BUFFALO, N.Y. — Five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, James N. Jensen, PhD, University at Buffalo professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering, says that probably the biggest lesson learned from that disaster was that municipalities and citizens now take orders to evacuate much more seriously.
Jensen was one of six UB researchers that visited the Gulf Coast soon after Katrina hit, as part of a National Science Foundation-funded reconnaissance mission organized by UB’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. Research into “extreme events” and disaster mitigation/ response is a strategic strength of the university identified in the UB 2020 strategic plan.
“By the time Hurricane Rita hit not long after Katrina, there was something like a 95 percent evacuation rate,” Jensen recalls. “People had really gotten the message.”