An open letter to the Mayor of New Orleans, The Fire Chief, local Officials, The Hard Rock Hotel Corporation, The Construction Company, the involved Insurance Companies and most importantly the families of the victims.
I just became aware that a dead body has been dangling, with feet sticking out from, an upper floor of the Hard Rock Hotel, in New Orleans. This has been a visual gruesome nightmare for the last 3 months. Obviously, nobody or any organization has the skill to recover this victim of a construction collapse or it would have been done, by now. A tarp had been lowered to cover the body from public view. The wind shifted the tarp and the dead body came into public view. This created a public relations horror story for New Orleans prior to Mardi Gras.
From my experience, I know exactly what to do.
I have searched 896 collapsed buildings most of them far more dangerous than this; because of continuing aftershocks. Aftershocks further collapsed 3 buildings while I was inside of them. I assure you that this was frightening. It felt like, adrenaline was squirting out of my ears. I did survive because I knew what to do, to avoid being crushed.
In context according to OSHA (Dept of Occupational Safety and Health Administration USA) statistically, 60% of ‘rescuers’ are killed every time one of them tries to enter a collapsed building. So, I have been skillful enough to do something 896 times with a 60% probability of death. I was told by a VP of Underwriting that my premium would be $940. per $1,000 of coverage because I had already approached the actuarial certitude of death (1989).
At least 100 of those buildings that I have searched were more complicated than the Hard Rock Hotel collapse.
From my experience, I know exactly what to do.
Let me correct several misleading and wrong public comments about this scenario. Proposals to use a helicopter would be a mistake. Helicopters have a restricted altitude of 1,000 ft above a collapsed building. This is due to the downwash force from the blades causing a further collapse in a damaged building.
Airbags to lift the concrete were suggested. Airbags are clumsy, crude and imprecise. They are not suitable for a collapsed building which requires precise control.
Using a jlift, crane or ladder truck is probably too short to reach the height necessary.
Rappelling down the side of the building over the rubble is a possibility. It will be dangerous because it is not possible to descend directly above the victim.
The first choice is to enter the collapse from the undamaged area and tunnel to the victim. If the search route is blocked by concrete then it will be necessary to cut an access route through the concrete without causing vibration. Normal concrete cutting tools will be unusable, pneumatic tools will cause further collapse.
In 1986 it was necessary at a collapsed building in Greece, for us to improvise. We used an Oxy-Acetaline setup with a 10 ft long galvanized pipe to blast a cutting flame out the end of the pipe. The effect was that the concentrated heat caused the moisture inside of the concrete to turn into vapor. The concrete under the torch popped off like popcorn. This resulted in an ability to cut an entry hole through concrete without causing vibration and allowed for precise cutting.
Understand that a ‘complete’ body will not be recovered. My experience is that dead bodies do not remain intact for long. Rats are drawn by the scent. I would plan to place the remains in a body bag for obvious reasons.
For 35 years, I have worked at more than 100 major disasters. I have more than 1,000 thankyou letters and awards from Presidents, Prime Ministers, Royalty and others throughout the world.
At every single disaster, I worked as an unpaid volunteer. I do not want any financial gain. I pray to God before I go inside of any collapsed building. I would not dare to do it for money. I do not want to be paid for this mission.
My Health issues: I was severely injured at 911. I was first hospitalized on Sept 27, 2001. I have been severely and chronically ill every single day since. Enough poison toxified my body for 510 people to be legally certified as lead poisoned. Thousands of toxins; including 35 neural toxins at levels up to 5,000 times the ‘normal’ safe limit were found in my bloodstream.
Now, my intellectual capabilities, my general health have improved to the point that I can do this. Nobody knows as much about collapsed buildings as me.
A team of neural specialists has determined that my neural toxicity/degeneration will leave me completely paralyzed. They informed me that there is nothing that can be done to prevent this. I have had some success, using my own research at slowing down the progressive paralysis; however, my extremities are becoming numb.
Now, is the time. Perhaps, this will be my last mission.
Finally regarding demolition: I worked throughout North America doing the most complicated and sometimes ‘impossible’ jobs with a creative flair. It was reported that the Hard Rock Hotel Corporation/ Construction Company wanted to use a ‘regular’/slow /conventional demolition method.
The Mayor is under tremendous political pressure to recover the victim. Mardi Gras brings $400 million/yr to NOLA. It was reported that she is choosing a ‘controlled’ demolition method. In other words ‘imploding’. Normally, imploding a building requires using jackhammers to remove the concrete from concrete-encased steel columns. Then all of the exposed steel beams have ‘shape charges’attached (when ignited they give off enough heat to cut the steel that they are strapped onto.) Finally, all of the columns are tied together with steel cables. The shaped charges are ignited in the desired pattern to allow a ‘domino effect’ to take place pulling the building in any downward direction required.
Using a completely ‘controlled demolition’ method would endanger the lives of all the workers on site. The vibration would cause unwanted and unpredictable collapse during the preparation process. I recommend a combination of both methods. Use a controlled demolition process in the least damaged areas and normal demolition in the collapse area.
I will forward this offer to the appropriate persons. I am in New Orleans. I planned to stay a short time; however, I will stay longer if necessary.
I understand the legal issues, the numerous lawsuits, the ‘politics’, the bureaucracy and a litany of other problems that prevent us from doing the right thing. This is the USA.
Finally, I will sign a ‘hold harmless’ agreement drawn up by the lawyers of the involved parties. If I should be injured or killed then neither myself, nor my heirs will receive any compensation, of any kind, whatsoever.
I do have a requirement: I demand that I am in complete charge inside of the collapsed building. If anyone else makes a mistake then they will kill everyone. I know what I am doing. My instructions will be followed precisely. If anyone else comes inside then they will do as I do, walk where I walk and go where I go. They will follow my precise footsteps.