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#193671 - 01/16/10 04:12 PM Question for the mods
TeacherRO Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2574
Is "lessons learned from Haiti" an appropriate topic here?

#193686 - 01/16/10 08:04 PM Re: Question for the mods [Re: TeacherRO]
Tarzan Offline

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 146
Loc: Washington
I don't know what lessons can be learned for Haitians. When disaster strikes an area of such abject poverty that even those who would like to be prepared have neither the means or the ability to do anything about it, it is indeed a desperate thing.
I feel sorry for the poor folks who don't and never had, a chance. I won't go into the politics of it...
I guess the one thing we can take away is if this type of disaster were to hit a large population center in the US, similar situations would ensue. It should be a wake up call to all of us that maintaining some level of foodstuffs and water would be adviseable. The whole 72 hours is way too optimistic. I would guess it would take that long to really mount an effective disaster relief effort of any magnitude. I would say 14-30 days preparations are probably more in line with reality. Additionally, I would probably bump that up a bit because I would have pity on friends and neighbors not so far-sighted and make an effort to help them if I could. But that opens up a whole new can of worms and philosophical debate as well.

#193693 - 01/16/10 09:44 PM Re: Question for the mods [Re: TeacherRO]
Roarmeister Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/01
Posts: 960
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
just a start...

1. Design buildings with more safety features like structural cores and the ability to sway/move without breaking and collapsing during earthquakes especially priority 1 buildings like hospitals and refuge centres.
2. Reinforce the buildings with steel and properly cured concrete.
3. Equip structures with caches of supplies/equipment to assist after a disaster.

Not surprisingly, it was the foreign embassies with their higher construction standards that have stood up the best from the quake.

Hopefully when they rebuild (practically everything!) with the assistance of foreign aid that they will build more intelligently like they are doing in New Orleans.

#193694 - 01/16/10 10:06 PM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: TeacherRO]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3760
Loc: TX
Yes, I was considering start just such a thread.

To start it off:

Lesson 1. Even when help reaches the outskirts, it may be days before it makes it to you.

Lesson 2. Moving help is easy. Moving it to where it actually needs to be is can be very hard.

Lesson 3. Your neighbors are the most likely people to pull you from the rubble before you die, so be nice to them.


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#193696 - 01/16/10 10:19 PM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Blast]
Alex Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 1034
Loc: -
Lesson 4. Have a working radio at hands, so you know what's really going on and what's not.

#193701 - 01/17/10 12:41 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Alex]
leemann Offline
Soylent Green

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 623
Loc: At the soylent green plant.
Agreed, be prepared too.

It's the year 2022...People are still the same
They'll do anything to get what they need.
And they need Soylent Green.

#193702 - 01/17/10 12:45 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: leemann]
Eric Offline

Registered: 09/09/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Iowa
Lesson 5. Creating order from chaos is hard, even when you are trained and prepared.

- Eric
You are never beaten until you admit it. - - General George S. Patton

#193704 - 01/17/10 12:58 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Eric]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7705
Loc: southern Cal
There was a memorable quote on NPR today from the US general at the airport. He said the logistical problem "was like putting a bowling ball through a soda straw."

Living in earthquake country myself, there are obvious lessons. Appropriate building codes and a reinforced infrastructure are good investments and will pay off, as will development of competent civil authority.

Pay attention to your own dwelling place - water heater strapped down, walls firmly bolted to the foundation, supplies laid by.

By the way, wood frame construction, built to code, is the most resistant earthquake type. The Northridge quake exposed some deficiencies in recent concrete construction. Stay away from unreinforced masonry structures, far,far away!
Geezer in Chief

#193705 - 01/17/10 01:18 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: hikermor]
James_Van_Artsdalen Offline

Registered: 09/13/07
Posts: 449
Loc: Texas
I keep *two* caches of 30-day lifeboat rations in the house, one at each side of the house. The idea is that if something knocks down the house I might be able to still retrieve one or the other. There's also a week's worth in the car / garage. The car also has a bivvy sack in the winter - emergency shelter.

In earthquake country it might be worth putting a dog house in the back yard away from the house, and putting one set of lifeboat rations in it in a sealed metal box.

(think "small shed" except that I don't think people often break into a dog house to steal things)

#193706 - 01/17/10 02:04 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: hikermor]
Art_in_FL Offline

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
IMHO the first lesson is that strong building codes written with a critical eye toward the hazards of an area and firmly enforced saves lives. Immediately after a disaster undamaged buildings that can be trusted are extremely valuable resources. The difference between 10% and 90% of buildings down is tremendous.

Second, weather makes a difference. One saving grace of the Haitian location is that it is not freezing cold or burning hot. Imagine how much worse it would be if it was below freezing at night. Fortunately, so far, storms are not an issue. Imagine if a hurricane came through 24 hours after the earthquake.

Third, sturdy, well built infrastructure like water, sewers, roads, airports make a difference. Haiti doesn't have any of these and is suffering more because of it.

Fourth, extreme poverty makes everything worse. People who are living close to the edge have a short way to fall before they fall off and perish.

Individuals, other than generally lobbying for strong building codes, infrastructure and actions that help take the rough edges off poverty, cannot do much to change any of the above. But one might imagine what this disaster might have looked like if even a third of the people had even a minimal three-day kit with a couple of cans of beans for food, a few liters of water to drink, and a couple of bandannas that might be pressed into service as bandages. They would not be a total solution but they might have served to take the ragged edge off the suffering as more definitive relief was organized. A little available now can mean a lot to those who have nothing.

So take heart and prepare as best you can when and where you can. If all you can manage is a bottle of water and a can of beans then do that. If you can manage more so much the better. Just because you can't afford to spend thousands of dollars laying in huge amounts of equipment and supplies doesn't mean you can't make a real difference if and when disaster visits.

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