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Proceedings from the MCEER Workshop on Lessons from the World Trade Center Terrorist Attack:
Management of Complex Civil Emergencies and Terrorism-Resistant Civil Engineering Design

held at the City University of New York, New York City     |   June 24-25, 2002

 
   

Introduction

The tragic terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 in New York City resulted in mass casualties, numerous injuries, the collapse of the 110-story World Trade Center twin towers and adjacent buildings, and extensive disruption of business, professional, economic, and social activities within the city and the surrounding area. When the final accounting takes place, this attack will almost certainly constitute one of the most deadly and costly disasters in U.S. history.

The types of damage that occurred and the demands placed on organizational and government emergency response systems, in many ways parallel those that can be expected in the event of a major earthquake in any U. S. urban center. Like an earthquake, the terrorist attack occurred with virtually no warning, creating the immediate demand for lifesaving and emergency health care provisions. Fires broke out and multiple structural collapses occurred. Facilities that perform critical emergency functions were destroyed, heavily damaged, or evacuated for life-safety reasons.

Attempting to respond to the needs of New York State and the Nation, the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), in collaboration with the National Research Council (NRC) and the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS), organized this workshop, Lessons from the World Trade Center Terrorist Attack: Management of Complex Civil Emergencies & Terrorism-Resistant Civil Engineering Design.

Objectives

The objectives of the workshop were to review whether knowledge developed during the past decades to enhance seismic resilience can be used to help achieve terrorism resistant communities, and at the same time, investigate whether lessons can be learned from blast-resistant engineering to enhance earthquake engineering practice. Furthermore, the workshop examined the management of complex civil emergencies and terrorism-resistant civil engineering design. Organizers sought participation of experts from throughout the country, to provide the multidisciplinary perspectives required to address this very complex problem.

The workshop aimed to answer three questions using the expert opinion of the participants:

The answers will make it possible to identify:

Format

Each day consisted of plenary sessions followed by discussions to allow workshop participants to exchange views on the topic at hand. Plenary sessions featured invited speakers and consisted of general presentations to provide an overview of events related to the WTC attack. Presentations also focused on how knowledge from previous studies and various fields can merge to address new challenges.

This Proceedings summarizes the findings from the workshop and includes, in digital format (attached CD-ROM), the presentations made by most of the speakers. This special format for the Proceedings was designed to share, to the fullest extent possible, the visuals and video-clips that constituted an essential part of some presentations and greatly enriched communication of the concepts presented.

Complementing these electronic presentations that replace the "traditional papers," are abstracts from most presentations and short biographical sketches of most authors. These are grouped under the general session topics under which they were presented, namely:

Finally, a few authors volunteered additional longer technical documents, which have been electronically appended to the Proceedings, on the CD-ROM.   

   

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