KU professor discusses how Tropical Storm Isaias clashes with COVID-19 pandemic

(Gerry Broome | AP)
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 6:14 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - A University of Kansas professor is discussing how Tropical Storm Isaias is clashing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Kansas says Ward Lyles, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, is currently conducting two research projects funded by the National Science Foundation that looks at how local communities reduce long-term risk from disaster events. It says one looks at local communities along the southeastern United States’ Atlantic coast are linking pre-disaster planning and recovery efforts, with detail on how communities dealt with back to back hurricanes Matthew and Florence. It says Isaias and COVID-19 only further complicate the challenges.

“Hurricane Isaias, coming on the heels of hurricanes Matthew and Florence, and on top of COVID, drives home the challenges of our climate change reality,” Lyles said. “Disasters cannot be treated as one-off, isolated events that individuals and communities simply bounce back from with a little outside help, which was a myth from the beginning. Instead, we must understand disasters as products of our social and economic choices, and we absolutely must revisit the fundamental errors in some of our assumptions about where we safely can put people, buildings and infrastructure.”

Lyles says his research examines local, collaborative efforts to reduce risks from natural hazards like hurricanes, floods and other hazards exacerbated by climate change. He says he teaches courses in sustainable land use, hazards and disasters, compassionate public service and how diversity, equity and inclusion play a role in all of them.

Lyles says he has published various scholarly articles on planning, including how empathy and care should play a central role in public planning, how failure to address long term land use issues makes certain areas vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding, reduce risk from natural hazards and how cities can adapt to climate change.

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