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Publication Abstract

Coast in the Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005

White, T. D., McAnally, W. H., Truax, D., Cole, H., Eamon, C., Zhang, L., Gullett, P., Fitzpatrick, P. J., Lau, Y. H., Bhate, S. K., & Li, Y. (2006). Coast in the Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005. Starkville, MS: Mississippi State University. 86 pp.

A study was conducted that involved inspection of damage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Katrina. Observations were made of damage to buildings and infrastructure as well as materials used in their construction. These observations were documented photographically and catalogued. Major storm characteristics were determined such as storm extent, wind speeds, and storm surge height. Associated tornadoes and other wind events were also addressed. Data was obtained from storm simulations, sensors, radar records and post Katrina engineering studies. Hurricane Katrina characteristics relative to other storms of record are compared. A careful study was made of building codes, residential and commercial. Discussion is provided of building code evolvement and current status. Particular interest was paid to the referenced standards providing design criteria for wind and flood loads. Some comparisons were possible of actual Hurricane Katrina winds and surge levels with those in the current guidance. Degree of damage depended on type of material, construction (light or engineered) and if a structure was subject to wind or a combination of storm surge and wind. The study of Hurricane Katrina characteristics revealed the need for a hurricane classification format with an expanded scale for storm surge level. That modification (MSU Saffir-Simpson Scale) is proposed as being more effective in communicating to the public and responders storm surge danger for any particular hurricane event. Review of existing and proposed building codes and design guides for both wind and flooding indicates utilization of land use planning and proposed building codes could mitigate future storm events. This includes hurricanes along the Gulf Coast and storms inland. Implementation of building codes infers trained staff for review, inspection and acceptance of projects. These functions should be supervised by an engineering department