The Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware aims to help communities become as prepared as possible for unplanned, sometimes unthinkable events. The Center's work and guidelines have been adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, medical reserve groups, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Center’s associate director, sociologist Tricia Wachtendorf, looked at specific events in lower Manhattan, including the water evacuations of hundreds of people fleeing the World Trade Center. She noted that both the Coast Guard and private boats did an extraordinary job amidst the chaos. Contrast that to the much criticized response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. What works and what doesn't, and what can be learned from these complex, unrelated disasters? With support from the National Science Foundation, Wachtendorf intends to find out.