Project Management

Katrina Revisited (Part 2)

Bob Weinstein is a journalist who covers technology, project management, the workplace and career development.

If crisis managers knew about Adrian Bejan’s constructal law of design in nature, much of the damage and pandemonium wrought by Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005, could have been avoided. Bejan is a scientist and chaired professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University in North Carolina.
While all the Gulf Coast states were affected by Katrina, New Orleans took the brunt of the damage. Fifteen million people were affected, 1 million were left homeless, 400,000 jobs were lost and 1,836 people died. Some estimates place the damage at $81.2 billion. Even though Katrina was a historic event, like most catastrophes reported during the past decade, the story slowly wound its way to the back pages of newspapers and was seldom covered by broadcast journalists.
For many historians, crisis managers and journalists, however, the Katrina story never ended. There were still huge pieces of the Katrina puzzle that were missing. And there are many unanswered questions, such as: Could the devastation have been drastically minimized? Why did it take so long to dispatch aid to the ravaged city? And, could an event of similar magnitude happen again?
According to Bejan’s constructal theory, the underlying reasons explaining the extent of the damage lie in the motion of flow systems. “Flow configurations or channels are constantly …

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