A research team from the University of Texas at Dallas and Rice University will be in Brownwood from Thursday this week until Saturday, Oct. 10, to study residents’ preparedness for natural disasters.
Led by Dr. Catherine Eckel, an economics professor at UTD, and Dr. Rick Wilson, a political science professor at Rice, the focus of the project is on the ways citizens and public officials view natural disasters such as tornadoes and flooding for central towns and disasters such as hurricanes for coastal towns.
“We will be giving an extensive survey that asks questions about the way people are prepared and their previous experiences with disasters,” Eckel said.
“We will also give them the opportunity to participate in an activity that gives participants the chance to earn money,” Eckel said.
The researchers will be using the data they collect from the surveys to learn how residents and officials plan and are prepared for such events.
“We want to understand better what motivates people to be prepared for disasters and try to help them prepare better in the future,” Eckel said.
The team of researchers from both Universities will be knocking on doors of randomly selected households in selected neighborhoods. A hangtag will be left on doors with information on the study. Later, the researchers will return to sign up one volunteer for each household.
“We are recruiting door to door. Sometimes people are afraid or suspicious but we want them to know this is a legitimate study,” Eckel said.
Not only will the team be researching residents, but according to Eckel, they will also be interviewing a sample of public officials and town representatives.
Although households were chosen randomly, Brownwood itself was not. It was chosen along with a town along the coast, the researchers say, because of its central location and its size.
“We were looking for small to medium towns, towns in the 18,000 to 20,000 population range,” Eckel said.
“We also looked for a good mix of industrial and service employment. We wanted one coastal town and one central town away from the coast,” Eckel said.
Sessions for the project will be held at the Adams Street Community Center. Those who participate will sign up for a specific day and time and will be given $20 for showing up on time.