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Member Research and Reports

Texas A&M: Personally Impacted by Rushing Flood Waters, Dr. Garett Sansom to Develop First Flash Flood Casualty Database in Hopes of Developing Better Safety Interventions

Four years after rescuing his own father from rushing floodwaters in central Texas, Dr. Garett Sansom, research assistant professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, will participate in a project aimed at analyzing the causes of flash flood deaths and injuries.

Researchers have been awarded $350,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a three-year project that will collect large sets of data related to flash floods. Previous research has been successful in collecting data on deaths and injuries related to hurricanes and other natural disasters. However, there is no reliable data that details the number of deaths and injuries related to flash floods. After collecting this data, the ultimate goal is to create the first database detailing the number and precise location of flash flood deaths and injuries. In addition, the database will include topography, road conditions, as well as the populations’ general perceptions of the risks involved in flash floods such as what their vehicle is capable of in flood conditions.

According to the National Weather Service, the Texas Hill Country is the most flash flood-prone region in the country and has fast become known as “Flash Flood Alley.” Dr. Sansom will lead a team that will identify the preparedness of vulnerable communities in flash floods in this area and meet with local nonprofits to discover the demographics of people who are dying from flash floods. The team of Texas A&M researchers will focus on Wimberley, TX, and parts of San Antonio, TX.

“Understanding how people behave during flash floods will allow us to eventually create a database with more precise information related to flash flood causalities and use the data we collect to develop future safety interventions,” Dr. Sansom said.

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