a difference-in-differences framework, and we 
compare flood zone price differentials for a more recent sample of Pitt County 
property sales. Prior to Hurricane Fran, we detect no market risk premium for 
presence in a flood zone, but we find significant price differentials after 
significant flooding events, amounting to a 5.7% decrease after Hurricane Fran 
and 8.8% decrease after Hurricane Floyd. Results from a separate model that 
examines more recent data that cover a period in which there were no significant 
storm impacts indicate a significant risk premium of -6.4% for homes in the 
flood zone, but this effect is diminishing over time, essentially disappearing 
about 6 years after Hurricane Floyd. The lack of a persistent effect suggests 
that buyers’ and sellers’ risk perceptions change with the prevalence of hazard 
events and that home buyers are unaware of flood risks and insurance 
requirements when bidding on properties.

Participation in the Community Ratings System of NFIP:
An Empirical Analysis of North Carolina Counties
Craig Landry, Economics, East Carolina University
Jingyuan Li, Doctoral Student, Coastal Resources Management
In order to motivate flood insurance purchase and promote flood hazard awareness and mitigation, the Community Rating System (CRS) of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), credits floodplain management activities and awards premium discounts for insurance purchase. CRS, however, has been marked by a lack of active participation since its inception. Little empirical evidence exists to shed light on what factors influence the local adoption of hazard mitigation activities. The objective of this project is to provide such evidence through an examination of patterns in CRS participation in 100 North Carolina counties from 1991 to 1996. Specifically, we examine the influence of flood experience, hydrological risk, local capacity, and socioeconomic factors on county hazard mitigation decisions. Results indicate that flood experience and physical risk factors increase likelihood of local hazard mitigation adoption. We find evidence that the proportion of senior citizens within a county has negative influence on CRS participation, and that flood hazard mitigation activities at the county level are more likely when a greater number of nested of municipalities participate.

Risk Preferences, Risk Perceptions, and Demand for Flood Insurance
Craig Landry, Economics, East Carolina University
Daniel Petrolia, Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University (corresponding author)
Keith Coble, Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University
Expected utility and other theories of decision making under risk indicate that probability and magnitude of loss are important determinants of behavior in risky environments. We combine information on flood insurance demand with household-level experiment-based risk preference and subjective risk perception data. We find that residing in the SFHA (100-year flood zone) has the largest impact on the probability of holding a flood policy, and this effect is particularly strong for mortgaged homes. Expectations on hurricane damage and eligibility for disaster assistance, as well as perceived credibility of insurance providers, have a positive and significant effect on the likelihood of holding a flood policy. Our measure of risk aversion was found to be positive and significant (but only in the loss domain), indicating that individuals that display risk-averse behavior in an experimental context also manifest relatively more risk-averse behavior in the revealed choice of buying flood insurance. Overall, this work represents one of very few analyses of flood insurance demand over a wide geographic area and including individuals exposed to varying risk levels using household-level data that accounts for both risk preference and subjective risk perceptions, as well as objective risk exposure. Our results provide empirical evidence that models of choice under risk that ignore subjective risk factors likely suffer from omitted variable misspecification.


Natural forces render the coastal environment an evolving landscape, with the majority of coastline in the U.S. exhibiting net erosion in recent decades. Predictions suggest that 25 percent of homes within 500 feet of the coast could be lost to erosion in the next 60 years, at a potential cost of $530 million dollars each year. Following a lengthy tradition of economic models for natural resource management, this paper explores dynamic optimization models for managing coastal erosion. The models conceptualize benefits of beach area as service flows accruing to nearby residential property owners, recreational beach users, and local businesses.
Geovisualization for Storm Surge Risk Communication [420 KB] 
Thomas Allen, Geography, East Carolina University 
Stephen Sanchagrin, RENCI, East Carolina University
With North Carolina being one of the most at risk states in North America for both direct and indirect hurricane strikes it is important that decision makers and the public have the best possible accurate and appropriate information. Emergency managers have expressed interest new visualization techniques of storm surge in the hopes to better communicate risks and encourage compliance with evacuation of the general public. Two storm surge models, SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) and ADICRC (ADvanced CIRCulation), are evaluated for potential to visualize storm surges for risk communication. This project also critically investigates the appropriateness and tradeoffs for spatial characterization within GIS, data models, and data structures. Issues with both models such as grid resolution, temporal resolution, generalization, and storage volumes will be discussed, with emphasis on visualizing in GIS. The future of storm surge visualization will be examined with experimental examples of 3D-storm surge maps, animations, and online applications.
Social Capital and the Provision of Disaster Assistance to Employees and Community by Local Businesses: The Case of Hurricane Floyd [513 KB] 
Jessama E. Allender, M.A., East Carolina University 

