Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water


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Damage to Natural Resources. Affected Population and Damage to Social Sectors Even though the loss of life was limited to 45 reported deaths, , people lost their homes when approximately , houses-almost 55 percent of the housing stock-were damaged. Of these, 14,, or 5 percent, were totally destroyed and 64, were seriously damaged.

Nearly half was accounted for by losses from agriculture, tourism, and industry; 30 percent from housing, health, and education infrastructure; and 20 percent from economic infrastructure. Lucia, June, Washington, D. July, Washington, DC. As expected, the economic activity most affected was agriculture, with the total destruction of banana and broiler production and of more than 50 percent of the coffee and coconut crops. Other productive sectors were also affected seriously. Loss of electricity decreased bauxite production by Damage to Natural Resources The coastal resources of Jamaica suffered extensive damage from hurricane forces.

It is estimated that 50 percent of the beaches were seriously eroded, with the northeast coast being the most affected. An estimated 60 percent of all the trees in the mangrove areas were lost, 50 percent of the oyster culture was unsalvageable, and other non-measurable harm occurred to coral reefs and the water quality of the island Bacon, Affected Population and Damage to Social Sectors The Government of Mexico reported that the hurricane caused deaths and approximately , homeless.

In the state of Nuevo Leon, where the Monterrey area suffered from extensive flooding, people died and 30, housing units were destroyed. Impact on the Economy and Damage to Productive Sectors The tourism industry suffered the greatest damage. Damage to Natural Resources The impact across the Yucatan Peninsula in terms of damage to wildlife, beaches, and coral reefs was much higher than on the coasts of Jamaica.


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Extensive reduction in beaches and coral reefs was reported, and large numbers of birds lost their lives. Vulnerability is a complex concept, which has physical, social, economic and political dimensions. It includes such things as the ability of structures to withstand the forces of a hazardous event, the extent to which a community possesses the means to organize itself to prepare for and deal with emergencies, the extent to which a country's economy depends on a single product or service that is easily affected by the disaster, and the degree of centralization of public decision-making Wilches-Chaux, Population centers and economic activities in the region are highly vulnerable to disruption and damage from the effects of extreme weather.

They are largely concentrated in coastal plains and low-lying areas subject to storm surges and landborne flooding.

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High demands placed on existing lifeline infrastructure, combined with inadequate funds for the expansion and maintenance of these vital systems, have increased their susceptibility to breakdowns. Uncontrolled growth in urban centers degrades the physical environment and its natural protective capabilities. Building sites safe from natural hazards, pollution, and accidents have become inaccessible to the urban poor, who are left to build their shelters on steep hillsides or in flood-prone areas Bender, Agriculture, particularly the cultivation of bananas for export, is often practiced without the necessary conservation measures corresponding to the soil, slope, and rainfall characteristics of the area.

Communities, countries, or regions differ greatly in vulnerability, and hence in the effects they may suffer from hurricanes of similar strength. The very size of a country is a critical determinant of vulnerability: small island nations can be affected over their entire area, and major infrastructure and economic activities may be crippled by a single event.

Scarce resources that were earmarked for development projects have to be diverted to relief and reconstruction, setting back economic growth.

To assess future risks, planners must study historical trends and correlate them with probable future changes. The main cause of increasing vulnerability is the population movement to high-risk areas.


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Most cities in the West Indies are in low coastal zones threatened by storm surge Tomblin, , and they continue to grow. The economic sectors most affected by hurricanes are agriculture and tourism. Together, these represent a major portion of the economy for the countries in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Dorian hammers Bahamas with wind, rain and storm surge

Hurricanes have disastrous effects on banana crops in particular. In St. Vincent 95 percent, and in Dominica 75 percent, of the banana plantations were ruined Earthscan No. Damage to the tourism industry is more difficult to quantify since it includes many other economically identifiable sectors such as transportation and hotel services.

