Hurricane Harvey: Clemson University experts and story tips


Clemson University Athletics is encouraging people to contribute to the relief fund set up by the American Red Cross. Announcements will be made during the Clemson vs. Kent State football game Saturday.

The Clemson Alumni Association – in conjunction with the Houston Clemson Club – is providing several options for those considering assistance they can lend to their Texas-based fellow Tigers:

  • Mayor’s Fund, administered through the Greater Houston Community Foundation and founded by Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner. Donations can be made at the Foundation’s website or by texting HARVEY2017 to 91999.
  • Donations can be made to the American Red Cross.


“With floods, most people think about mosquito problems, and they can be a problem. But you can also have other problems, such as with flies breeding on dead animals or decaying vegetation,” said Eric Benson, professor and entomologist for Clemson’s department of plant and environmental sciences. “You can have ants, especially fire ants in weird places, and things like soil treatments around homes for termites that may be compromised.”

Benson said people may think the insects drowned, but that’s usually not the case.

“Insects are very good at surviving. The Houston area floods are very bad and extensive, but some areas didn’t get submerged. These higher ground areas can be the source of insects to reinvade flooded areas once the water recedes,” Benson said.

  • Contact Eric Benson, department of entomology (, 864-656-7860): Extension and research responsibilities for urban pest management, specializing in termites, bed bugs, cockroaches and ants. Teaching responsibilities include urban entomology, insect biology and insect diversity.


“Storms like this remind us that large expanses of natural forest and wetlands absorb and store water and move it away from higher areas,” said Rob Baldwin, Clemson University conservation biologist. “Over time we have put so much impervious surface on the landscape that floods become more catastrophic quicker.”

Baldwin said impervious surfaces can lead to more catastrophic flooding.

  • Contact: Rob Baldwin, professor conservation biology/GIS (, 864-642-7137): Baldwin is currently interested in assessing the conservation value of private conservation lands, and how to build socially and biologically sustainable networks of natural areas in urbanizing landscapes.


Drivers across the nation are starting to feel the financial impact of Hurricane Harvey at the gas pump.

At least 15 refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast shutd own and that includes the Motiva plant, the nation’s largest refinery. Gas prices are expected to rise by as much as 25 cents per gallon nationwide as a result of Harvey.

  • Contact professor Matthew Lewis, John E. Walker Department of Economics (, 864-656-4192): Specializes in industrial organization with a particular focus on energy markets and healthcare markets. His extensive research on gasoline markets has investigated issues related to gas station competition and pricing, price dynamics, consumer search, and consumers’ response to price fluctuations.


People around the world are talking about the devastation left in the wake of Harvey.

“During many disasters and crisis events, we often observe how people use social media to share their emotions and connect with others experiencing tragedy,” said Joe Mazer, professor and director of Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center. “We have seen that with Hurricane Harvey, but more notably, we have observed an incredible use of social media for informational purposes.”

Mazer said people are using social media to help people stranded by the storm reach safety. One photo that quickly went viral came from the La Vita Bella Nursing Home in Dickinson, Texas.  The picture led to the rescue of elderly residents.

“In this case, social media saved lives,” Mazer said.

The Social Media Listening Center in the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences is used for research. Salesforce Radian6 provides the platform to listen, discover, measure and engage by capturing more than 150 million sources of social media conversations from Facebook to Twitter.

“Hurricane Harvey and the flooding crisis that followed yielded more than two million social media mentions with mostly negative sentiment because of the sheer devastation and characterization as ‘the worst flood in Texas history,’” Mazer said.

  • Contact professor Joseph Mazer, Department of Communication, Associate Chair (, 864-656-1567): Director of the Social Media Listening Center in the College of Behavioral, Social, and Health Sciences, Mazer’s research interests include communication in teaching and learning contexts, social media and new technologies, communication in interpersonal relationships, and measurement issues and trends in communication research.


Other Clemson University professors and researchers are closely monitoring the impact Hurricane Harvey is having on the state of Texas and the nation. They include:

  • Professor James Martin, Department of Civil Engineering Chair (, 864-656-3002): Research includes geotechnical earthquake and foundation engineering, site response, liquefaction, probabilistic seismic hazard assessment, numerical modeling, soil and improvement, and thermos-active foundation systems. Other faculty in Martin’s department can also speak to infrastructure issues following Hurricane Harvey.
  • Charlotte Krugler, emergency preparedness veterinarian, Clemson Livestock Poultry Health (, 803-726-7801): Krugler’s office is in Columbia. She assists with training related to foreign animal diseases and serves as liaison to state emergency management to assist with resource coordination for animal/agricultural issues in disasters.

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