Collection of Perishable Data on Woodframe Residential Structures in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
Team Members: John W. van de Lindt, Rakesh Gupta, Andrew Graettinger, Thomas Skaggs, Steven Pryor, and Kenneth J. Fridley
One of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history is hurricane Katrina which made landfall on August 29, 2005 at 7:10 a.m. in Plaquemines Parish, LA. Tragically, Katrina caused widespread damage and loss of life in several states but has also provided an opportunity to collect data which may be useful for design engineers and building code officials in order to design safe and strong buildings in the future. The objective of this study is to gather and process perishable data on residential woodframe structures in non-flooded regions of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi that can be used by the research and design code development community to improve the performance of woodframe structures to strong wind (lateral) loading.
This Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) project supports the acquisition of perishable data on damage to and performance of woodframe structures following hurricane Katrina by a multi-institutional post-disaster team (Colorado State University, University of Alabama, Oregon State University, Michigan Technological University, Simpson Strong Tie Co., and in cooperation with APA) made up of members from both academia and industry. Four members of the team are committee chairs and members of the American Society of Civil Engineers / Structural Engineering Institute Committee on Wood, thus technology, i.e. data, transfer will be almost instantaneous. Such data is perishable in that once repairs begin and clearing of woodframe debris is underway it is no longer available to the engineering community in order that we may learn how to improve the performance of woodframe structures during very high winds. The vast majority of the residential building stock in the U.S. is light-frame, or woodframe, construction including the affected areas in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
The funds provided by this SGER grant are being used for (1) travel to and around the affected area between September 22 and 26 for the post-disaster team of structural wood and wind experts, and specifically to (2) record damage to residential woodframe structures systematically working from the edge of the hurricane path and inland toward the coast. No personnel time was requested, and funds are only being used for minimal travel-related expenses for the team members. Thus the effort is a collaboration of academics, code developers, professional engineers, and industry.
The intellectual merit of this SGER project is mainly the use of real-time GIS applications, and correlation of severe and moderate wind damage with NOAA wind speed data, the later of which will help with the development of performance-based wind engineering concepts, a recently introduced paradigm.
The broader impacts of this project includes the internet-based dissemination of data that can be used to improve the performance of woodframe structures through design code development, thus decreasing risk to families living in woodframe houses, as well as reducing damage.
A preliminary report will be sent to NSF, ASCE, and will me made available to the worldwide web community on the project web page the first week in October, just one week after the teams visit. The full GIS-based report will be released within 90 days of the teams visit to the affected areas.