February 29, 2012

Media Advisory -- Hazards Expert Available

News organizations are welcome to contact an expert on natural hazard planning and mitigation at Southern Illinois University Carbondale whose team recently worked with officials in Saline County, which was devastated by today’s (Feb. 29) tornado.

Nicholas Pinter, professor of geology at SIU Carbondale, heads the Natural Hazards Research and Mitigation Group in that department. The group is working with Saline County organizations on producing that county’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, including a meeting as recently as Feb. 21.  The group is part of a federal effort to prepare communities in advance of disasters such as today’s tornadoes in an effort to reduce damage and loss of life.

Pinter can be reached at his office at 618/453-7375 or after business hours at 618/549-0915. His email address is npinter@geo.siu.edu.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Pinter said local efforts would focus on rescue and recovery. Rebuilding, however, will present many opportunities for reducing the effects of future disasters.

“In Southern Illinois it’s never a question of if the next flood or tornado will strike, but only when,” Pinter said.

Pinter’s group and Saline County officials recently discussed several strategies for reducing the potentially damaging and deadly effects of a tornado, including strengthening critical facilities, improving communication infrastructure and constructing tornado shelters for the county's most vulnerable populations. 

During the months following today’s disaster, SIU Carbondale will continue working with Saline County and other officials in that area to find ways of funding and implementing such strategies to protect against future events.