LU establishes Center for Resiliency

In response to the recent severe flooding activity in the region, Lamar University has announced the establishment of the Center for Resiliency. Approved and funded by the 87th legislative session, the Center for Resiliency will focus on research, community outreach and teaching to support the body of knowledge surrounding disaster preparation, mitigation and recovery, especially for major storm events.

The Gulf Coast of Texas is subject to major flooding from rivers, storm surges, and record-breaking rain in addition to other disasters, while hosting vital transportation corridors through its ports and rail and highway networks. The region also is home to major petrochemical, agricultural and other important industries as well as vibrant cultural and educational resources. During a recent 5-year period, the Southeast Texas region was declared a national disaster area and Interstate 10 was shut down four times. Along with impacts to Department of Defense asset deployment and other interests, the shutdowns from one recent flooding event alone was estimated to cost the US economy $4.5 billion per day. After Harvey, the region was subjected to Tropical Storm Imelda, a major chemical plant explosion, COVID-19 and Hurricane Laura. 
Dr. Liv Haselbach

“Managing before and during crises depends upon having up-to-date information and analytic capability, seeking to use the power of this timely information to predict what may happen or offer multiple scenarios for mitigation and response,” explained Liv Haselbach, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and future director of the LU Center for Resiliency. “Resiliency is not only about responding once a crisis occurs, but also encompasses how its impact is mitigated, and how responders anticipate resource supply, timing, and deployment in advance of a crisis. Resiliency preparation requires the best assembly of people and real time data, providing decision makers the tools they need to make more effective decisions prior to and during severe duress.”

The center presents a futuristic paradigm for higher education in Texas. While university services disseminate centralized information regionally, the Center for Resiliency provides a model for completing the circle, gathering regional information from numerous stakeholders, compiling, analyzing and then funneling the knowledge locally, regionally, statewide, and beyond. With limited resources for funding studies, the center will help optimize funding to bring together the best assembly of people and channeling vital information. This also will allow for more resources to focus on developing protocols for and responding to needs for prevention, mitigation and recovery.

With the support of former President Ken Evans, LU initiated the Southeast Texas Flood Coordination Study in 2019 to address storm-related disaster concerns with a vision to be a permanent center serving as a communication conduit, geospatial and infrastructure data collaborative, economic and research resource, and educational outlet along the Gulf Coast. Participants included counties, river authorities, cities, drainage districts, industry, state agencies and federal agencies. These participants and the initial financial support from Lamar University, including the Center for Advances in Port Management, the University of Texas, the Sabine River Authority and the Lower Neches Valley Authority provided the platform to apply for the Center for Resiliency, and state lawmakers recognized the importance of the effort and prioritized funding.