Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy

I confess that I listen to a lot of pop music while driving to work, mostly because I forget to change the station after dropping the kids off. It can be slightly embarrassing if I drive with a coworker and I’m tuned into the “all Bieber, all day” station when I start the car.

On Monday, I was without kids and managed to hear several news stories on NPR about Hurricane Sandy. Transcript of one story is here and the NPR blog post about it is here.

The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force released a report titled Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy. The report has 69 recommendations ranging from complex, such as setting minimum flood elevations that account for projected sea level rise, to relatively simple, such as states and localities adopting and enforcing the most current versions of the IBC® and IRC®.

The recommendations cover energy, infrastructure, sanitation, water, fuel supply, internet, transportation, and too many other things to list. But if I had to pick one word to summarize the report, it would be:

Resilience: The ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.

Regardless of whether the natural disaster is high wind, earthquake, flood or fire, there has been a shift in public policy over the past decade to emphasize resilience. Resilience is a cycle. It begins with mitigation before the disaster. Some examples of mitigation that have appeared in this blog:

Seismic Retrofit of Unreinforced Masonry (URM) Buildings

Soft-Story Retrofits

Building a Storm Shelter to ICC-500 Design Requirements

Designing new buildings with specific performance targets is a form of mitigation as well. Resilience continues with response after the disaster, and then short and long-term recovery plans to reduce the time between disaster and recovery.

Have recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy changed the way you are designing? Let us know by posting a comment.

– Paul

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Paul McEntee

Author: Paul McEntee

A couple of years back we hosted a “Take your daughter or son to work day,” which was a great opportunity for our children to find out what their parents did. We had different activities for the kids to learn about careers and the importance of education in opening up career opportunities. People often ask me what I do for Simpson Strong-Tie and I sometimes laugh about how my son Ryan responded to a questionnaire he filled out that day: Q.   What is your mom/dad's job? A.   Goes and gets coffee and sits at his desk Q.   What does your mom/dad actually do at work? A.   Walks in the test lab and checks things When I am not checking things in the lab or sitting at my desk drinking coffee, I manage Engineering Research and Development for Simpson Strong-Tie, focusing on new product development for connectors and lateral systems. I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in California. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, I worked for 10 years as a consulting structural engineer designing commercial, industrial, multi-family, mixed-use and retail projects. I was fortunate in those years to work at a great engineering firm that did a lot of everything. This allowed me to gain experience designing with wood, structural steel, concrete, concrete block and cold-formed steel as well as working on many seismic retrofits of historic unreinforced masonry buildings.

1 thought on “Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy”

  1. One of the best and most economical flood damage measures is preventing construction of buildings within the x-year flood boundaries (x-year can be the 100-year flood, but in parts of Ontario we use a flood with a define rainfall pattern, which results in floods of between 300-year and 500-year return periods). Buildings that already exist can remain, of course, but if new buildings are proposed in their place, they must be keep the existing building footprint and be flood-proofed to the x-year level. In Ontario, this method has been applied since the mid 1950s and currently Ontario suffers low flood damages (most flood damages are restricted to public works, which cannot be kept off the flood limits. For those who are interested, see the Ministry of Natural Resources site at

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