Southern Louisiana & Eastern Texas


Compass Joint Venture for FEMA Region VI



Core Practices

Services Provided

  • Community Disaster Resilience
  • Infrastructure Damage Assessment and Inspection
  • Structural Engineering Support
  • Building Condition Inspections

Project Overview

Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane at Cameron in the state of Louisiana on August 27, 2020. Laura produced wind speeds of approximately 150 mph and coastal storm surge was reported to be over nine feet. The deadly storm destroyed residential dwellings and many other buildings as well as leaving hundreds of thousands without power displacing a large portion of the population. Laura is yet another storm rivaling the damaging effects of other similar storms.

As part of the Compass Joint Venture, T&M provided inspectors to assess the damage to structures per NFIP guidelines and leveraging FEMA’s Substantial Damage Estimation (SDE) tool. T&M staff provided much-needed structural engineering guidance to the collective Compass Team as well as Field Operations Leadership.

SDE data collection and field inspections were performed 6-days a week for up to 12-14 hours per day over the course of October 2020-January 2021. Buildings were evaluated for a variety of structural and finish characteristics to include (but not limited to):

  • Structure Type 
  • Number of Stories
  • Foundation Type
  • Superstructure Type
  • Roof Covering & Exterior Finishes
  • Cause of Damage & Duration
  • Cause of Damage & Duration
  • Base Cost & Cost Adjustments
  • Element Percent Damaged & Supporting Photographs

As part of preparing for field operations, T&M staff led pre-deployment field training, which includes more than the typical technical requirements of the FEMA SDE Software – to include practical guidance relating to how to respond to distraught persons trying to grapple with the reality of post-storm damages. T&M provided structural engineering support which helped junior staff understand the appropriate level of damage percentages to apply whereby limiting and minimizing the number of inspections kicked-back for re-inspection. Each of these aspects of the field operations are important to efficiency such that when coupled with adequate daily preparations are among the key aspects in which T&M staff excelled during deployment to make each day as efficient and productive as possible – so that citizens affected by Laura are able to get back to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible under the circumstances.

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