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How Engineering Plays a Big Role in Hurricane Recovery

  • 17 October, 2018

The last few years have brought many hurricanes to the United States, with some of the bigger and most devastating hurricanes being Harvey, Michael, and Florence. For hurricane-prone areas of the United States, engineers have various duties for before and after a hurricane makes landfall. As an engineer, safety is often the main concern when a disaster strikes. When a hurricane hits land, it is extremely important to be fully prepared to ensure minimal loss.

For areas that are susceptible to hurricanes, professional civil engineers must design infrastructure so that the structures can sustain extreme winds, storm surges, flooding, windborne debris, and rain-induced landslides. Buildings that are in hurricane zones must be constructed differently than buildings that are located farther inland. When heavy wind pushes against the roof of a building, negative pressures against it can cause the roof to become detached. Once a roof is detached from the building, the whole structure becomes weak and has the potential to collapse. To avoid building failure, anchoring the roof to the foundation of the building is key to defending the building against destructive, high winds.

After a hurricane strikes, engineers have a large role in the recovery and cleanup. One example of this is the use of drones in rescue missions. After Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane that inflicted $125 billion in damages, engineering drones were used to locate stranded individuals. Drones were used to capture images and the location of people who needed rescued, which is much easier and more efficient than having a rescue team physically search for stranded people via boat. Engineers also work to rebuild fallen and damaged infrastructure during the recovery period.

Engineers play a large role in hurricane recovery. Without engineers helping after a hurricane, recovery would be much slower and not as effective. Since hurricanes are difficult to predict, it is up to professional engineers to be prepared when a disaster strikes.

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