University of Florida

Florida Sea Grant website features new flood insurance link

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Economics, Environment, Extension, Weather

Santa Fe River, flooded dirt road. (UF/IFAS Photo by Thomas Wright)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With tropical storm season in full swing, it’s a great time to think about flood insurance. A new feature on the Florida Sea Grant website puts you a mouse click way from information to help you understand flood insurance, why it’s important, whether you’re required to have it and how to get it.

The link, www.flseagrant.org/flood-insurance, gives you tips about this type of protection that all property owners need, said Florida Sea Grant Coastal Planning Specialist Thomas Ruppert.

Whether you live along the coast, in a flood-prone area or 200 to 300 feet above sea level, your property may flood.

“Flooding has to do with drainage,” said Ruppert. Just because you live farther from the coast or at higher elevation, does not mean you won’t flood. Flooding can occur almost anywhere under the right condition and land does not have to be in a low-lying area to flood, said Ruppert.

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UF/IFAS experts available for 2015 hurricane season

Topic(s): Crops, Disaster Preparedness, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Forestry, IFAS, Weather

Videos available:


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The following University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences sources are available to speak to news media about a range of storm- and hurricane-related topics:

Hurricane and other natural disaster preparation: Mike Spranger, a professor in family, youth and community sciences, can give tips on how to prepare for any kind of natural disaster. He adapted a Gulfwide version of the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards for Florida residents. The book has basic background on tornados, tropical storms, hurricanes, floods and wildfires, and covers everything from hurricane clips to what to keep in your pantry and what to take with you during an evacuation. 352-273-3557; spranger@ufl.edu.

Rebuilding/maintaining sand dunes: Deborah Miller, a professor of wildlife ecology and conservation based at UF’s West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton, has studied the best ways to rebuild sand dunes destroyed by hurricanes. 850-983-7128, ext. 104; dlmi@ufl.edu.

Tree protection: Ed Gilman, a professor with the environmental horticulture department, is an expert in tree health and storm damage to trees. He can address topics such as mitigation efforts, restoring trees following storms, tree replacement, pruning methods to reduce damage potential, preventive pruning to protect homes and other personal property, and evaluation of tree health after hurricanes. 352-262-9165; egilman@ufl.edu.

Hurricane effects on Florida agriculture: Jonathan Crane, a professor and tropical-fruit crop specialist at UF’s Tropical Research & Education Center in Homestead, has studied how hurricanes affect Florida agriculture. His research covers damage to fruit crops and to grove infrastructure such as irrigation systems due to high winds and flooding. 305-246-7001, ext. 290; jhcr@ufl.edu.

Hurricanes and pets/farm animals: John Haven directs the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s All Animals, All Hazards Disaster Response Team and has participated in animal care operations related to hurricanes, fires and disease outbreaks. After leading the college’s responses to Hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne, he organized this formal veterinary emergency response team consisting of faculty, staff and students. He is a member of the State Agriculture Response Team, coordinator for the State Veterinary Reserve Corps disaster response team, and an Incident Command System Instructor. 352-294-4254, ext. 3154; havenj@ufl.edu.



Five years after oil spill, survey shows Gulf Coast residents are still impacted

Topic(s): Aquaculture, CALS, Disaster Preparedness, Environment, Families and Consumers, Pollution
Families, fishermen and birds enjoying sunset at the beach in Naples, Florida.  Shore, coast, sundown, fishing, leisure and recreation.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Five years after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 men and sent at least 210 million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, people along the coast are gathering for a three-city regional forum Thursday. Participants will discuss the spill’s effects on their communities, its lasting impacts and how to prepare for another major disaster.

The regional forum will include the release of results from a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences survey of Gulf Coast residents from Baldwin County, Ala., to Cedar Key, Fla. The survey looked at coastal residents’ opinions of the status of their recovery five years after the DWH disaster.

Findings indicated that respondents’ levels of satisfaction were lower five years after the spill than before it in several topic areas. This included levels of satisfaction with their community’s economy, community leadership and programs, local media, Gulf coast seafood industry, faith-based organizations and emergency response efforts. (more …)

Planning trumps indecision – prepare now for hurricane season, expert says

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Uncategorized

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Waiting too long to make a decision in the face of disaster is in itself a decision – and rarely a good one, a University of Florida expert in community development says.

Michael Spranger, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences professor and Extension specialist, says deadly indecision can be trumped by one thing: Planning.

