The Growing Need for Resilience Engineering

05 December 2023
Photo of the Recovery & Resilience Conference speakers (left to right): Matt Pavelchak, Jordan Corbitt, Mark Williams, Wendy Ellard, Ray Drexler, and Parker Wiseman.


Resilience-related consulting and engineering stand out as integral elements in the growth strategy of the AEC industry. The economic impact of disasters such as floods and wildfires, amounts to an average of $100 billion annually in the United States. In 2022, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported that the total cost of disasters reached $165 billion, tying with 2017 and 2011 for the third-highest number of billion-dollar disasters.

As urban development progresses, previously unaffected areas are now vulnerable to flood damage due to rapid stormwater runoff. Safeguarding assets against these natural disasters is essential.

Recovery & Resilience Conference

Resilience Engineering involves constructing complex structures or systems that can withstand change and disruption, ensuring their continued operation in various conditions, be it flooding, high winds, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

Recently, Walter P Moore and Baker Donelson, a national law firm that specializes in FEMA litigation, hosted a Recovery & Resilience Conference, aimed at pinpointing vulnerabilities in the greater Houston area, assessing the risks impacting the current built environment, discussing the cost of inaction, advocating for mitigation, and drawing on lessons learned from past disasters, particularly emphasizing recovery and flood resilience. This effort aimed to contribute valuable thought leadership to the broader conversation on resilience.

“This was an opportunity for our experts to continue toward improving existing infrastructure and influencing new construction to make them more resilient, ultimately educating owners and property managers so they are able to protect valuable assets and business operations,” said Dilip Choudhuri, Walter P Moore’s President & CEO.

Expert strategies for a changed landscape

“The First 48 Hours: Emergency Response and Compliance,” featured insights from Ray Drexler, PE, Senior Project Manager and expert in flood mitigation and restoration. Drexler provided guidance on determining the safety of entering a building and initiating damage assessments in the aftermath of a storm. Stressing the importance of emergency planning, he recommended the distribution of digital copies of plans to response teams.

Mark Williams, Ph.D., PE, SE, PEng, Managing Director of Houston’s Diagnostics Group, delved into post-disaster recovery and adapting to a changed landscape. Mark guided attendees through the preliminary damage assessment, cause and origin investigation, and the development process for cost estimates.

Charlie Penland, PE, LEED, AP, BD+C, Director of Business Development for the Infrastructure Group, discussed the concept of building back stronger and capitalizing on opportunities in the recovery process. Charlie outlined grant requirements for rebuilding, emphasized the importance of understanding and defining flood protection elevation, and shared thoughts on comprehending all sources of flooding.

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