Engineers to speak on Hurricane Katrina and the future of New Orleans

With the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina here and gone, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tulane University does not want the disastrous event to slip from the national consciousness. To that end, Robert G. Watts, Ph.D., will lead a discussion forum titled “Environmental and Other Issues in a Post-Katrina New Orleans,” to take place on Nov.
By Staff October 1, 2006

With the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina here and gone, a professor of mechanical engineering at Tulane University does not want the disastrous event to slip from the national consciousness.

To that end, Robert G. Watts, Ph.D., will lead a discussion forum titled “Environmental and Other Issues in a Post-Katrina New Orleans,” to take place on Nov. 8 at the Chicago Hilton. The forum, featuring analysis and commentary from engineers and officials overseeing the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, will be held in conjunction with the 2006 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.

“I sense that the American people wish to move on from Hurricane Katrina, however, there exist major environmental, engineering, urban planning and socioeconomic issues in New Orleans,” said Watts, who ranks the devastation brought by Katrina on a scale of Hiroshima in the aftermath of the Allied bombings in World War II.

In the panel discussion beginning at 9:30 a.m., participants will look back on the calamity of August 29, 2005, and assess the structural failings and other conditions that allowed surging storm water to flood 80 percent of New Orleans, wiping out entire neighborhoods and killing hundreds of residents.

The panelists will also report on the progress of the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, some of which Watts believes are shortsighted.