Bob Edwards, Sociology, East Carolina University
This study examines the role of social capital in predicting the provision of disaster relief efforts by local businesses. The analysis will also examine the role of social capital in predicting the receipt of assistance to local businesses following a natural disaster. This empirical analysis draws from a dataset of 462 local businesses operating in Pitt County, North Carolina, surveyed shortly after Hurricane Floyd. The analysis utilizes OLS multivariate regression.

Redistributional Impacts of the National Flood Insurance Program
 [92 KB] 
Okmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University 

John A. Bishop, Economics, East Carolina University
Carolyn Kousky, Resources for the Future
This study examines the redistributional impacts of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) using a national database of the premium, coverage, and claim payments at the county level between 1980 and 2006. We focus on two general classes of progressivity measures which include the net redistributive effect of the program and the departure from proportionality in the NFIP structure. Our findings indicate that the net redistributive effect of program is positive and significant, implying that NFIP is equity-enhancing although the effects are quite small. The departure from proportionality indicates that the payouts, not the premiums, are the source of the net redistributive progressivity of the NFIP. We find no evidence of NFIP disproportionally advantaging richer counties. 


Valuing Beach Quality with Hedonic Property Models  [210 KB] 
Craig E. Landry, Economics, East Carolina University 

Paul Hindsley, Environmental Studies, Eckerd College 
This paper explores the influence of beach quality on coastal property values. We hypothesize that beach and dune width provide local public goods in the form of recreation potential and storm/erosion protection, but services are limited by distance from the shoreline. Our findings support this hypothesis, as extending the influence of beach quality beyond 300 meters from the shore generally results in statistically insignificant parameter estimates. For houses within this proximity bound, beach and dune width increases property value. We argue that interpretation of MWTP for beach quality depends upon individual understanding of coastal processes and expectations of management intervention. 
Weathering the Storm: Measuring Household Willingness-to-Pay for Risk-Reduction in Post-Katrina New Orleans [381 KB] 
Craig E. Landry, Economics, East Carolina University 

Paul Hindsley, Environmental Studies, Eckerd College 
Okmyung Li, Economics, East Carolina University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University 

John C. Whitehead, Economics, Appalachian State University
Kenneth R. Wilson, Sociology, East Carolina University 
The city of New Orleans suffered extensive damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina overwhelmed the natural and built environment, inundating the city. As rebuilding proceeds, decisions on investment in protective measures will include the choice of lines of defense and the storm severity that design criteria should meet. An exhaustive list of protective measures has been studied in planning documents such as the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Technical Report (2009), with public comment solicited in town hall meetings. In this study we employ a different approach to examine public sentiment towards the selection and investment in protective measures...

Estimating Economic Impact from Inlet Formation [131 KB] 
Hans Vogelsong, Recreation & Leisure Studies, East Carolina University 

Average per person per day spending by visitors to the Outer Banks has been derived through recent and on-going research projects. The purpose of this project will be to determine the loss of economic impact due to loss of access in the form of new inlet formation. This will be accomplished through mapping and inventorying visitor accommodations and amenities on the outer banks and determining which of these would no longer be accessible in the case of inlet formation due to a storm event. With the location of probable inlet formations provided through other phases of this project, we can estimate the daily loss of income that results from loss of access to different sites within the region. Direct, indirect, and induced economic impact losses will be calculated and presented on a per day basis for all sites where inlet formations are likely...

