Knowing How to Help — And How Not to Help — After a Disaster Makes a DifferenceMarch 18, 20201 min read
The images coming out of Nashville as it begins to recover from a deadly tornado that tore through the city on March 3 are heartbreaking. As people in other parts of the country are moved to do something, it is important that they know which ways of helping are effective — and which are not.
José Holguín-Veras, the director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment at Rensselaer, can address this based on the research he's done in the area of humanitarian logistics. He has found that some well-intentioned attempts at assistance can even be counterproductive.
Holguín-Veras' work was recently cited in an article written for The Conversation on this very topic. Julia Brooks, a Furman Public Policy Scholar at New York University, wrote:
"One study led by José Holguín-Veras, a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute expert on humanitarian logistics, found that 50% to 70% of the goods that arrive during these emergencies should never have been sent and interfere with recovery efforts. After the 2011 Joplin, Missouri, tornado and the Tōhoku, Japan, earthquake, for example, excessive donations of clothing and blankets tied up relief personnel."
If you'd like to speak with Holguín-Veras about humanitarian logistics following this natural disaster, please click on his ExpertFile profile.
José Holguín-Veras Director, Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment (CITE) & William H. Hart Chair Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Leading authority in freight transportation and humanitarian logistics