College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Teams of scientists looking for lessons in storm’s aftermath

A devoted cadre of scientists bent on untangling information and explanations from the debris has toured Joplin, hoping to learn some lessons from the rubble about surviving tornadoes such as the one that hit May 22.

Three researchers from Iowa — Bill Gallus, Partha Sarkar and Chris Karstens — focus on structural damage.

They want to know why some people lived and others died, and why this tornado was among the deadliest in history.

The short answer: The country needs better buildings to ensure that houses, schools and businesses can bear the brunt of these violent storms. Hiding in a hallway just doesn’t cut it. And it’s about more than saving lives, although that is a prime focus.

“Schools, hospitals, other essential structures — we cannot afford to lose them,” said Sarkar. Especially not in a storm. “These are places people go to for help.”

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