Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Document Type



With the population of hurricane prone regions increasing, it has become more difficult to evacuate entire communities, increasing the need for hurricane shelters in coastal areas. Community officials generally use American Red Cross Standard ARC 4496 to evaluate the suitability of buildings for use as shelters.. ARC 4496 uses a least-risk process that evaluates many building and site characteristics. However, it does not address characteristics of the approaching storm and does not provide insight to the expected hazards and performance of the facility under different hurricane conditions. A new method for evaluating facilities for use as hurricane shelters is proposed. Following a performance-based approach, shelter suitability analysis is conducted for a range of different hurricane scenarios. Storm variables considered include Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity and storm track. This new method provides information for more efficient and effective sheltering decisions, in terms of use, operations, and mitigation. Expected flood and wind conditions for different hurricane scenarios are compared with resistance to these hazards, providing insight to anticipated shelter performance. The new shelter evaluation method was evaluated in a real case study for a large public hospital in the New Orleans area. The results of the case study were used to help the hospital develop its operational sheltering plans and evaluate mitigation alternatives. Some of the recommendations related to shelter operations were put into place during Hurricane Katrina.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Marc Levitan