Walter Gillis Peacock, director of the Texas A&M Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, is one of 15 experts serving on a committee established by the U.S. Congress to review government efforts to reduce life and property loss from windstorms, the nation’s costliest natural hazard.
“Windstorm risk in the U.S. is growing considerably for two primary reasons,” Peacock said. “First, we are continuing to develop in at-risk areas along the coast. The second reason is climate change and its consequences, including coastal storms, increased rainfall and inland flooding.”
Peacock serves as a social sciences expert on the Advisory Committee of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program with fellow members from engineering, economics, and emergency management fields. The group has been working since March 2017 to review the National Windstorm Reduction Act, which Congress reauthorized in 2015.
“The act directs research to address and mitigate the growing risk from windstorms and to find potential solutions to lessen that risk,” said Peacock, a professor in Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and holder of the Sandy and Bryan Mitchell Master Builder Endowed Chair at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.
The group’s report, Peocock said, will recommended funding areas for focus and scientific research such as planning and policies that minimize future windstorm impact, and updating building codes, land use laws and development guidelines.
According to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), windstorms most often in the forms of hurricanes and tornadoes, are the largest loss-producing natural hazard in the United States. Since 1980, windstorms have caused more than $70 billion in economic losses and more than 4,500 deaths. In terms of property losses covered by insurance, windstorms account for 14 of the 15 costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
Peacock is internationally known for leadership in disaster recovery, community resiliency and social vulnerability research. A Texas A&M faculty member since 2002, he has co-authored three books and published in more than 150 journal articles, book chapters and professional papers.
He has addressed Congress on housing recovery issues, advised local, state and federal officials on disaster management, and consulted for the Governmental Accountability Office.