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Joplin, Mo., Tornado Damage Studied by ASCE-SEI Reconnaissance Team

Team Arrives, Briefed by Local FEMA Chief

David PrevattThe most powerful tornado ever recorded in the United States tore through Joplin, Mo., on May 22, causing at least 130 fatalities and the destruction of about 8,000 structures along the vast tornado path. David O. Prevatt, Ph.D, P.E., M.ASCE, of the University of Florida’s Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, along with graduate student David Roueche, are leading a team of researchers from University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), Iowa State University, Oregon State University and South Dakota State University,  as well as representatives from Simpson Strong-Tie, the Applied Technology Council and local practicing engineers. Beginning Sunday, May 29, through Thursday June 2, the group is surveying the damage caused to residential buildings, critical facilities such as hospitals, and schools from the tornado, in order to relate the damage to estimates of wind speed (where possible) and wind pressure. The team will also record construction methods observed, and the building codes in force at the time of construction.  Over the next few days, Prevatt and his teammates will post their findings here.  

Read each day's entries:
Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3   

Arrival – Sunday, May 29

Joplin, Mo., locator mapMost of the damage assessment team have arrived in Missouri this evening. We are spending the night about 45 minutes away from Joplin. The team includes three local engineers. The team met with Ms. Wesley Parker, mitigation branch chief of FEMA’s Joint Field Office in Columbia, Mo., who provided us with maps and aerial photographs of the tornado damage. The team distributed GPS units, cameras and data loggers in preparation for the first day’s surveys tomorrow. More details to come.