Civil engineer: Hard Rock’s rubble could provide information

Updated: Feb. 3, 2020 at 10:35 PM CST
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The wreckage of the partially collapsed Hard Rock hotel is supposed  to be imploded in mid-March.
The wreckage of the partially collapsed Hard Rock hotel is supposed to be imploded in mid-March.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A local civil engineer says once the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel is imploded the rubble could be helpful to investigators.

"You’ll be able to recover things and you’ll be able to put together pieces to try and reconstruct parts if you take the time and effort,” UNO Civil Engineering Prof. Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E, said.

Mattei, who is a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, says in general implosions have risks.

"It's not an exact science, there's still risk and you're dealing with explosives, so that can be a very dangerous risk,” she said.

And Mattei agrees with Mayor Latoya Cantrell that underground gas lines must be factored into the planning for the demolition of the crumpled building.

"Whenever you’re dealing with any type of gas line and if you don’t evacuate the line and clear it out and you set off an explosion you can have some type of a spark, or you can have some type of a metallic object that hits at a high velocity a metallic object and causes a spark,” she said.

The New Orleans Athletic Club sits next to a cordoned-off area of the tattered multi-story building and some of the club’s members braced for the possibility of not being able to access the facility for a period of time due to the planned implosion of the construction site.

"Oh sure, we couldn’t come here for a week after the thing happened or maybe more than that,” Nora Marsh said.

Wolf Staud hopes his workout location is not affected.

"That hopefully will not happen and they hopefully make a plan that especially this place will not be affected by it, this is a very historic building on top of everything,” Staud said.

Mattei says planning for the March implosion must be meticulous given the building’s current shape.

"It would be a little less risky if you had a building that was 100 percent intact and you had the plans and you understood what you were dealing with, but we’re dealing with some unknowns because of the condition of a failed building,” she said.

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