Convention centers as staging grounds for disaster recovery: Lessons learned from 911 and Katrina

Marvin J. Cetron, Frederick J. Demicco, Robert R. Nelson, Warren L. Reuther, John A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the United States, three convention centers have recently found themselves in roles that they were not designed to fulfill- that of staging grounds for disaster recovery. In the case of the attacks on the World Trade Towers, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center served as a makeshift morgue and a staging area for recovery personnel. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, people flocked to New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center when breached levees and flooding left thousands homeless. Many of these evacuees from New Orleans were transported to Houston where they were temporarily housed at the George R. Brown Convention Center. In the future it is likely other convention centers will find themselves in similar situations, yet few of these facilities are prepared to serve as centers for disaster recovery. This paper suggests specific strategies convention center managers, along with their local coordinators of homeland security, should employ to prepare for the eventuality of natural and manmade disasters. It also considers amenities that should be built into convention centers so they are better prepared to serve in times of disaster. These efforts will be expensive and require expertise that is beyond the experience of most convention managers. As such these preparations will require coordination and funding at the state and federal levels. doi:10.1300/ J452v08n04_09

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Convention and Event Tourism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 31 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Convention centers
  • Disaster recovery
  • Homeland security
  • Hurricanes
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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