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DOE Announces Three Projects to Help the Gulf Coast Recover and Rebuild

January 20, 2006 - 10:52am

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ROBINSONVILLE, MS - Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman today announced three Department of Energy (DOE) initiatives to help the people in the Gulf coast region recover from the hurricanes in 2005, as well as prevent loss of life and damage in the future. During his speech to the Energy Leadership Forum, the secretary announced that DOE will donate 400,000 hours of supercomputing time at its National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist with the rebuilding of levees. DOE is also offering hurricane-affected residents free rebuilding workshops providing expert advice on the latest energy-efficient products and techniques, in addition to donating approximately 200 pieces of used furniture to a Louisiana school.

"The Department of Energy is so much more than gasoline and coal, we're Americans who saw our neighbors devastated by the hurricanes - and we're finding ways to help," Secretary Bodman said. "In addition to strengthening our nation's energy infrastructure and improving our department's response to natural disasters, our goal is to help those affected in every way that we can."

The DOE Office of Science has allocated 400,000 processor hours of supercomputing time at NERSC at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, California, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This will allow the Corps to run hurricane simulations to help model hurricane-induced storm surge elevations so coastal levees can be strengthened and offer more protection to low-lying areas.

"We're proud to lend our resources to help strengthen the levees that will protect the people of the Gulf region," Director of DOE's Office of Science Dr. Ray Orbach said. "Secretary Bodman has directed us to do whatever we can to help, and we are committed to doing just that."

Running the 400,000 supercomputer hours of simulations on a single-processor personal computer would take about 46 years. But by tapping NERSC's supercomputers, which include a 6,080-processor IBM supercomputer, an 888-processor IBM cluster computer and a 640-processor Linux Networx cluster, the simulations are expected to be completed within a month.

Also, Secretary Bodman announced that DOE, in partnership with Entergy New Orleans, The Home Depot, and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), is offering free home repair workshops in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, as residents begin to repair and rebuild. Specifically, workshop attendees will receive hands-on instruction on how to improve home energy efficiency and durability when repairing storm-damaged roofs, ceilings, walls and floors, and when installing windows, doors and hurricane shutters. In effort to help homeowners make use of their training right away, The Home Depot is donating discount coupons worth ten percent off customers' purchases and will give away gift cards valued at up to $1000 to workshop participants. For more details, please visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/.

In addition, Secretary Bodman announced that, in accordance with a Department of Education initiative to help re-supply schools affected by the hurricanes, DOE will donate 200 pieces of furniture to Belle Chasse High School in Belle Chasse, LA. This includes desks, bookcases, credenzas and filing cabinets. Each piece of furniture has been approved for donation by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Education. The school is about ten miles from downtown New Orleans and only three blocks from the Mississippi River.

Secretary Bodman made these announcements while giving the keynote address at the Energy Leadership Forum in Robinsonville, MS. The Forum brought together local energy utility representatives, government officials, and other key players in the hurricane recovery effort. During the two-day forum, participants discussed disaster response, lessons learned from the hurricanes of 2005, and how best to strengthen America's energy infrastructure.

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, 202/586-4940

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