Measuring Public Health Impacts After Disasters

Two months after Hurricane Harvey submerged much of metropolitan Houston, recovery is under way across the city. Residents and volunteers are gutting and restoring flooded homes. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are announcing cleanup programs and developing plans to distribute relief funds.

I am an epidemiologist, and my work focuses on understanding the causes and distribution of illnesses, injuries and deaths among different populations – a critical issue during and after major disasters. Our work starts when the water recedes: We want to find out how well residents were prepared before the storm, and what kinds of health impacts they may be experiencing now or can expect in the future. If they still have unmet needs, we can connect them with information and resources.

Researchers are at work across Texas in areas impacted by Harvey. Here’s what some of us are doing.

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