Flood Insurance Coverage in the Coastal Zone [252 KB] 
Craig E. Landry, Economics, East Carolina University
Mohammad Jahan-Parvar, Economics, East Carolina University 

We use a generalized linear model (GLM) framework to explore behavior and test theory regarding the determinants of flood insurance coverage in the coastal zone using micro-level data for nine southeastern U.S. counties. National Flood Insurance Program rate schedules are utilized to determine exogenous marginal insurance premiums that reflect specific property attributes (e.g. flood zone, building codes, elevation, presence of basement, etc.). Our baseline empirical model accounts for both the extensive and intensive margin of flood insurance demand, and includes objective flood risk factors and an estimate of value for the asset at risk...

Measuring the Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on Coastal Real Estate in North Carolina [976 KB] 
Okmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University
This study uses a unique integration of geospatial information and economic data to estimate the impacts of sea level rise on North Carolina coastal real estate. North Carolina’s coastal plain is one of several large terrestrial systems around the world threatened by rising sea level. Rates of sea level rise in this region are approximately double the global average due to local subsidence. Projected sea level rise is expected to significantly affect the natural and economic systems. ...

Measuring the Economic Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on Marine Recreational Shore Fishing in North Carolina [321 KB] 
John C. Whitehead, Economics, Appalachian State University
Chris Dumas, Economics, UNC Wilmington 
In this study we develop estimates of the economic effects of climate change-induced sea level rise on marine recreational shore fishing in North Carolina. We estimate the relationship between angler behavior and spatial differences in beach width using Marine Recreation Fishing Statistics Survey and geospatial data. We exploit this relationship by simulating the effects of sea level rise on beach width and beach width on angler behavior...

Social Capital and Business Giving to Charity Following a Natural Disaster: An Empirical Assessment [134 KB]   
Okmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University
Bob Edwards, Economics, East Carolina University
This study examines the participation of local businesses in disaster relief efforts in their own communities. We utilize a unique survey of 463 businesses in Pitt County, North Carolina, collected shortly after devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Floyd. Our results indicate that managerial social capital especially through religious participation is positively related to provision of assistance to employees as well as making cash contributions and the value of cash donations...



The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Extreme Daily Precipitation Over the U.S. and Mexico During the Hurricane Season PDF file [846 KB]
Scott Curtis, Geography, East Carolina University
The tail of the distribution of daily precipitation for August-September-October was examined over the United States and Mexico in relation to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). As expected from previous studies linking the AMO to hurricane activity, Florida and the coastal Southeast U.S. showed an increase in precipitation intensity when the Atlantic was in a warm phase (AMO+). Also during AMO+ Northwest Mexico was dry and exhibited a reduction of extreme events and the Mid-Atlantic Appalachian Mountains showed evidence...

Trauma written in the flesh: Tattoos as memorials and stories PDF file [176 KB] 
Glen W. Gentry, Geography, Syracuse University
Derek H. Alderman, Geography, East Carolina University 
It is entirely too early to begin summing up the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and the larger Gulf Coast. It is misleading to even talk about the disaster merely in terms of “Hurricane Katrina,” for the hurricane itself caused little damage compared to what happened after the breach of the levees. No doubt, the storm played an active role in the flooding; however, it is unhelpful to call it simply a natural disaster. Over a hundred of years of political and environmental policy went into shaping the storm’s aftermath...

