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NIST to Provide Public Update on Hurricane Maria and Champlain Towers South Investigations During Advisory Committee Meeting March 6-7, 2024

Two men stand a table in a warehouse space, looking at a broken piece of concrete that one is holding.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff member and National Construction Safety Team member examine a core extracted from Champlain Towers South evidence specimens following compressive testing of the core (July 2023).

Credit: NIST

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will provide updates on its investigations into the impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and the 2021 partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South building as part of a National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Advisory Committee meeting on March 6 and 7, 2024.

On Sept. 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated much of Puerto Rico, damaging buildings that its communities relied on for medical care, safety, communications and more. To better understand how the buildings and infrastructure failed, and how we can prevent such failures in the future, in 2018 NIST launched a multiyear effort to study how critical buildings performed during the storm, as well as how emergency communications systems worked. NIST is conducting its research under authorities granted by the National Construction Safety Team Act and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program. Additional information and progress reports can be found on the NIST website.    

Just six days after the June 24, 2021, partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida, NIST announced the launch of an investigation under the authorities of NCST Act. Since then, a team of engineering, geotechnical, social science, material science and other experts have been gathering and analyzing evidence to understand what caused the collapse. Updates on the investigation and preliminary findings can be found on the NIST website.

The goal of both efforts is to make recommendations to improve building codes, standards and practices to make buildings and communities across the U.S. safer and more resilient.

The meeting will be livestreamed each day from 9 a.m. EST to 5 p.m. EST. The full agenda can be found on the NIST website.

Under the National Construction Safety Team Act, signed into law in October 2002, NIST is authorized to investigate major building failures in the United States. The NCST Advisory Committee advises NIST on carrying out these investigations. Each year, the committee submits a report to Congress on its findings and recommendations that includes an evaluation of NCST activities and an assessment of the implementation of recommendations of NCST and the committee. Read the committee’s latest annual report to Congress.

NIST encourages members of the public to submit any information, including video, photos or other documentation, that might help the investigation via the NIST Disaster Data Portal.

NIST has a long history of studying disasters so that we can learn from them and improve our buildings or procedures. For example, after the World Trade Center disaster, NIST’s recommendations led to changes in how we construct buildings and respond to emergencies. Additionally, thanks to NIST’s work studying the effects of tornadoes, building codes and communications practices have been changed to keep people safer.

Released March 4, 2024