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Disaster & failure studies

Overview

Buildings, bridges, and other structures are not supposed to fall down. But sometimes they do, and for different reasons: fires, earthquakes, high winds, errors in design and construction, flaws in materials, and even terrorist attacks.

When disaster and failure events cause, or pose the potential for, substantial loss of life, the NIST Disaster and Failure Studies Program provides a platform for research into building and infrastructure performance and emergency response and evacuation procedures.

By understanding the technical causes leading to structural or response failures and then making that information public, NIST engineers and researchers strive to prevent similar failures in the future. Studies conducted by NIST have led to significant changes in practices, standards, and codes to enhance the health and safety of the American public.

News

Close-up of a map showing a city called Lumberton

The Trials and Triumphs of a Small City’s Hurricane Recovery Could Help Other Communities Bounce Back

In September 2018, a North Carolina city’s long road to recovery from Hurricane Matthew two years earlier became even longer. Lumberton, a small but diverse city of 21,000 people, 96 kilometers (60 miles) inland from the coast, unfortunately found itself in Hurricane Florence’s sights. The Lumber River, which bisects the city, swelled greatly. The flooding damaged hundreds of buildings, causing
Yalda Saadat poses sitting at a table at home, next to an open laptop and a vase of roses.

Spotlight: Yalda Sadaat Delves Into the Backbone of Urban Life, Infrastructure

Camila Espina Young poses outdoors for a head shot

Once Her Struggle, Now Her Strength: Camila Young Evaluates Shelters in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

A flatbed truck with equipment on the back sits in a puddled parking lot near the remains of a demolished building foundation, with two figures in safety gear nearby and palm trees in the background.

Sept. 29, 2022, Update: Champlain Towers South Investigation Completes Site Testing, Announces Next Advisory Committee Meeting

The Research

Projects & Programs

Additional Resources Links

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