Industry Leaders Forum to Look at Lessons Learned From Katrina

September 29, 2017
The Industry Leaders Forum at the ASCE 2017 Convention will address lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.
The Industry Leaders Forum at the ASCE 2017 Convention will address lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

The list of teachers is evergrowing – Ike, Sandy, Irene, Harvey, Irma, Maria.

And with the ASCE 2017 Convention in New Orleans next month, the setting is ideal to consider lessons learned from one teacher in particular: Katrina.

The Industry Leaders Forum, Oct. 10 during the convention, will explore the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and Hurricane Harvey on Houston, under a theme of “From Disasters to Solutions.”

ASCE Industry Leaders Council chair Terry Neimeyer, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE, CEO and chairman of KCI Technologies, will serve as moderator. The roundtable of experts includes ASCE President and New Orleans resident Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE; Robert Turner, P.E., M.ASCE, regional director at Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East; Maj. Gen. Donald E. (Ed) Jackson Jr., P.E., M.ASCE, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations; Carol Ellinger Haddock, P.E., M.ASCE, the acting director of public works for the city of Houston; and Michael Walsh, executive vice president of Dewberry and retired major general with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“What we wanted to do was talk about what lessons had been learned from Katrina, but also tie it into the ASCE Grand Challenge,” Neimeyer said. The ASCE Grand Challenge aims to reduce infrastructure life-cycle costs by 50 percent by 2025 and foster the optimization of infrastructure for society by focusing in four areas: performance-based standards, life-cycle cost analysis, innovation, and resilience.

convention stripIt’s been 12 years since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and nearby coastal communities to devastating effect. In the wake of the disaster, the profession conducted several assessments aimed at capturing lessons learned and making recommendations that would make rebuilding safer, both for New Orleans and for other vulnerable communities.

ASCE formed the Hurricane Katrina External Review Panel, which published the report The New Orleans Hurricane Protection System: What Went Wrong and Why. The ERP’s work led to the publication of ASCE’s Guiding Principles for the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure and the report Flood Risk Management: The Need for Sound Policies and Practices.

Perhaps the most important lesson learned, Neimeyer said – and it’s only been reaffirmed through this fall’s storm season – is that these once-in-a-lifetime storms aren’t once-in-a-lifetime anymore.

“We design stormwater management ponds to contain a 100-year storm, but we always have emergency spillways out of these ponds for what happens if the storm is even bigger,” said Neimeyer, discussing his work with KCI.

GC Logo WEB HORIZ“We can take that same approach with levees – looking at them differently, saying, ‘Let’s do risk analysis into what would happen if this storm were to occur. What can we do to mitigate that?’ You can’t just think about a 100-year flood.

“Better design criteria saves lives.

“So we thought the Industry Leaders Forum would be a great way to look at lessons learned so that the next time a Katrina comes to another location, engineers will have been able to anticipate something above and beyond that takes into account resiliency. New Orleans is a perfect place for it.”

Learn more about the Industry Leaders Forum and the ASCE 2017 Convention.

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