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#193765 - 01/18/10 12:26 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: bws48]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
I suspect that one of the biggest obstacles to getting supplies out is the typical rich-western demand for near absolute safety against an imagined violent threat that is being overestimated. A vicious cycle of delay that is making the risk higher than it might otherwise be.

Higher security demands mean more trucks are needed, it takes more time to organize, and it delivers less per trip. Pictures of forty armed troops protecting twenty relief workers and three trucks transporting one truckload of supplies was a perfect illustration. Ironically the delays also mean that people are ever more angry and frustrated. Unrealistic estimates of risk are often self-fulfilling prophecies because every delay further jacks up the risk. Which then justifies further delay. I hope they don't get involved in this spiral but it wouldn't surprise me.

IMHO too many American relief specialists, most I have met, are romantic idealists who are too frightened by minor confrontations and loss of control to take the risks necessary to avoid it. Haitians are, on average, much more tolerant and less prone to violence than your average American but there are limits.

Also don't underestimate a three day supply. A normal three day supply can be stretched to six if need be. Most kits figure 1200 calories or more per person per day. Whereas 400 calories a day is closer to actual minimum.

Pronouncements that 30 days is the "minimum" means your lowering the numbers of people who will have anything at all. Except for the very richest Haitians, who are more likely to have other resources, nobody would be able to afford stocking up 30 days supply. While even the poorest Americans typically have more resources than most Haitians a lot of them can't afford to stock up a 30 day supply.


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#193768 - 01/18/10 12:39 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Tarzan]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7342
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: Tarzan
In the event of a catastrophic earthquake, the region affected would, for all intents and purposes, become an island. If the LA region got hit with the big one, the bridges, both car and railroad, would be damaged or destroyed.


One of the consequences of the Northridge quake was upgrading the standards for bridges and overpasses. For a couple of years following the event, there was substantial retrofitting of these structures. I believe they can now withstand a magnitude 8 event. Larger quakes have been recorded in California, but the probability is quite low. There will certainly be problems, but there should not be massive destruction on the scale we are witnessing in Haiti.

I have sent off a contribution to the ARC. I hope we all do at something nominal to assist.
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#193778 - 01/18/10 04:31 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Art_in_FL]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
"...the biggest obstacles to getting supplies out is the ... demand for near absolute safety against an imagined violent threat that is being overestimated."

That's what happened after Katrina, and I would bet money that that is what is happening in Haiti now. Pay attention to the news: all the media is pushing the violence. There may be some, but I'll bet most of the people are just incredibly grateful to get a bottle of water.

Sue

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#193781 - 01/18/10 04:47 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: hikermor]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
"For a couple of years following the event, there was substantial retrofitting of these structures."

I am not doubting the facts, but I do tend to doubt the conclusions. The original overpasses were made from steel and concrete -- what did they add to improve them? How many of the contractors who did the work would be willing to stand under them in a decent quake? What's the immediate plan if all the overpasses remain standing and the roads under them shift 18" up or down in many places?

In Seattle, they 'retrofitted' the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Everyone (probably including the companies that did the retrofitting) are pretty sure that in a good quake, it's going to be the first thing to fall.

Earthquakes have incredible power. Modern Man has come up with a bunch of ideas that may or may not work. When I point out all the skyscrapers that appear to consist mainly of windows, I am assured that they have all been designed to withstand earthquakes. But please explain to me how a sheet of glass 10'x10', twisted diagonally twelve inches, won't break.

In Japan, I read that steel and concrete buildings broke apart. Do you know what flexed and stayed upright? The bamboo scaffolding they were using to build the buildings.

But I will bet that if/when a major quake hits San Diego, LA, Sacramento, San Jose, Portland or Seattle, most of those buildings will twist, and the death toll may well surpass Haiti's.

"Complacency Kills" - how's that for a bumper sticker?

Sue

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#193784 - 01/18/10 05:10 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Susan]
Tarzan Offline
Member

Registered: 02/02/08
Posts: 146
Loc: Washington
ArtInFL, I was referring to what we in the US can learn. In a country like Haiti, they are pretty much screwed. When the average worker earns two bucks a day, it's kind of hard to put back too much in the way of supplies.
But in this country, if each of us on here put in a month or two's worth of food and water, that is that much less the disaster relief people have to cart in to take care of folks.
There are two things going on at once in Haiti, rescue and relief. The rescue workers need to get their job done quickly, it is almost a week now and that is a long time to go without water, trapped under debris, in a tropical heat.
The relief workers have to distribute food, water, shelter, clothing and medicine to where it is needed. A tough order in the current circumstance.


