On Oct. 13, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that it has deployed the first of three teams of technical experts under a multiorganizational partnership to perform assessments of physical structures damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the nation's Gulf Coast. The partnership—coordinated by NIST and made up of 26 engineers from 16 separate private-sector, academic and federal organizations—will document data from the field on damage to major buildings, infrastructure facilities and residential structures due to wind, wind-borne debris, storm surge, surge-borne debris and flooding.
The damage assessment teams also will collect damage and environmental data from other sources, correlate damage data with environmental data, and identify building codes and practices used in the affected areas. Their efforts will result in a single report from the entire partnership documenting all findings, recommendations for any additional assessments needed of structural performance during the hurricanes, and any immediate implications for building practices, standards and codes.
The 16 organizations participating in the three damage assessment teams are NIST, the Applied Technology Council, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration, the International Code Council, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations, the National Research Council of Canada, Texas Tech University, the University at Buffalo, the University of Puerto Rico, Amtech Roofing Consultants Inc., Applied Residential Engineering Services, ImageCat Inc., Scawthorn Porter Associates Inc., Shiner Moseley and Associates Inc., and Smith & Huston Inc.
The first damage assessment team began a four-day tour of duty on Oct. 10 in the East Texas/West Louisiana coastal areas affected by Hurricane Rita. The second and third damage assessment teams were deployed on Oct. 17 to the regions affected by Hurricane Katrina. NIST had already sent experts in September on preliminary reconnaissance and data collection missions into the hurricane-affected areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. The latter group collaborated with an assessment team headed by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additionally, two of the NIST engineers joined with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at its invitation, to collect preliminary data on damage to the levees and other flood control systems around New Orleans.