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Disaster Preparedness and Response

ASCE Team Investigates Tsunami Damage in Japan

The first of as many as seven ASCE reconnaissance teams to investigate the damage caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami arrived in Japan on April 15. Led by structural engineer Gary Chock, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE, president of the Honolulu-based practice Martin & Chock, the first team is documenting the performance of buildings and other structures not addressed by other teams. The team is concentrating on Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, with a focus on how what they learn can be incorporated into the tsunami structural design provisions under development for the next revision of the ASCE 7 standard, Minimum Design Standards for Buildings and Other Structures.

Read Gary Chock's Blog.

New Zealand: SEI Team of Five Engineers Explores Earthquake Damage

Six weeks after the tragic, devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand on Feb. 22, an ASCE-sanctioned Structural Engineering Institute team of five arrived in the city to investigate the massive destruction to the city's critical infrastructure. Since its departure from San Francisco on Monday, April 4, team leader Robert Pekelnicky, P.E., S.E., LEED AP, M.ASCE, has provided a daily first-person journal, detailing their findings in Christchurch. Pekelnicky, a member of the ASCE/SEI Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings Standards Committee, is a structural engineer who is an associate principal at Degenkolb in San Francisco. Pekelnicky illustrates his experiences with many photographs.

Joplin Missouri: ASCE/SEI Team Examines Damage

The 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, led 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. Read their blog describing their survey of the damage caused to residential buildings, critical facilities such as hospitals, and schools from the tornado. Their objective is to relate the damage to estimates of wind speed (where possible) and wind pressure. The team also recorded construction methods observed, and the building codes in force at the time of construction.

New Zealand: First-hand accounts from SEI Members

During the recent earthquake several SEI members were onsite in New Zealand on educational assignments.

SEI member and ASCE Distinguished Member, David T. Biggs, P.E., S.E., Dist.M.ASCE, HTMS, was in Christchurch, coincidentally delivering a seminar lecture on structural engineering and seismic forensics when the earthquake struck. In an exclusive to ASCE, Biggs provides a diary detailing his experiences as the quake struck, and how he joined fellow engineers in applying his expertise to assessing the safety of buildings in Christchurch. Read David's blog.

Also in Christchurch at the time of the earthquake was Structural Engineering Institute president Roberto T. Leon, P.E., Ph.D. The professor of structural engineering, engineering mechanics and materials at Georgia Institute of Technology was a week into the start of a teaching fellowship at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Read Leon's report to ASCE about his experience of what it was like during and after the quake, on and around campus. Read Roberto's report.