Wednesday, February 24, 2010

1000 trucks per day for 1000 days

The final death toll could well exceed 300,000.  this will make this disaster the largest in modern history.  These two reports get a measure of the work needed to restore urban life here.  In fact it mostly establishes what is needed to allow rebuilding to begin.

The only things that begins to compare is the devastation wrought on Germany in particular during the second world war.

We now have boots on the ground to maintain order and obviously a food economy has been established, so yes things are getting better.

No one is really thinking about building yet, simply because the first task will be rubbish removal.  And this makes it clear that the trucks will be running around the clock for a couple of years.  It also makes it apparent that most folks will be living in tent cities for at least as long.

One huge lesson here that needs to be clearly understood is that this death toll was the result of building concrete structures without proper rebar and earth quake design.  It will be madness to repeat the experience.  After all, California has ridden through a similar quake with negligible loss of life.  It is possible and certainly should be built for when using concrete.

The second huge lesson is that building as much as possible with wood frame construction using wood treated to suppress termites is a good replacement for much of this lost housing.  These buildings are not necessarily any better except that they are lighter and also take time to tear apart so long as post and pillar is avoided.  This gives occupants escape time.

The third lesson is to ask who else is this vulnerable.  Haiti is hardly the worst target city and it has the small advantage of local rich neighbors who could get in there.  Most other potential disaster cities are not this lucky.  All major cities need to adopt California style building codes, it not all urban areas.

Most of the earth is largely immune to earth quakes, but no given locale is one hundred percent immune.  In the USA, the Eastern seaboard is certainly not immune however unlikely.  It is just not impossible.

I would personally like to see the advent of proper stress skin panels using polyurethane foam as the binding agent and treated wood as the strength component.  This makes structures fifty percent lighter than wood frame and naturally twice as strong at least.  Such will largely survive the strongest known quakes.  This could be done while meeting modern price points once mass production is established.  It is possible, but needs a top down initiative at the political level.

Stress skin panels are formed using cut stock and OSB panels held together under pressure with polyurethane foam injected under pressure to bind everything together.  For the tropics, simple binders could also possibly be used with more cut stock.  The key is continuous binding.

Does anyone believe that the politicians will force such a solution?  Anyone can figure out who to bribe to get their obsolete building methods grandfathered in.

Haiti's rubble will fill 1,000 trucks a day, for over 1,000 days

by Staff Writers

Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Feb 22, 2010

The team included women in skirts shoveling for all it's worth, but it barely made a dent in the mountain of debris that was once a shopping center in 
Haiti'squake-devastated capital.

While it may not seem so, judging from the absence of heavy equipment at the site, removing rubble is an urgent matter, and not only because of the many bodies still trapped under buildings in ruin throughout Port-au-Prince.

Massive mounds of rubble are blocking drains and canals that are crucial in preventing floods when the heavy rains begin around May. Those made homeless by the quake who live in low-lying camps face more catastrophe if flooding occurs.

On top of that, potential new camp sites for the homeless need to be cleared of debris to relocate thousands of people now crammed in overcrowded, makeshift settlements.

Aid officials say clearing all the rubble from the quake will fill 1,000 trucks a day for more than 1,000 days. So why bother with shoveling?

"It's just to help the unemployed," said Robert Jean Louis, site supervisor where a cinema, pharmacy and grocery store once stood.

The goal is a worthy one, with so many people out of work in this impoverished country, and Louis said the shovelers, who earn five dollars a day, were only the initial phase of a plan that will later bring in heavy equipment.

It was unclear if aid officials have designated his site a priority, though it does contain some very large drains.

But asked when the heavy equipment would arrive, Louis thought for a moment, then said, "not yet."
"Maybe in one month," said the head of the digging team hired by aid group CHF International. "Could be longer, could be less."

Rubble removal is another indication of the catastrophe's daunting scale. Other urgent tasks include food and shelter distribution, as well as improving living conditions in the squalid camps that are home to more than a million people.

On top of that, Haiti's badly crippled government faces a lack of heavy equipment to clear the rubble left by the 7.0-magnitude quake that killed more than 217,000 people.

US Colonel Gregory Kane said Monday he believed there were now enough trucks in the country and in the neighboring Dominican Republic to handle the job.

Kane said drains and canals will have to be unblocked quickly because of the coming rains.

"That will overwhelm the storm water mitigation system that they've got in Port-au-Prince if the rubble is not cleared out," he said.

And up to 19 camps housing tens of thousands of people in and around Port-au-Prince are considered to be in low-lying areas, he said.

Canadian Deputy Commanding General Nicolas Matern of the Haiti Joint Task Force said because the demand for shelter is so urgent ahead of the rains, rubble removal will focus on what is needed for the camps.

