15:40 - 16:40
29 October 2020

Hurricane Lessons Learned: Response, Recovery, and Policy

Natural & Man-Made Disasters

This session will earn 1.0 PDH

Abstract: Hurricanes and extreme rainfall events can result in massive damage to public and private infrastructure. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey resulted in an estimated $125 billion in damages to roads, bridges, and sewers throughout Texas. This led to the development of a cradle to grave response approach to ensure infrastructure safety, determination how to repair damaged structures, and pursue federal reimbursement for eligible repairs. Response begins with a rapid inspection of infrastructure with locations prioritized based on stream data and flood inundation maps. Inspection teams transmitted site reconnaissance data using an electronic form available via any mobile device connected to the internet. The Harris County Engineering Department was responsible for many facets of recovery, including actions related to the damage assessments, permitting of the repair and reconstruction of approximately 32,000 flooded homes and businesses, management of debris operations, and public infrastructure response. Hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall in 2017 in Puerto Rico, causing significant damage to the island’s infrastructure. To rebuild and reduce the impact of future natural events, FEMA gathered field data after both hurricanes and recommended the adoption of the latest hazard-resistant building codes and standards. Thus, the Puerto Rico Building Code (PRBC) was revised and adopted in 2018 to include state of the art designs pertaining to wind speeds including 316 wind microzone maps specific to every Puerto Rico municipality. The speakers will discuss lessons learned from past natural disasters with a focus on disaster response, damage recovery, and policy changes to minimize future disaster impacts.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe an effective method of rapid response, inspection, and emergency repair of critical infrastructure in compliance with federal guidelines.
  • Describe the engineering responsibilities faced by local governments in permitting and design of recovery efforts.
  • Describe how disaster data can assist in the development of code and policy updates to minimize future disaster impacts.