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Natural disasters -- Utah -- Risk assessment


Transportation systems play a critical role in maintaining supply chains for effective post-disaster recovery. Modeling the potential economic impact of transportation-related disruptions, therefore, is an important step to promoting pre-event community wide recovery and resilience planning. But existing supply chain and economic impact models are cost prohibitive and overly sophisticated for use by public sector entities with limited resources. There is also limited understanding of how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) adjust to post-disaster transportation disruption and how this experience influences their future preparedness for similar events. This project had two objectives: (1) to analyze the economic impact due to transportation disruptions in earthquake country using a collaborative university-community partnership framework; and (2) to examine business-level preparedness to such managing such disruptions. In the first phase, the project used the scenario of an M7.0 earthquake in Utah’s Wasatch Front and brought together a common set of public sector actors (namely, emergency management departments, metropolitan planning organizations, port authorities, and university research centers) and tools they already use (namely, HAZUS, travel demand modeling and REMI+) to help assess the potential impact of catastrophic earthquakes on the regional economy.

The study estimates a potential economic loss of $6 billion due to interruption of intermediate goods supply in the Wasatch Front. The second phase surveyed 130 Salt Lake City businesses within top 10 worst-affected industrial sectors identified in Phase 1 to understand how they are currently navigating supply disruptions due to COVID-19 and their future earthquake preparedness. The survey found that businesses reported significant impact to supply chain management and production cost due to the disasters. Businesses took a range of actions to manage these disruptions including adjusting capital expenditures and diversifying suppliers within and outside the city. While the disaster experience had raised awareness and confidence in preparation for the future, businesses reported taking few concrete actions in terms of mitigation and preparedness. The study highlights the need for high hazard risk communities to identify at-risk industrial sectors and do targeted disaster management outreach and awareness raising in these sectors.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-1405, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University, and can be found online at:



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