DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Embry Riddle researchers are hoping to improve hurricane evacuations and fuel supply for future storm seasons.

  • Students study evacuation necessities
  • Focuses on ways to improve after Hurricane Irma
  • Study runs February 2019

The research comes after millions hit the roads to evacuate from Hurricane Irma, where roadways were jammed and gas stations were out of gas. Now the university's study is expected to help change that.

"This is the rate at which gas stations run out of fuel," said Sabique Islam.

Islam remembers how difficult it was for him to evacuate during Hurricane Irma. Gas was a big problem.

"It is actually pretty devastating because I was one of those people traveling to Atlanta at that time, and I saw a lot of people on I-95 and I-75 just stuck,' Islam said. 

It looked like a parking lot as millions of Floridians headed away from the storm.

He was prepared with extra gas but felt sorry for others.

''I planned ahead, and I had two big gallons of fuel. But there was no way that I could help them; I had my family with me, and I was trying to get out of harm’s way,'' Islam said.

Now, the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted Islam and other graduate students and ERAU professors the opportunity to help.

The team is working on a study to improve gas availability and traffic during storm evacuations.

"We can run 3,000 scenarios simultaneously," said Dr. Sirish Namilae, Asst. Professor of Aerospace Engineering. 

With the university's super computer helping them calculate massive data, the team is using predictions and codes to figure out fuel issues, traffic jams and gas locations.

"We can predict at what rate more and more gas stations are going to run out of fuel. Knowing that rate, we can predict what time we have to start refueling gas stations," Islam said.

For example, he said at least 39 percent of gas stations in Orlando were out of fuel the day Irma hit.

"The very interesting thing is the pattern it follows is just like a regular mix of mathematics," Namilae said.

It's an equation they hope to solve what he's doing now will make the process smoother for evacuees in the future.

"It’s putting people's lives in danger so at the end of the day the main goal is to help people," Islam said.

The study runs Feb. 2019, and the professor hopes they'll be able to extend that to keep.

They say if this hurricane season is very active, then they'll have real time data to track.​