Crop statistics rarely account for long-term losses. The increased salinity in the soil due to the storm surge can have detrimental effects on production in subsequent years. For example, Hurricane Fifi decreased production in Honduras by 20 percent the year it occurred, but in the following year production was down by 50 percent. How much of this reduction was due to the increase in salinity is unclear, but it is known that salt destroys vegetation slowly.

Reduction of Risk at the International Level b. Reduction of Risk at the National Level c. Reduction of Risk at the Local Level. Once the risk posed by hurricanes is understood, specific mitigation measures can be taken to reduce the risk to communities, infrastructure, and economic activities. Human and economic losses can be greatly reduced through well-organized efforts to implement appropriate preventive measures, in public awareness and in issuing timely warnings.

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Thanks to these measures, countries in the region have experienced a drastic reduction in the number of deaths caused by hurricanes. Mitigation measures are most cost-effective when implemented as part of the original plan or construction of vulnerable structures. Typical examples are the application of building standards designed for hurricane-force winds, the avoidance of areas that can be affected by storm surge or flooding, and the planting of windbreaks to protect wind-sensitive crops. Retrofitting buildings or other projects to make them hurricane-resistant is more costly and sometimes impossible.

Once a project is located in a flood-prone area, it may not be feasible to move it to safer ground. The overall record on mitigation of hurricane risk in the Caribbean and Central America is not very encouraging. Cases abound of new investments in the public or productive sectors that were exposed to significant hazard risk because of inappropriate design or location, and even of projects that were rebuilt in the same way on the same site after having been destroyed a first time.

Other cases can be cited of schools and hospitals funded with bilateral aid that were built to design standards suitable for the donor country but incapable of resisting hurricane-strength winds prevalent in the recipient country. The tourism sector in the Caribbean is notorious for its apparent disregard of the risk of hurricanes and associated hazards.

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Hurricane Damage to Residential Structures: Risk and Mitigation

A hotel complex built with insufficient setback from the high-water mark not only risks being damaged by wave action and storm surge, but interferes with the normal processes of beach formation and dune stabilization, thus reducing the effectiveness of a natural system of protection against wave action. After the first serious damage is incurred the owners of the hotel will most likely decide to rebuild on the same site and invest in a seawall, rather than consider moving the structure to a recommended setback. Reduction of Risk at the International Level In the past three decades the technological capacity to monitor hurricanes has improved dramatically, and along with it the casualty rate has declined.

New technology permits the identification of a tropical depression and on-time monitoring as the hurricane develops. The greatest advance has occurred in the United States, but developing countries benefit greatly because of the effective warning mechanism. The computer models also generate vast quantities of information useful for planners in developing nations.

Computer models that estimate tracking, landfall, and potential damage were first implemented in by the U. They vary in capacity and methodology and occasionally result in conflicting predictions, though fewer than formerly. The NHC evaluates incoming data on all tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific tropical cyclone basin and issues an official track and intensity forecast consisting of center positions and maximum one-minute wind speeds for 0, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours. These results can be used in planning evacuation routes.

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A computerized model that assesses the long-term vulnerability of coastal areas to tropical cyclones has also been developed. The file contains storm positions, maximum sustained winds, and central pressures unavailable for early years at six-hour intervals. When the user provides a location and the radius of interest, the model determines hurricane occurrences, dates, storm headings, maximum winds, and forward speeds.

Vulnerability studies begin when the median occurrence date, direction distribution, distribution of maximum winds, probability of at least x number of hurricanes passing over n consecutive years, and gamma distribution of speeds are determined. Planners can use these objective return period calculations to evaluate an otherwise subjective situation.

