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The aim of this study was to provide insights learned from disaster research response (DR2) efforts following Hurricane Harvey in 2017 to launch DR2 activities following the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) fire in Deer Park, Texas, in 2019.
A multidisciplinary group of academic, community, and government partners launched a myriad of DR2 activities.
The DR2 response to Hurricane Harvey focused on enhancing environmental health literacy around clean-up efforts, measuring environmental contaminants in soil and water in impacted neighborhoods, and launching studies to evaluate the health impact of the disaster. The lessons learned after Harvey enabled rapid DR2 activities following the ITC fire, including air monitoring and administering surveys and in-depth interviews with affected residents.
Embedding DR2 activities at academic institutions can enable rapid deployment of lessons learned from one disaster to enhance the response to subsequent disasters, even when those disasters are different. Our experience demonstrates the importance of academic institutions working with governmental and community partners to support timely disaster response efforts. Efforts enabled by such experience include providing health and safety training and consistent and reliable messaging, collecting time-sensitive and critical data in the wake of the event, and launching research to understand health impacts and improve resiliency.
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