That includes clearing space to create new settlements to ease overcrowded sites that are becoming a health risk, he said.

Matern said the quake created between 20 and 25 million cubic yards (meters) of rubble.

"Enough to fill five Superdomes," he said, referring to the US stadium in New Orleans that housed thousands of people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"Or put in other terms, 1,000 trucks (a day) for 1,000 days," he said.

"What we're doing to support the shelter initiative is we're focusing our rubble removal in the immediate zero to three months on the settlements, as opposed to trying to do everything at once," he added.

At the site of the crumbled shopping center, the workers picked away, wearing masks to keep from breathing in the clouds of cement dust and the rancid smells emanating from the pile.

Workers there said they were glad to be working despite the low pay. Louis, the supervisor, said it was only the beginning.

"We have several sites to clear out," he said. "Overall, what is needed is to clear the canal to allow water to drain."

Earthquake Engineers Release Report On Damage In Haiti

by Staff Writers

Seattle WA (SPX) Feb 23, 2010

A five-person team sent to evaluate damage from the devastating magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 found no surface evidence of the fault that might have caused the quake, but installed four instruments to measure aftershocks and help pinpoint the

University of Washington civil and environmental engineering professor Marc Eberhard led the team that provided engineering support to the United States Southern Command, responsible for all U.S. military activities in South and Central America.

Eberhard is lead author on a report released late last week to the national Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the United States Geological Survey, both of which sponsored the trip. The report is posted here.

A main conclusion is that much of the loss of human life could have been prevented by using earthquake-resistant designs and construction, as well as improved quality control in concrete and masonry work. The authors recommend that simple and cost-effective earthquake engineering be emphasized in Haiti's rebuilding effort.

The group also gathered more seismic data. Assessing an earthquake's magnitude can be done from afar, Eberhard said, but establishing the location requires several stations fairly close to the earthquake's center. Such monitoring stations were not present in Haiti. Knowing the location will help understand what caused the earthquake and forecast the likelihood of future quakes in the area, he said.
The team provided a ground assessment of places that were worst hit, including the port in Port-au-Prince, the cathedral, the National Palace, the Hotel Montana and the Union School, attended by children of many nationalities. They photographed damage in smaller towns and assessed the safety of hospitals, schools, bridges and other critical facilities.

A survey of 107 buildings in a heavily damaged part of downtown Port-au-Prince found that 28 percent had collapsed and a third would require repairs. A survey of 52 buildings in nearby Leogane found that more than 90 percent had either collapsed or will require repairs.

"A lot of the damaged structures will have to be destroyed," Eberhard commented. "It's not just 100 buildings or 1,000 buildings. It's a huge number of buildings, which I can't even estimate."

Many people asked team members to inspect buildings where the occupants were camped outside because they feared a collapse.

"There's an enormous amount of fear," Eberhard said. "People may see cracks in their houses. A large part of what we were doing was identifying what was serious damage versus what was cosmetic damage."

"Probably the most satisfying thing we did was to walk through the building and get people back inside."

Eberhard traveled into Port-au-Prince on a military airplane on Jan. 26. He and other team members camped in front of the U.S. embassy during the weeklong trip.

The group kept a blog of the trip at Eberhard says he omitted some of the most disturbing images because members of his daughter's second-grade class were reading the posts.

This is not the first such assignment for Eberhard, who did reconnaissance after major earthquakes in CaliforniaSeattle, Taiwan and Costa Rica. But he says this was the most difficult on a personal level.
"Usually when I go to earthquakes I find that the amount of damage is less than what appears on the television," Eberhard said. "In this case it was much more."

"The main reason for the difference is that usually when you see earthquake coverage the cameras will focus on one place that's really damaged, and you don't realize that around it there are plenty of things that are just fine. In this case, the cameras focused on one place that's really damaged, but because the cameras have a limited field of view you don't realize that the cameras could be panned 360 degrees and you would see the same thing."

The poverty of the people combined with the density of population and lack of building codes resulted in the widespread devastation, he said.

A follow-up team of engineers is scheduled to travel to Haiti on Feb. 28.

The engineering community, working with the United Nations and United States Agency for International Development, is assessing the next steps, including translating into French and Creole documents that explain in simple words and pictures how to rebuild structures that will be earthquake resistant.

Other members of the reconnaissance mission were Steven Baldridge, a structural engineer at Baldridge and Associates in Honolulu; Justin Marshall, a structural engineering professor at Auburn University in Alabama; Walter Mooney, a seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in California; and Glenn Rix, a geotechnical engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the Geo-engineering Extreme Events Reconnaissance, the Applied Technology

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