Transportation, disaster recovery models for tsunamis

Planning for Coastal Community Resilience to Tsunamis Using Transportation and Disaster Recovery Modeling

This project modeled community recovery trajectories for Pacific County, synthesizing current estimates of prospective loses, community input, and computer simulations in order to understand coastal community resilience.

Principal Investigator

Scott Miles, Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington

Co-Principal Investigators

Anne Goodchild, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington

Rebekah Green, Environmental Studies, Western Washington University


Washington’s outer coast faces serious seismic and tsunami hazards. Understanding and building community resilience to such crises entails examining recovery trajectories, in particular transportation disruption, restoration and reconstruction across multiple space and time scales. This project modeled such trajectories for Pacific County, synthesizing current estimates of prospective losses, community input, and computer simulations. These findings informed recovery plans and policies and strengthened local and regional partnerships.

Research Updates

Washington Sea Grant-supported researchers developed long-term simulation models of household migration and transportation and housing recovery following a disaster. They used U.S. census data, previously unreleased FEMA loss projections, and Pacific County parcel, school and business spatial data to characterize baseline travel behavior and potential earthquake and tsunami impacts on housing stock and passenger and freight transportation. Over the course of two years, they convened workshops with FEMA representatives, academic researchers and local officials, as well as stakeholders to discuss long-term recovery concerns and planning goals.

The workshops identified housing and transportation as primary post-recovery concerns in Pacific County. Researchers vetted the housing-recovery simulation in prototype and partly implemented it and completed implementation of the transportation-recovery simulation. The extensive data, compiled in GIS and spreadsheets, provided a foundation for exploring different disaster impact scenarios and their effects on recovery outcomes. Published and presented at the 2015 Natural Hazards Workshop and IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, these findings informed a growing cadre of researchers interested in long-term recovery simulation.