As I work to prepare for El Salvador and my role as AIA Disaster Assistance Coordinator for the state of WI, there are lessons to be learned from Hurricane Sandy. I remain in touch with AIA contacts in Washington DC and New Jersey. Below is an update on the slow, but steady progress made in New Jersey.
A little more than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, the focus is still on emergency response.
The 3 stages of disaster response are as follows:
1. Emergency: The first response, it relies on quick action and involves providing emergency shelter, medical assistance, food, and other such services. This stage can last two to three weeks
2. Relief: Short-term housing, health services, and employment counseling are provided. Formal assessment of damage begins with examinations of buildings, including analysis of historic properties and other structures. This stage may last up to six months.
3. recovery: up to and beyond 3 yrs +This stage is characterized by rebuilding, with an emphasis on long-term comprehensive planning to enhance the physical fabric of the community. Regulatory changes may be necessary to mitigate the effect of future disasters. This period may last three years or more.
As we work toward relief and recovery, AIA architects in New Jersey remain closely involved in the efforts. A letter below from Cooper Martin, AIA National, shares that most building damage assessments have been completed, but that the future focus will be not only on rebuilding, but also making sure that a better infrastructure is in place should there be another disaster.
Subject: RE: AIA and the California Safety Assessment Program – New Jersey
Our assessments have been completed where we were allowed to help conduct them, and right now I think we have more local volunteers than we know what to do with. Most of our current activities are roundtable discussions such as this: http://cfa.aiany.org/index.php?section=calendar&evtid=5176
If you haven’t seen it already, there was a good story on the obstacles we experienced in our aid efforts at: http://archrecord.construction.com/news/2012/11/121108-Architects-Respond-to-a-Call-for-Post-Sandy-Aid.asp#.UJ1G9pFP4wQ.mailto
Our next step will actually be to organize a couple of training sessions and to prepare to lobby the state legislature to pass Good Samaritan law for the next disaster. Our partners at Arch. for Humanity are assessing needs and identifying gaps in the recovery activities that federal funding will support.
Manager, Community Resilience
The American Institute of Architects
I’m so grateful for people like you who have the skills, focus, and heart to respond to disasters that leave people without shelter. So proud of you, my friend!