Home owners and builders may have given a thought of thanks to their building officials this week after seeing the earthquake disaster in Haiti.
Although ridged concrete and brick structures often do poorly in earthquakes the lack of building standards along with cuts in design standards due to corruption are being blamed on elevating an already bad situation.
Earthquakes are measured not only by seismic sensors but also by the damage they cause. In Haiti many structures that should have withstood the quake that was measured between 6 and 7 on the Richter scale were totally destroyed.
Many buildings that were recently built by the Haitian Government and international organizations were found completely destroyed while other older buildings that should have had the same or worse damage were left standing.
The reason that newer buildings collapsed was due to the materials used in the concrete walls and supporting columns. Rebar reinforcement steel was either improperly installed, insufficient or missing. If this was the case then it is easy to assume that the concrete mix was less then that required using improper aggregate and cement to reach the designed PSI rating.
On the outlaying areas of Port au Prince buildings were made of wood framing or a mixture of concrete and wood framing which allowed them to remain standing.
Even buildings within the quake zone that were historic in age did not see complete devastation this points to design standards in newer buildings being the culprit.
Concrete is used in the Caribbean to withstand the winds of hurricanes storms and because earthquakes are not a common occurrence builders believed they would be save by cutting corners.
How Much Will It Cost?
An international group met in Montreal this week and approximated the rebuilding of the city at 3 Billion dollars which is relatively low considering the number of people that live there.
Until rebuilding is completed the approximate 250,000 people that survived the quake are being moved to temporary shelter outside the city.
The ten years required to rebuild is expected to come with some hardship when hurricane season begins.