More than 50,000 homes and businesses in the Carolinas were still without power in recent days, according to local power companies, a lingering effect of Hurricane Florence. And while the recovery rate for any disaster hinges on scads of complex factors, Allison Reilly is working to get numbers like this down for future events.

She’s turning the University of Maryland campus into a real-life laboratory to examine how operators navigate intertwined electrical, water, and telecommunications systems after they’ve been knocked out.

Reilly, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and affiliate of the Center for Disaster Resilience, and her colleagues will use simulation and gaming techniques, computer modeling, and interviews and observation to understand operator behavior. The three-year project will begin with UMD’ Facilities Management and the Division of Information Technology before expanding to include the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island in South Carolina and other partners.

Reilly is joined on the project by Melissa Kenney and Mike Gerst from UMD’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-Maryland. The work is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.