Edited by Tarzan (01/18/10 05:12 AM)

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#193785 - 01/18/10 06:58 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: hikermor]
LED Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
I'm thinking one of the biggest problems will be all the ruptured gas lines and fires. Of course water mains will be broken too so we'd be kinda screwed, doubly so if it happened during peak dry season. Lucky its only 9 months out of the year. whistle

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#193787 - 01/18/10 10:01 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: hikermor]
EMPnotImplyNuclear Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 09/10/08
Posts: 374
I think superadobe trumps wood smile esp for Haiti since they have deforestation. It works for emergency shelter, can convert it into permanent housing, and its dirt cheap smile


http://calearth.org/building-designs/emergency-sandbag-shelter.html
http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/emergency-earthbag-shelter-proposal/


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#193789 - 01/18/10 01:13 PM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Susan]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7342
Loc: southern Cal
There are earthquakes and then there are earthquakes. The energy they release varies enormously and, yes, it is possible to experience an earthquake that is going to break just about anything - something on the order of a magnitude 9 + (which occurred in Alaska in 1964). If we get one of those, well, I have lived a long, useful, and productive life - no regrets. Those quakes are beyond the scope of nearly all building codes.

But most quakes are of lesser magnitude and can be resisted relatively effectively. It is no accident that wood frame construction is standard in Southern California. Properly done, it resists shaking very effectively. One of the key items is to insure that the house is properly tied to its foundation, an issue with older dwellings. Of course wood is flammable, and follow on fires resulting from broken gas mains, etc. are a real potential. All I can say is that right now I know where my gas shut off key is located (right next to my fire tools) - I am not as sure about my car keys. There are also automatic gas line shutoffs, but their utility is debatable.

I don't know anything at all about earthquake measures taken for high rise construction, but the ones we have seem to do OK up to about magnitude 6.5 or so. I suspect that the glass in those things have various coatings that might allow them to resist the twisting of a quake.

While southern California is not earthquake proof, it is in better shape that many other susceptible places. Earthquakes of similar energy routinely cause much higher death tolls in other regions. Infrastructure does make a difference, as does a relatively well educated and trained population.

Still, the LA Times had a recent piece pointing out that the region has fallen behind in earthquake preps. I look at Haiti and think "We're next...."

Right now we are bracing for mudflows and landslides from the areas recently burned, as heavy rains visit us. If it ain't one thing, it's another.
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#193879 - 01/19/10 05:11 AM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Tarzan]
Art_in_FL Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/01/07
Posts: 2432
Originally Posted By: Tarzan
ArtInFL, But in this country, if each of us on here put in a month or two's worth of food and water, that is that much less the disaster relief people have to cart in to take care of folks.
There are two things going on at once in Haiti, rescue and relief. The rescue workers need to get their job done quickly, it is almost a week now and that is a long time to go without water, trapped under debris, in a tropical heat.
The relief workers have to distribute food, water, shelter, clothing and medicine to where it is needed. A tough order in the current circumstance.


First, not everyone, possibly not even a majority of people even in the US, can necessarily afford to set aside the price of a months supplies for the family. Many families are two paychecks away from living in their car. They are entirely too busy keeping a roof over their head and food on the table to spend much time worrying about hypothetical situations. I know and have worked with people whose entire discretionary budget for their family, assuming nothing goes wrong, was ten dollars a week.

That doesn't mean some level of preparedness isn't possible. A few dollars a week can be built into a substantial supply. At least it might if people don't get discouraged and give up before they get a start.

The three-day standard was selected to be a small enough step to be reasonably easy to accomplish with limited means but large enough to make a significant difference in the majority of situations in the US.

In my opinion, based on what I see in various reports, the distribution of supplies is being hampered by a desire to control the situation too much. They are handing out rations very slowly to thin lines of people when they should, IMHO, be taking their clue from feeding chickens instead of running a soup kitchen. We should be shoveling individual foil wrapped water packets and lifeboat biscuits out of the back of helicopters and trucks with feed scoops. The actual form of the relief is not important as long as they come in durable packages and a small number of servings. Single-serving size would be ideal.

Find people and spread supplies while moving. No stopping. No demand for anyone to line up. Wash, rinse, repeat until nearly everyone has received something. If the vast majority of people can get a little to eat and enough moisture in them so they aren't in danger of falling down your going to calm everything down considerably.

Take the edge off and then set up the more organized systems with lines and controls.




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#193937 - 01/19/10 11:06 PM Re: Question for the mods: Lessons from Haiti [Re: Art_in_FL]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3593
Loc: TX
Another lesson: toothpaste smeared under the nose helps cover the smell of dead people...a little.
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