A Special Report Series by MCEER
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall with sustained winds estimated at 125
mph, unprecedented storm surges approaching 30 feet and winds extending 125 miles from its
center. It resulted in over 1,300 lives lost, and caused major flooding and damage that spanned
more than 200 miles along the Gulf Coast of the United States.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, a multidisciplinary team of investigators from
MCEER, headquartered at the University at Buffalo, conducted post-disaster field
reconnaissance to examine the impact of Hurricane Katrina on physical engineered systems and
the response and recovery efforts that followed. Their objectives were to examine wind, storm
surge and debris damage from a multi-hazard perspective. Implications of lessons learned from
this reconnaissance effort are being examined to mitigate damage and improve response and
recovery efforts not only from future hurricanes, but also from other extreme events such as
earthquakes or terrorist attacks. By collecting this multi-hazard information, MCEER is seeking
to develop engineering design strategies and organizational strategies that will make
communities more resilient against any extreme event.
The MCEER special report series "Engineering and Organizational Issues Before, During and
After Hurricane Katrina" was initiated to present the findings from the field reconnaissance
mission. The topics addressed include advanced damage detection using remote sensing, damage
to engineered structures, organizational decision making primarily in hospitals, and
environmental and public health issues. Preliminary damage reports from the MCEER team
along with a wealth of other information collected after the hurricane are available on
MCEER's Katrina Reconnaissance pages.