Trash Talk Lecture: "Tornadoes, Twin Towers, and Hurricanes: 20 Years of Urban Disaster Clean-up"

Cambridge, March 19, 2012 - Roughly every five years since 1992, the United States has experienced major urban destruction, both natural and man-made. Even before the shock has passed, dealing with trash and rubble is a critical part of post-disaster response. How do cities clean up?

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University presents the free lecture "Tornadoes, Twin Towers, and Hurricanes: 20 Years of Urban Disaster Clean-Up" on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at the Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St., Cambridge) at 6:00 PM. A reception will follow at the Peabody Museum (11 Divinity Avenue).

This lecture explores how cities have managed urban waste streams following man-made and natural disasters over the past two decades. Speakers Ben R. Turner and Patrick McMullen have a unique perspective; they’ve been hired to manage the resulting debris at several major disaster sites in the US over the past 25 years. They will discuss the evolution and challenges of urban disaster debris management in the United States.

Miami was the largest metropolitan area to withstand the ill effects of a land-falling, Category 5 hurricane in modern times (Hurricane Andrew, 1992). More urban destruction followed with the destruction of Raleigh, North Carolina in 1996 (Hurricane Fran), the urban terrorist attack of 9/11/2001 on New York’s World Trade Center, the flood-borne devastation of New Orleans in 2005 (Hurricane Katrina), and the 2011 tornados that ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri.

Every disaster event creates unique debris management challenges. By drawing on knowledge gained from past experience and using—or developing from scratch—new technologies and techniques, modern debris stream management is an evolving process, improving with each iteration.

Ben R. Turner is President of Phillips and Jordan, Inc., and Patrick McMullen is Executive Vice President, CFO, & Treasurer.

The final event in the Trash Talk: The Anthropology of Waste series is on Saturday, May 19, "Transforming Trash to Treasure: Cleaning Artifacts from Harvard Yard," where families can learn what trash reveals about the past.

About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $6 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

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Media Contact:

Faith Sutter
Communications Coordinator
Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397


World Trade Center, 2001. Photo by Ben Turner.

High resolution image available on request.

"Tornadoes, Twin Towers, and Hurricanes: 20 Years of Urban Disaster Clean-up," part of the Peabody Museum Trash Talk series, is Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge.

Ben R. Turner, President of Phillips and Jordan, Inc.

Patrick McMullen, Executive Vice President, CFO, & Treasurer of Phillips and Jordan, Inc.

A public reception follows at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge.

Public information: 617-496-1027