LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL (October 28, 2011) – Top researchers and engineers provided a preview of the most recent advancements and research shaping disaster preparedness during a panel discussion at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes® (FLASH) being held Oct. 26-28 at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Those participating in the panel discussion, Campus Report: Latest Academic and Research Advances, included Jay Baker, PhD, Geography Department, Florida State University; Forrest Masters, PhD, Civil and Coastal Engineering Department, University of Florida; Tim Reinhold, PhD, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS); and Paul Tertell, P.E., Project Officer, FEMA.  Moderator was Patrick F. Maroney of the Florida Catastrophic Storm Rick Management Center, Florida State University College of Business.

Dr. Baker spoke of his studies on how and why the public responds to hurricane threats. “Our current research involves interviews with coastal residents during actual hurricane threats and surveys to help understand how people arrive at their beliefs regarding their vulnerability to hurricanes,” said Baker, who is currently assisting Florida to update its behavioral assumptions for hurricane evacuation plans statewide.

Dr. Masters provided an advance look at research underway regarding the effects of wind and wind-driven rain on homes. “The major challenge regarding this issue is to better understand the lifecycles of the materials that go into a home and how to better characterize how these elements age regarding exposure to heat, rain and sun,” Masters said.

Dr. Reinhold previewed the latest demonstrations influencing residential and commercial structural design and construction for decades to come. “We’re recreating Mother Nature in the lab,” Reinhold said, “conducting research on wind effects and structural resistance.”

Tertell delved into the useful data left behind by the destructive tornadoes that ripped across the United States this past year – research invaluable in mitigating future damage. “The objectives of our Mitigation Assessment Teams are to see the damage quickly, document it, conduct forensic engineering analyses – all to determine the causes of building failure and successes,” Tertell said.  Ultimately, “we want to learn if we an be safer next time. If the answer is yes, then how so?”

With the theme Disaster Safety: One Movement, Many Voices, the 2011 FLASH Annual Meeting convened more than 100 of the nation’s leading experts in disaster safety, property loss mitigation and weather outcomes.

In a variety of presentations, panel discussions and demonstrations, meeting attendees are hearing and seeing the latest in innovative disaster safety and mitigation products, programs and impacts natural and man-made disasters have had on the U.S. economy and population at large. Prominent speakers include academics, builders, educators, emergency managers, engineers, researchers and scientists.