How engineers help protect communities during hurricane season

As this year’s hurricane season in the US is about to peak Robert N Roop from Lockatong Engineering explains how engineers help minimise risk and damage to communities.

A hurricane over the USA seen from space
A hurricane over the USA seen from space
  • Updated: 01 September, 2016
  • Author: Robert N. Roop , Founder & President, Lockatong Engineering

On 8 September 1900 the city island of Galveston, Texas was hit by the deadliest hurricane in US history and an estimated 8,000 people lost their lives. When Hurricane Katrina hit 105 years later that resulted in over $105bn of damage to properties, infrastructure, and livelihood.

Because of the threat that hurricanes pose yearly many organisations and private professionals, such as engineers, are now creating plans to reduce the risk and damage from hurricanes before, during, and after their onslaught.

Before the hurricane season comes engineers develop risk mitigation measures that reduce the frequency, intensity, scale and impact of hazards brought by the hurricane. Preparedness plans are produced which often include early warning systems that monitor and predict the occurrence of hazards as well as contingency plans for effective response and recovery which can be implemented by the community.

Professional engineers are also responsible for spreading advocacy by influencing and encouraging the community and other bodies to become involved in reducing identified risk. Furthermore, engineers have the task to develop and construct infrastructure with high natural disaster resistance.

In the US one of the government agencies that responds during natural disasters such as a hurricane is the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). This has a workforce of over 37,000 civilians and active duty personnel that deliver engineering services in over 90 countries.

USACE provides affected people with immediate emergency support, critical commodities and temporary emergency power, and initiates recovery efforts by assessing and restoring damaged infrastructure. During and after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 the USACE team efficiently removed saltwater from subways and tunnels and helped clear up tonnes of debris from city areas.

Judging the wide scope of the engineers’ role – from planning to implementation to rebuilding – it’s clear they play a vital part in reducing the damage caused by hurricanes and ensuring the life and safety of the public.

Lockatong’s useful infographic, also available at the Lockatong website, explains more:

Hurricane infographic

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