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UF/IFAS study: Computer model can help coastal managers with nourishment decisions

Topic(s): Agriculture, Disaster Preparedness, Environment, Research

beach erosion

Cutline: UF/IFAS researchers say a new computer model can help coastal managers make better beach nourishment decisions and possibly save millions of dollars. Above, the beach is shown with a fence at St. Augustine Beach, Fla.

UF/IFAS file photo

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A computer model developed, in part, by University of Florida researchers can help coastal managers better understand the long-term effects of major storms, sea-level rise and beach restoration activities and possibly save millions of dollars.

Researchers used erosion data following tropical storms and hurricanes that hit Santa Rosa Island, off Florida’s Panhandle, and sea-level rise projections to predict beach habitat changes over the next 90 years. But they say their model can be used to inform nourishment decisions at any beach.

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UF researcher: Southeast must prepare for wild weather from climate change

Topic(s): Agriculture, Disaster Preparedness, Economics, Environment, Research, Weather


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. —  People who live in the southeastern United States should begin to prepare for more drastically changing weather conditions – everything from heat waves to poorer air quality – caused by climate change, according to a new book, edited by a University of Florida researcher.

The book, which UF’s Keith Ingram helped write, is titled “Climate Change of the Southeast United States: Variability, Change, Impacts and Vulnerability.” Ingram was the book’s lead editor.

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Tips geared for older adults available in updated UF/IFAS disaster-planning guide

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Extension, Families and Consumers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’re an older person living on your own or if an older adult relies on you for help, the next few weeks are a perfect time to spend creating a disaster plan, a University of Florida researcher says.

Hurricane season begins June 1 and preparations can take a little longer and require a bit more attention to detail for older adults and their caregivers, said UF’s Linda Bobroff, a family, youth and community sciences professor who helped update a guide that outlines exactly how to become prepared. Bobroff, who specializes in food and nutrition, is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The guide, called Disaster Planning Tips for Older Adults, is available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy620.

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UF research improves production of sea oats essential to dune restoration

Topic(s): Agriculture, Biocontrols, Conservation, Disaster Preparedness, New Technology, Weather


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It might be easy for the casual beachgoer to write off sea oats as mere weeds. However, the lanky grass holds the soil of beach dunes, making it a keystone of the natural barrier between land and water-and University of Florida researchers are using cutting-edge techniques to keep that barrier in place.”The 2004 hurricane season showed us exactly how important it is to have effective ways of rebuilding our coastal dunes,” said Mike Kane, a UF environmental horticulture professor. “Plants are an essential part of that rebuilding.”

The researchers from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are not only developing new ways to grow the plants under laboratory and greenhouse conditions, but are building a cryogenically stored library of genetically varied sea oats samples.

Four major hurricanes and a tropical storm damaged more than 800 miles of Florida shoreline in 2004, leaving 360 miles of beach critically eroded. Nearly $200 million in state and federal funding was allocated to rebuild.

Planting sea oats along reconstructed beaches isn’t easy or cheap. The 22,000 sea oats plants required to populate one mile of rebuilt beach cost more than $40,000.

One of the biggest hurdles is producing enough plants that will thrive in the area being rebuilt. Many of the natural sea oats populations that serve as seed sources were damaged or destroyed during the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons, leaving researchers looking for ways to produce sea oats other than by seed. (more …)

UF Expert: Tropical Storm Fay Leaves Mold Worries Behind

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness, Pollution, Weather
  • By:
    Stu Hutson – (352) 273-3569
  • Source:
    James Kimbrough – jamesk@ufl.edu, (352) 392-2158

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You can’t tell a storm’s spit by its punch, the old maxim goes. Florida is used to stronger weather systems than August’s tropical storm Fay, but its seven-day deluge made it the fourth wettest storm to ever hit the state.

One month later, most of the flooding has receded, but an expert from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences warns that new problems could be rising in the form of toxic molds and mildews. (more …)

UF Expert Says With Hurricane Season Approaching, Citizen Response Teams Need Volunteers

Topic(s): Disaster Preparedness

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Southern states most often wracked by hurricanes are ahead of the nation when it comes to preparing citizens to help in a disaster, but there are still plenty of volunteer gaps that need to be filled, a University of Florida researcher says.

And with hurricane season beginning Sunday, there’s no better time for residents to volunteer for disaster teams in their area, said Mark Brennan, a rural sociologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences who has written extensively on volunteerism. (more …)

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