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More than survival, how can we map a path towards more resilient and just cities after natural disasters?

In the wake of the hurricanes in the Gulf and Florida, as well as the massive wildfires raging through the West Coast, Americans will be dealing with the aftermath, both economically and socially, of these natural disasters for decades to come. In a new article on Five Thirty Eight, Maggie Koerth-Baker, highlights the work of DUSP’s Mariana Arcaya, to emphasize that the health impacts of major natural disasters persist beyond the immediate event, sometimes for decades to come. To read the full article click here.

Intensifying natural disasters have long been a focus of the MIT Urban Risk Lab. During Hurricane Irma, a team at the Urban Risk Lab scraped social media data to build real time maps identifying locations where individuals trapped by the storm would be most at risk. Coverage of the Urban Risk Labs efforts can be found in Ken Hanly’s new piece via the Digital Journal, here and by MIT News, here.

The Urban Risk Lab is also addressing how community's recover from natural disasters, in a new project to research, design, and model safe, affordable, scalable housing solutions for multiple post-disaster contexts. The goal of their new research project is to design a housing assistance process that is both survivor-centric and cost-effective. The researchers are comprised of an interdisciplinary MIT team, including Miho Mazaereeuw (MIT Department of Architecture and director of the Urban Risk Lab), Caitlin Mueller (Department of Architecture, MIT), Stephen Graves (MIT Sloan School of Management) and Justin Steil (Department of Urban Studies and Planning).

How to plan and execute urban resilience, both for citizens and for the built environment, against natural disasters continues to be a persistent theme in DUSP graduate student theses and dissertations. For example: Sonja Boet-Whitaker (MCP ’17) examined how buyout programs in New York State, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, helped to increase citizen resiliency through effective buffer areas. Anna Doty (MCP ’17) examined how systems of oppression and injustice can be hidden within our response networks to natural disasters with her analysis of the labor force, comprised of both unionized and incarcerated firefighters, toiling against California’s wild fires. Dennis Harvey (MCP ’17) also examined post-Sandy buyout programs, but highlighted the differences between New York and New Jersey’s programs to promote opportunities for improvement. Keep an eye on the DUSP Facebook page this fall as we publish detailed synopsis and links to all the 2017 MCP theses.

Image credits: MIT Urban Risk Lab, Wiki Commons, US National Guard