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 October 2007

Making A Difference ASTM Members Respond to Hurricane Katrina

ASTM International standards are integral components in protecting people and property during disasters, as well as in rebuilding efforts once a disaster has occurred. In addition to their work on such standards, ASTM members are often directly involved in relief efforts after a natural or man-made catastrophe. The following members, who have been involved in various efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, are just a few examples of how ASTM members have made a difference when disasters have struck throughout the world.

Rebuilding in Musicians’ Village

“For several years, our task group has held its winter meeting in New Orleans, adjacent to the French Quarter,” says Valerie Block, chair of Task Group E06.51.13 on Glass Strength and senior marketing specialist, DuPont Building Innovations. “We love the ambiance of the Quarter, its food and atmosphere.” After their meeting in January, four members of the task group, which is part of Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help build a house in the Upper Ninth Ward of the city.

Task Group E06.51.13 members at the Upper Ninth Ward construction site. (Left to right:) Jeff Haberer (standing), Bill Lingnell, Valerie Block, Chris Hardwood, Habitat supervisor Ben Magallon (standing)

In addition to Block, task group members Jeffery Haberer, Bill Lingnell and Chris Harwood spent a day working on a house in Musicians’ Village. “It was exciting to be part of this worthwhile project to rebuild homes in New Orleans,” says Block.

Haberer echoes Block’s enthusiasm for the project. “I love coming to New Orleans and I really wanted to give something back,” says
Haberer. “It is just a token of respect and affection that I have for this city as well as a very small step helping to rebuild the area.” Block notes that she is hopeful that the task group will be able to work on a house again after the January 2008 task group meeting.

A Mission of Love

Less than two weeks after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Robert Elston, a member of Committee D20 on Plastics, traveled to Louisiana with a group called Mission of Love. Louisiana State Police assigned the group to provide medical services to two districts in New Orleans. Following this assignment, Mission of Love members sought out bayou communities where they could distribute provisions, bedding and household supplies being trucked from Northeast Ohio, where group members lived. In the aftermath of Katrina, Mission of Love adopted the town of Jean Lafitte, and Elston has returned with the group four times to help build houses for the neediest families in the area.

Working Through Two Storms

Nick Albergo is president of HSA Engineers & Scientists, a company that provides engineering services to insurance companies. As a member of Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action, Albergo provides site assessment and remediation services and is a trainer in the use of E 1527, Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process and E 1903, Guide for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Process.

“We got hammered two ways,” says Albergo. “We were in the midst of providing hurricane relief in the gulf region for Katrina while at the same time Florida got hit by Hurricane Wilma, knocking out many HSA offices. So we were stretched in both directions.” With more than 75 employees displaced in Florida and many clients unable to pay for services due to the hurricanes, HSA continued to provide services following the storms. For its efforts, HSA received a Hurricane Relief Achievement Award from the National Environmental Business Journal in 2005.

Testing the Levee Soil

Allen Marr, president and CEO, Geocomp Corporation, and a member of Committees D18 on Soil and Rock and D35 on Geosynthetics, was chosen to be a member of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Interagency Performance Evaluation Taskforce. Marr tested soil samples obtained from the failed 17th Street Canal levee using ASTM and Army Corps of Engineers standards. “Having standards was very helpful because we could get right to work and we didn’t have to go back and forth over the appropriate testing techniques,” says Marr.

Marr says that the experience showed him the enormous amount of damage that can result from the failure of a foundation. “Also, we learned that from a technical standpoint, today’s testing methods can give us the right answers provided we use them appropriately.”