Reduction of Risk at the National Level One of the most important steps a country can take to mitigate the impact of hurricanes is to incorporate risk assessment and mitigation measure design into development planning. The design of basic mitigation measures begins with the compilation of all historical records of former hurricane activity in the country, to determine the frequency and severity of past occurrences. Reliable meteorological data for each event, ranging from technical studies to newspaper reports, should be gathered. With all the information in place, a study of 1 the distribution of occurrences for months of a year, 2 frequencies of wind strengths and direction, 3 frequencies of storm surges of various heights along different coastal sections, and 4 frequencies of river flooding and their spatial distribution should be undertaken.

The statistical analysis should provide quantitative support for planning strategies. The design of mitigation measures should follow the statistical analysis and consider long-term effects. Both non-structural and structural mitigation measures should be considered, taking into account the difficulties of implementation. Non-structural measures consist of policies and development practices that are designed to avoid risk, such as land use guidelines, forecasting and warning, and public awareness and education.

Much credit for the reduction of casualties from hurricanes in the Caribbean should be given to the Pan Caribbean Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Project PCDPPP , which has worked effectively with national governments on motivating the population to take preventive measures, such as strengthening roof tie-downs, and on establishing forecasting and warning measures. Structural mitigation measures include the development of building codes to control building design, methods, and materials. The construction of breakwaters, diversion channels, and storm surge gates and the establishment of tree lines are a few examples of mitigation from a public works standpoint.

Reduction of Risk at the Local Level The effectiveness of national emergency preparedness offices of countries in the region is often seriously limited because of inadequate institutional support and a shortage of technical and financial resources. In the smaller Caribbean islands, these offices are mostly one-person operations, with the person in charge responsible for many other non-emergency matters. It would be unrealistic to expect them to be able to act effectively at the local level in cases of area-wide emergencies, such as those caused by hurricanes.

It is therefore essential to enhance the capacity of the population in small towns and villages to prepare for and respond to emergencies by their own means. These activities have resulted in the preparation of a training manual with accompanying video for use by local leaders. This effort has focused on lifeline networks-transportation, communications, water, electricity, sanitation-and critical facilities related to the welfare of the inhabitants, such as hospitals and health centers, schools, police and fire stations, community facilities, and emergency shelters.

The remainder of this chapter is dedicated to a summary overview of the process by which the leadership in a small town or village can introduce effective hazard mitigation. Inventory of Lifeline Networks and Critical Facilities 2. Developing an Understanding of the Total Risk to the Community 6. Formulating a Mitigation Strategy. The degree to which local communities can survive damage and disruption from severe storms and hurricanes also depends to a large extent on how well the basic services and infrastructure, the common goods of the community, stand up to the wind and rain accompanying these storms.

Whereas individual families bear full responsibility for preparing their own shelter to withstand the effects of storms, they have a much more limited role in ensuring that their common services are safeguarded, yet one that cannot be neglected. Non-governmental agencies involved in low income housing construction and upgrading have developed practical and low cost measures for increasing the resistance of self-built houses to hurricane force winds.

Typical of efforts of this nature is the work performed by the Construction Resource and Development Centre CRDC in Jamaica, which produced educational materials and organized workshops on house and roof reconstruction following Hurricane Gilbert. The principal responsibility for introducing an awareness and concern in the community regarding the risk posed by hurricanes to the common good rests with the community leadership and local-or district-disaster coordinator, if such a function exists. It involves a lengthy process of identifying the issues, mobilizing resources from within the community and from outside, and building support for common action.

Such a process consists of six steps: 1 making an inventory of lifeline networks and critical facilities; 2 learning the operation of these and their potential for disruption by a hurricane; 3 checking the vulnerability of the lifelines and critical facilities through field inspection and investigation; 4 establishing a positive working relationship with the agencies and companies that manage the infrastructure and services of the community; 5 developing an understanding of the total risk to the community; 6 formulating and implementing a mitigation strategy.

Inventory of Lifeline Networks and Critical Facilities Lifeline networks and critical facilities are those elements in the economic and social infrastructure that provide essential goods and services to the population in towns and villages.

Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water
Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water
Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water
Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water
Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water
Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water Engineering investigations of hurricane damage : wind versus water

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