Saturday, May 22, 2010

Haiti's Rebuilding: and Doing It Right

"Haiti trying to avoid past mistakes as rebuilding begins"
CNN (May 21, 2010)

"At the Iron Market, Haitians shopped for everything from vegetables to Voodoo flags. One side was destroyed in a 2008 fire. The January 12 earthquake leveled the rest.

"By year's end, workers hope to restore the Port-au-Prince landmark to its original splendor.

"Destined for Egypt in 1889, the market's French-built minarets became Haiti's when the sale to a Cairo train station fell through and President Florvil Hyppolite bought the massive cast iron structures as part of his plan to modernize the city...."

"...It's inspiring to see the historical structure rise again amid the rubble, Gay said. But even more, the Iron Market restoration provides hope to those who live and work in its shadow -- especially because everyone knows Haiti's rebuilding process is sure to be slow.

"By some estimates, it will take three to five years just to clear the rubble and debris still on the streets of Port-au-Prince. There is so much damage and destruction, so few trucks and places to dispose of the mangled steel and concrete and the piles of crushed furniture and personal possessions...."

One of the reasons that so many of Haiti's buildings collapsed is that they were built on the cheap - smooth rebar, not ridged the way we have it here in America, and not much of that. Calcium carbonate in the concrete - and concrete made with too much water (cutting costs again) - didn't help buildings stand up, either.

This time around, it looks like Haiti's government is going to inspect buildings as they're being built. I'm no fan of regulation: but there are enough bean-counting nitwits around to make me think that building codes make sense - in principle.

Bottom line? It looks like the survivors in Haiti realize that they really don't want to go on with 'business as usual' as they rebuild their country.

Aid agencies are putting up semi-permanent houses for folks who don't have a roof for the rainy season. These buildings aren't subject to building code - but that doesn't upset me all that much. Small, lightweight, structures seem to weather earthquakes fairly well. It's those concrete, glass and steel high rises with crumbly concrete and breakaway rebars that are a problem.


A list of charities you've probably heard about already, with links and some contact information: Also a list of posts in this, and two other blogs, about Haiti.

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