A Markov chain location-allocation meta-model for hurricane relief

Desiree Tejada Calvo, Florida International University


An emergency is a deviation from a planned course of events that endangers people, properties, or the environment. It can be described as an unexpected event that causes economic damage, destruction, and human suffering. When a disaster happens, Emergency Managers are expected to have a response plan to most likely disaster scenarios. Unlike earthquakes and terrorist attacks, a hurricane response plan can be activated ahead of time, since a hurricane is predicted at least five days before it makes landfall. This research looked into the logistics aspects of the problem, in an attempt to develop a hurricane relief distribution network model. We addressed the problem of how to efficiently and effectively deliver basic relief goods to victims of a hurricane disaster. Specifically, where to preposition State Staging Areas (SSA), which Points of Distributions (PODs) to activate, and the allocation of commodities to each POD. Previous research has addressed several of these issues, but not with the incorporation of the random behavior of the hurricane's intensity and path. This research presents a stochastic meta-model that deals with the location of SSAs and the allocation of commodities. The novelty of the model is that it treats the strength and path of the hurricane as stochastic processes, and models them as Discrete Markov Chains. The demand is also treated as stochastic parameter because it depends on the stochastic behavior of the hurricane. However, for the meta-model, the demand is an input that is determined using Hazards United States (HAZUS), a software developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that estimates losses due to hurricanes and floods. A solution heuristic has been developed based on simulated annealing. Since the meta-model is a multi-objective problem, the heuristic is a multi-objective simulated annealing (MOSA), in which the initial solution and the cooling rate were determined via a Design of Experiments. The experiment showed that the initial temperature (T0) is irrelevant, but temperature reduction (δ) must be very gradual. Assessment of the meta-model indicates that the Markov Chains performed as well or better than forecasts made by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Tests of the MOSA showed that it provides solutions in an efficient manner. Thus, an illustrative example shows that the meta-model is practical.

Subject Area

Industrial engineering

Recommended Citation

Tejada Calvo, Desiree, "A Markov chain location-allocation meta-model for hurricane relief" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3420037.