After any kind of disaster or devastating event there is always the "could we have done more?" moment. We go through our actions or lack of actions and try to figure out what we could have done differently. Case in point, the federal government and research universities are questioning whether huge experimental plugs could've prevented subway tunnels from flooding.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the 32-by-16-foot inflatable plug prototype to thwart terrorist attacks in the underground tunnels. It inflates like a ballon, and if it were used in a flooding event, it would keep up to 35,000 gallons of water from getting in and over-taking the pumps.
It's important to note that these plugs are just prototypes and according to DHS project manager John Fortune, were no where near ready for implementation. He told CNN, "This is an experimental prototype. This is something that is probably two years away or so from real-world applications."
However in that same article, researchers from two different universities involved in the project, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and West Virginia University, felt differently. They said that if research had moved along at a faster pace, the plugs could've made a big difference.
Getting into the specifics of what could've been done against what was done isn't important right now. What's important is dealing with the situation at hand. At the same time, learning from past missteps does create an opportunity to do better when the next disaster occurs.
Credit: E.M.Sosa, WVU/Department of Homeland Security