The Structural Extreme Events Reconnaissance (StEER) Network is pleased to release our Preliminary Virtual Reconnaissance Report (PVRR) summarizing its findings on the impacts of Hurricane Dorian to the Bahamas and the US. The report was prepared by StEER’s Virtual Assessment Structural Team (VAST) and relies upon publicly available news reports, social media, and other resources. The PVRR can be accessed at https://aub.ie/steer_dorian_pvrr and will be curated on NHERI DesignSafe with full citation information at the end of this email. The PVRR serves as the precursor to the on-site investigations that will be conducted by the StEER Field Assessment Structural Teams (FAST) once affected sites in the Bahamas is are accessible for non-humanitarian missions.
Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Abaco Islands and then stalled over Grand Bahama Island as a Category 5 hurricane, presenting a worst-case scenario of prolonged periods of high winds and storm surge for the islands, resulting in the displacement of more than 60,000 persons. At this time, there are at least 50 confirmed direct fatalities, but that number is likely to increase significantly as recovery efforts in the hardest hit areas continue. As has occurred in many previous disasters, the most vulnerable communities bore the brunt of this event: two mainly Haitian refugee communities, The Mudd and Pigeon Peas, in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.
This report provides a factual, engineering perspective on the impacts in the Bahamas and the US, recognizing the tremendous tragedy and loss of life, while simultaneously acknowledging the successful performance of many structures that likely saved many lives, such as the Marsh Harbor Healthcare Center, which served as a storm shelter and was functional immediately after the passage of the hurricane. Section 8 of the PVRR includes themes StEER recommends for future study by the natural hazards engineering research community and is coordinating its field investigations under these themes as soon as possible. StEER also recognizes the importance of investigating several complementary topics including accounting for informal settlements in land use planning and development, impacts of slow-progression hurricanes on decision-making, and the reframing of disaster risk for small island nations. Such topics fall outside the purview of StEER but are nonetheless critical opportunities to learn from this disaster to inform research, policy and practice, and are discussed further in Section 8 of the report.
Kijewski-Correa, T. Alagusundaramoorthy, P. Alsieedi, M. Crawford, S. Gartner, M. Gutierrez Soto, M. Heo, Y. Lester, H. Marshall, J. Micheli, L. mulchandani, H. Prevatt, D. Roueche, D. Johnson, V. Mosalam, K. Robertson, I. (2019) “StEER - Hurricane Dorian Preliminary Virtual Reconnaissance Report (PVRR)”, in StEER - Hurricane Dorian Response. DesignSafe-CI. https://doi.org/10.12345/ABCDEF.