Going Home: Evacuation-Migration Decisions of Hurricane Katrina Survivors PDF file [397 KB] 
Craig E. Landry, Economics, East Carolina University
Okmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University 
Paul Hindsley, East Carolina University 
John Whitehead, Economics, Appalachian State University 
Kenneth Wilson, Sociology, East Carolina University
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many evacuees from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama began the difficult process of deciding whether to rebuild or restart elsewhere. In this paper, we examine pre-Katrina Gulf residents’ decision to return to the post-disaster Gulf region—which we call the “return migration” decision. We estimate two separate return migration models, first utilizing data from a mail survey of individuals in the affected region and then focusing on self-administered questionnaires of evacuees in Houston...

Willingness to Pay for Risk Reduction and Amenities: Applications of the Hedonic Price Method in the Coastal Zone PDF file [145 KB] 
Craig E. Landry, Economics, East Carolina University 
Paul Hindsley, East Carolina University
Expansion of development along US shorelines has put increased pressure on coastal ecosystems. As a result, many shoreline ecosystem services have been degraded or lost. As coastal populations become more vulnerable to natural hazards, policy makers search for methods to evaluate the benefits and costs of different shoreline alternatives. In this paper, we describe hedonic property models as one method for measuring the benefits and costs of shoreline alternatives...



Valuing Spatially Integrated Amenities and Risks in Coastal Housing Markets PDF file [928 KB] 
InOkmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University 
Tom Crawford, Geography, East Carolina University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University 
Craig E. Landry, Economics, East Carolina University
In this study, we construct a three-dimensional measure of view, accounting for natural topography and built obstructions, that varies independent of the risk to disentangle these spatially integrated housing characteristics. A spatial hedonic model is developed to provide consistent estimates of the willingness to pay for coastal amenities and risk. Findings suggest an alternative to the Hallstrom and Smith approach that incorporates the multiple dimensions of spatial attributes can be successful in isolating risk from amenities on the coast...

Real Estate Market Response to Coastal Flood Hazard PDF file [791 KB] 
Okmyung Bin, Economics, East Carolina University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University

This study uses a hedonic property price method to estimate the effects of flood hazard on residential property values. We utilize digital flood maps coupled with extensive residential property sales records between September 2000 and September 2004 from Carteret County, North Carolina. Results indicate that location within a flood zone lowers property values anywhere between 5% and 10% in areas not subject to wave action and that location within a flood zone vulnerable to wave action is associated with higher property values...



Valuing Self Protection: Income and Certification Effects for Safe Rooms PDF file [365 KB] 
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University

Survey data from Tulsa, Oklahoma residents is used to examine individual valuations of safe rooms. We use two measures of individual valuations, the maximum willingness to pay (WTP) and willingness to accept (WTA) for safe rooms. The primary research questions are concerned with whether the willingness to pay measure exhibits income effects and whether certification standards make the safe room investment more desirable...

Hurricane Insurer Event Study PDF file [647 KB]
[Forthcoming in
Weather and Forecasting
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University 
Scott E. Hein, Bank Management and Finance, Texas Tech University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University

This research uses an event study methodology to examine the effect of Hurricane Floyd on the market value of insurance firms. Information describing the development of the storm over time and space is incorporated in order to determine how the financial market reacts to changing news about a storm's characteristics. Results indicate that there is an overall negative effect on insurer stock price changes around the synoptic life cycle of the storm; however this effect is not constant nor is it always negative on each day of the cycle...

Hurricanes and Unemployment PDF file [373 KB]
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University

This research examines the economic impact of hurricanes on Wilmington, NC, during the decade of the 1990s. An econometric time series model of the unemployment rate is estimated that includes a set of variables designed to estimate both the immediate and the long-term effects of hurricanes on the Wilmington labor market. Results suggest that hurricanes may have a short run adverse impact on a community; however, these storms may also be associated with a long run positive impact on economic activity...

Spatial Dependencies in Wind-Related Housing Damage PDF file [883 KB] 
Dakshina G. De Silva
, Economics, Texas Tech University 
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University 
Yongsheng Wang, Economics, Texas Tech University
This paper examines the spatial dependence among housing losses due to tornadoes using data from the May 1999 Oklahoma City tornado. In order to examine the existence of spatial dependence and its impacts on the damage analysis, we compare an estimation based on a traditional ordinary least square model with the general spatial model. Results show that housing damage in this disaster area is highly correlated...

