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LIFESim to Evaluate Flood Mortality and Morbidity Risk

LIFESim used to estimate loss of life associated with hurricane-related flood events in New Orleans.
  • Hurricane Katrina flooded roughly 80 percent of the city—Gannett Fleming.

    Gannett Fleming applied the LIFESim model to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

  • LIFESim flood plain map—Gannett Fleming.

    LIFESim modeling results can be used for future risk assessment studies.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

ABT Associates

New Orleans, Louisiana

Our Role
Forensic Investigation, Predictive Analysis.

  • Increases the understanding of risks associated with future hurricane events
  • Improves collaboration between dam and levee owners, and emergency responders
  • Enhances the opportunity to improve emergency preparedness plans
  • Leads to more realistic emergency simulation exercises.

When Hurricane Katrina barreled into the Gulf Coast 10 years ago, the storm surge caused catastrophic failure of the levee system in New Orleans, Louisiana, and left roughly 80 percent of the city under water and in ruin. The monster storm left more than devastation in its wake though. It also created an opportunity to learn more about fatality causation and the effects of future hurricane flooding events under different levels of protection.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, owner of the New Orleans levee system, commissioned a post-Katrina study using LIFESim. LIFESim is a modular, spatially-distributed, dynamic simulation system for estimating life loss from natural, and dam and levee failure floods. The study served to inform decision-makers of the residual risks that exist after hurricane events and to investigate possible risk-reduction measures. 

What We Did

In a study titled, “Evaluation of Flood-Related Human Mortality and Morbidity Risks in New Orleans,” Gannett Fleming applied the LIFESim model to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. The LIFESim model was calibrated using fatality records in five parishes of the Greater New Orleans area in order to closely simulate the Hurricane Katrina event. A series of simulations were performed to evaluate the expected response of suggested protection plans under variable hurricane and flooding scenarios. Data collected through the application of the LIFESim model following Hurricane Katrina was used to assess dam safety risks and explore dam owner and local emergency management options for improving emergency planning and response.

Key Features

  • Study completed using LIFESim technology
  • Nine-volume report completed for the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Awards & Recognition

  • Patriotic Civilian Service Award, 2007, U.S. Department of the Army
  • National Award of Merit, 2006, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Institute of Water Resources Team of the Year, 2006, Institute of Water Resources-U.S. Department of the Army.

Similar Projects: Dams & Levees: Dam Risk & Reliability Assessments, Water/Wastewater: Dams & Levees, Dams & Levees: Flood Hazard & Risk Assessment, Information Technology: Geospatial, Information Technology, Information Technology: Information Technology Services, Water/Wastewater