Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



Historically, shelters and other facilities designated as "essential" during hurricanes have experienced unacceptable damage during recent hurricanes, exposing the occupants to uncomfortable and dangerous conditions. One of the reasons for this is the lack of standards or design guidelines addressing the special considerations required for such facilities. A new approach to the design of essential facilities in hurricane regions is proposed. The goal of this work is to create a tool for improving the safety and serviceability of evacuation shelters and other critical facilities utilized during hurricane events. This is achieved by developing a new philosophy based on selection of a design hurricane event of a specific intensity, corresponding to a Hurricane Category (on the Saffir-Simpson scale). This design basis provides critical information to emergency managers for making evacuation and sheltering decisions. Performance-based design criteria were then developed for five different types of "essential" facilities based on their required function before, during, and after the hurricane event. Loads and load combinations consistent with the design hurricane event were also developed. The specific factors addressed include; design wind speed, directionality factor, site exposure, enclosure classification, importance factor, rain load, flood load, load factors and load combinations, and debris impact. Also addressed were other special considerations, such as the flooding hazards and mass care issues. A comparison was made between the design recommendations presented in this thesis and current practice. Several aspects of this thesis are geographically unique, including the hurricane filling rate after landfall, flooding issues, and rainfall issues. Specific recommendations for these factors were made only for the Gulf Coast region of the United States. The same methodology could, however, be applied to any region of the country exposed to hurricanes.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Marc L. Levitan