Disaster Recovery

While restoring our cities and communities after a natural disaster, it is critical to rebuild for the next disaster — not just from the last one.

A dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of catastrophes — from windstorms to hurricanes to wildfires — is having a profound impact on communities’ stability and sustainability.

These events can cause transportation agencies to have to rewrite the book on design and construction of infrastructure, and to rebuild with adaptation and resiliency in mind. Building resilient infrastructure keeps the focus on rebuilding for the next disaster — not just from the last one.

Disaster recovery and federal funding
If a disaster does strike, agencies can quickly engage private-sector engineers to assess damage to transportation assets; develop customized work for recovery and rebuilding; bridge knowledge and relationship gaps that may exist between a transportation agency and its local, state and federal partners; and more. Federal funding for disaster recovery largely hinges on local agencies’ early understanding of damages, so it is crucial for them to engage a firm with experience managing and maximizing recovery dollars from the federal government.

Latent damage
While it’s important to act promptly after a disaster, fixing only “apparent” damage may not be enough. Latent damage — the damage that can't always be seen or detected — is a huge issue that can be difficult to assess. For example, floodwaters from a major coastal storm can create mold and corrosion and weaken essential structures over time – long after initial cleanup is complete. Transportation agencies should work with private-sector firms to establish process and procedures that identify, repair and remediate latent damage.

John Basilica, Jr., leads HNTB’s disaster recovery services practice in Texas and Louisiana, and has significant experience in large-scale disaster assessment, recovery and preparedness. He served as program manager for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s $180 million program for repairs to federal-aid-eligible roadways after Hurricane Katrina, and as project manager for Superstorm Sandy Disaster Assistance/Road Repair for the New York City Department of Transportation. Additionally, he served as principal-in-charge on an extension-of-staff services contract for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Agency to overhaul New Orleans’ flood protection system.

Selected HNTB thought leadership

• Resilient construction can protect lives and assets
• Assessing risk differently means building with protective design in mind

Selected media

• Newsday: Amtrak: Sandy tunnel repairs may begin in 2025, cost $1B
• ENR Texas & Louisiana: Recovery, Resilience Are Focus in Harvey’s Wake
• The Advocate: Firm chosen to create stormwater master plan, to determine key drainage projects for Baton Rouge