Section 5: I-35W Bridge Collapse Case Study
On August 1, 2007 at approximately 6:05 p.m. 1,064-foot section of the 1,907-foot long I-35W highway bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. This catastrophic failure of the main bridge span resulted in the death of 13 people and injuring 145 others. In total, 111 documented vehicles were on the bridge at the time that it collapsed. Included in this total are 25 construction vehicles.
The 1994 Northridge earthquake was a disaster, as it “involved an entire community” (Edwards, 2013). The earthquake resulted in extensive damage to the infrastructure of the community and localized, long term, multidimensional negative effects to the surrounding communities (Edwards, 2013). While the earthquake had many characteristics of a catastrophe, it did not include “significant damage to the disaster response assets and deaths or injuries to emergency response personnel” (Edwards, 2013). The earthquake required assets from outside the community, such as Caltrans and the FHWA. Also, the damage and disruption was “confined to a sufficiently narrow geographic area” (Edwards, 2013).
The historical event of Hurricane Katrina, a category three hurricane with winds ranging from 111-130 mph, in August 2005 revealed major structural failures in the levee systems of New Orleans. Though not all structural failures are as catastrophic, the breeched levees led to loss of life, homes, businesses, highways, and left a trail of destruction that is still being repaired today. The result of this failure led to lawsuits, conspiracy theories, and court cases. Hurricane Katrina had a major effect upon our country and those results are still rippling on today. Though a city once devastated, major improvements to the failed system have been made and leave the city feeling safe once again.
The initial response or lack thereof, to the widespread disaster in the Gulf Coast, caused by Hurricane Katrina, demonstrated high levels of incompetence and disorganization by government officials. Images of desperate individuals awaiting rescue on their rooftops, and masses of people packed together in deplorable conditions in the Super Dome, circulated the globe. There was no hiding from the painful reality and the obvious inaction or inability of those responsible to care for these individual in the wake of this catastrophe. (12, 791)
September 11th, 2001 was the day the United States changed forever. A total of nineteen terrorists hijacked four planes, two of which crashed into the World Trade Towers. The third plane managed to destroy part of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the fourth plane crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The terrorist attacks killed around an estimated two-thousand and nine hundred people. The nineteen men belonged to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Unfortunately, due to the severe damage, the two towers collapsed within thirty minutes of each other.
“ASCE Assesses Infrastructure Crisis.” Professional safety 52.11 (2007): 6-. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
In response, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took days to establish operations in New Orleans, and lacked a plan of action. Even President George W. Bush seemed oblivious to the severity of what happened, the amount of people stranded or missing, how many buildings were damaged, and how much help was needed. The people remained desperate in their desolated communities as the government seemed to take a relaxed approach to the emergency. In desperation, tens of thousands of people broke into the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center looking to discover a glimmer of hope in the form of food, water, and shelter. Meanwhile, it was nearly impossible to leave New Orleans despite the evacuation that was put in place. Poor people who wished to leave did not have anywhere to go, nor a car to transport them. Others who tried to escape by walking over the Crescent City Connector bridge were rudely met by police with shotguns forcing them to turn back ("Hurricane Katrina."). The controversial reaction was highly publicized, causing officials from federal, state, and local agencies to blame and state accusations. For example, critics blamed an aging and disregarded federal levee system and a slow state and local response following the disaster for the unreasonably high loss of life and damage. Also, residents ignoring initial warnings to leave, strained the effectiveness of the rescue operations (Zimmermann). In defense of the importance of efficient response and evacuation, strong levees will ultimately continue to break because water has no way of escaping the below sea level regions. Evacuation is better because damage will happen anyways, so continuing to build extensive levees is a waste of money and resources. In the event of a major storm, levees will help, but prioritizing evacuation will same more lives. A better evacuation procedure will benefit
.... The lessons learned from the many events will provide an extensive knowledge base and benchmark that all emergency managers can draw from to better position citizens for survival of large scale evacuations and sheltering events.
Hazards pose risk to everyone. Our acceptance of the risks associated with hazards dictates where and how we live. As humans, we accept a certain amount of risk when choosing to live our daily lives. From time to time, a hazard becomes an emergent situation. Tornadoes in the Midwest, hurricanes along the Gulf Coast or earthquakes in California are all hazards that residents in those regions accept and live with. This paper will examine one hazard that caused a disaster requiring a response from emergency management personnel. Specifically, the hazard more closely examined here is an earthquake. With the recent twenty year anniversary covered by many media outlets, the January 17, 1994, Northridge, California earthquake to date is the most expensive earthquake in American history.
The events of September have made disaster recovery planning rise to the top of every organization's IT department priority list. Until the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, few companies had even invested in shared data backups. Raging Wire Telecommunications, a California disaster recovery firm, estimates that the 1993 bombing put half the 350 companies in the World Trade Center out of business because of the disruption. Thanks to improvements in disaster recovery planning, more tenants of the recent World Center disaster will be spared, according to Raging Wire. However, about 82 percent of all companies still don't have adequate disaster recovery plans in place, according to Raging Wire.