Hurricane Pam

The Hurricane Pam Simulation

By Alexander Earley


Hurricane Pam was a simulated Hurricane created in 2004 for a 5-day exercise at State Emergency Operations Center at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that coincidentally foretold the coming Hurricane Katrina. It was created by the National Weather Service, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, The LSU Hurricane Center, and other state and federal agencies. Officials from 50 organizations attended the exercise. It was created to help people prepare for a Hurricane hitting Louisiana, specifically the New Orleans area. It focused specifically on 13 parishes: Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Terrebonne. In the simulation, Hurricane Pam was a slow moving category 3 that was created to sustain winds of 120 mph, and brought up to 20 inches of rain to parts of southeast Louisiana. It created a storm surge that topped the levees in New Orleans, flooding the city. Had this been real, over 1 million people would have been evacuated, and 500 to 600 thousand buildings would have been destroyed. The storm would have left 175,000 injured, and 61,000 dead. Hurricane Katrina, a similar hurricane to Pam, caused over 1,800 people to lose their lives, and caused over $81 billion dollars worth of damage.



As a result of this exercise, plans were put into place to prepare for this eventuality. It was estimated that the storm would leave 30 million cubic yards of debris and 237 thousand cubic yards of hazardous waste in its wake, so landfills with space for the debris and hazardous waste disposal sites were identified. Approximately 1000 shelters were estimated to be needed, so they located 784 shelters and put together plans to find the rest. They also devised a plan to supply the shelters for the 100 days they would be open. A transport plan was put in place for getting stranded residents out of danger. It became apparent that, if a flood ever happened, it would bring various diseases, so medical experts started looking for ways to vaccinate them, along with ways to move hospital patients from one hospital to another. It was calculated that 13 to 15 thousand teachers would be needed to support schools affected by a tragedy similar to Pam, and ways to make room for more students in unaffected schools were discussed, as well as the idea of building temporary schools. Sadly, though, the preparations were not finished quickly enough, and everyone was caught by surprise when Hurricane Katrina ravaged through New Orleans.

And now for your Daily Fun Fact!

Did you know that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a hurricane? It is a huge one, the size of 3 Earths across. It was first discovered by Galileo around 300 years ago.



Disaster Science
By The Editors of Klutz
Klutz 1998, California

FEMA: Hurricane Pam Exercise Concludes

FEMA’s “Pam” Simulation Foretold Katrina Disaster

“The Storm That Drowned a City” video

Hurricane Katrina

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