The Potential Economic Benefits of Integrated and Sustainable Ocean Observation Systems: The Southeast Atlantic Region PDF file [225 KB]
Christopher F. Dumas, Economics, UNC Wilmington
John C. Whitehead, Economics, Appalachian State University
The South East Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System (SEACOOS) collects, manages and disseminates coastal oceanic and atmospheric observation information along the Atlantic coast of the southeastern United States. This paper estimates the benefits of SEACOOS information in eleven benefit categories. Following a methodology used in similar studies of other U.S. coastal regions, we evaluate the impacts of conservative changes in economic activity in each sector. The annual economic benefit of SEACOOS information is $170 million (2003 $'s), an estimate that falls between annual benefits of $33 million for the Gulf of Maine region and $381 million for the Gulf of Mexico.



An Empirical Investigation of the Corpus Christi Unemployment Rate and Hurricane Bret PDF file [293 KB]
[Revised version published in
Natural Hazards Review Vol 6 No. 4, November 2005, pp 191-196]
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University
Mark A. Thompson, Economics, Austin State University

A time series econometric model of the Corpus Christi unemployment rate is estimated that includes an intervention variable to capture the impact and recovery activity associated with hurricane Bret in August 1999. The results suggest that Corpus Christi’s labor market improved following the hurricane, controlling for business cycle trends and general movements in the economy...

Time Series Analysis of Wind Speed Using VAR and the Generalized Impulse Response Technique PDF file [419 KB]
[In press; forthcoming in
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University
John L. Schroeder, Geosciences and Wind Sciences, Texas Tech University
Douglas A. Smith, Civil Engineering and Wind Science, Texas Tech University
This research examines the interdependence in time series wind speed data measured in the same location at four different heights. A multiple-equation system known as a vector autoregression is proposed for characterizing the time series dynamics of wind. Additionally, the recently developed method of generalized impulse response analysis provides insight into the cross-effects of the wind series and their responses to shocks...

Time Series Analysis of Wind Speed with Time-Varying Turbulence PDF file [453 KB]
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University
John L. Schroeder, Geosciences and Wind Science, Texas Tech University
This research investigates the first and second moments of the Texas Tech WERFL wind speed data utilizing the ARMA-GARCH-in-mean framework. This methodology allows the conditional variance to depend on the size of past shocks (i.e., gusts) in the series. Results have important implications for wind energy production as well as for the operational and financial hedging strategies of firms exposed to wind-related risk...

GROWTH AND RISK: Employment Responses to the Oklahoma City Tornado PDF file [630 KB]
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University
Mark A. Thompson, Economics, Austin State University

This research examined the impact of the May 3, 1999 tornado on the Oklahoma City labor market. We estimated time series models that allow for time-varying variance in employment growth and include intervention variables designed to capture both the initial impact and long run effects of the tornado. The analysis also examined the effect of the weather event on eight industrial sectors. Findings suggests that Oklahoma City and surrounding communities that make up the Metropolitan Statistical Area survived the disaster without suffering any long run adverse labor market effects. Results indicate that at least in the aggregate, the labor market improved...

Local Housing Price Index Analysis in Wind-Disaster-Prone Areas PDF file [466 KB]
Bradley T. Ewing, Operations Management, Texas Tech University
Jamie B. Kruse, Economics, East Carolina University
Yongsheng Wang, Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, Texas Tech University

This study examines the effect of severe wind events on the mean and variance of housing price indices of six metropolitan statistical areas that are vulnerable to hurricanes and/or tornadoes. An econometric time series model that captures the housing market responses to severe wind storms is utilized. As expected, the statistical findings indicate an immediate but short-lived decline in housing prices following a tornado or hurricane. Somewhat surprising is the result that the impact on the housing market is remarkably consistent whether the wind event was a hurricane or a tornado...


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