NIST launches study of Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced it will study the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, focusing “specifically on the performance of critical buildings and their dependence on distributed infrastructure (such as electricity and water), as well as emergency communications and the public’s response to those communications,” the announcing release reads.
“The results of NIST’s analysis will help us improve our codes, standards and practices in order to strengthen buildings and infrastructure in hurricane-prone areas. This will save lives and protect property in future storms,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says.
Under the National Construction Safety Team (NCST) Act, NIST is authorized to establish teams to investigate building failures “that have resulted in substantial loss of life or that posed the potential for substantial loss of life,” the agency wrote.
Walter Copan, the undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST director, added that the “investigations provide practical new knowledge about the performance of America’s buildings and their supporting infrastructure to help protect lives and ensure the resilience of buildings, building systems and critical services,” and that the “process will ensure that the nation captures and uses what we learn from the tragic losses experienced in the wake of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.”
Based on a preliminary reconnaissance to Puerto Rico in December, Copan authorized the NCST investigation to determine:
- “the characteristics of the storm hazards–the pattern, location and cause of injuries and fatalities;
- the performance of emergency communications systems and the public’s response to such communications; and
- the performance of representative critical buildings and designated safe areas in those buildings, including their dependence on infrastructure such as electricity and water.”
It is the first time NIST will conduct a full NCST investigation in the aftermath of a major hurricane,” according to the agency.