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Harvey and Irma: Hurricanes, Floods, and the Days After

They call it hurricane season. That time of year when tropical depressions form off the west coast of Africa somewhere north of the equator. The rotation of the earth and the prevailing winds cause these low-pressure pockets to migrate slowly westward, and if conditions are apt, pick up strength along the way.

As deadly and destructive as hurricane winds are, it is typically the associated water that causes the most physical damage: horizontal rain at 100 mph overwhelming already stressed buildings, prolonged periods of heavy rain inundating drainage infrastructure, and coastal storm surges pushing tidal waters many feet above normal.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma, a record Category 5 storm, is seen in this NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center image from GOES-16 satellite taken on September 5, 2017. Courtesy NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center/Handout via REUTERS

As of this writing Hurricane Irma is just north of Puerto Rico with Category 5, 185 mph winds. And Harvey, a rain event lasting days and dumping up to 50 inches of rain ravaged Texas and Louisiana one week ago. Because of where and how we chose to build our communities, these disaster events will remain inevitable. There are concrete steps we can and should take to improve the resiliency and disaster resistance of the buildings we build, but in reality, much of what we built in the past is disaster prone and not resilient. Read more

NYC Walks the Line Toward Hurricane Joaquin

Hurricane JoaquinIt’s October and a burgeoning category 3 hurricane is forecasted to make its way up the East Coast within the coming week. Somehow this all seems familiar.

It’s been 3 years since Superstorm Sandy came ashore in the New York Metro Area. Much of the damage has been repaired and structures rebuilt, but have we done enough to mitigate the impact of a similar catastrophe? I think we can all agree that likely, we have not. However, progress has been made, and at SWA, we have been working hard over the past 3 years to improve the strength of our buildings through providing resiliency assessments and remediation planning. It’s not a fix-all for the region, but it has helped some buildings to implement upgrades that might make a big difference in the next week. Read more