Harnessing existing and new professional networks for earthquake relief
It is imperative to design buildings to protect life, first and foremost. However, we must also design to protect property, so we’re not forced to rebuild after major event shocks. In recent years, we’ve been reminded of this imperative almost monthly. On January 6, 2020, the southern part of Puerto Rico woke up to a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that shook the entire island. The tremors began in December with a magnitude 5.0 earthquake, which at the time felt like a warning. Throughout January, after shocks have continued to cause fragile buildings to collapse. Despite the catastrophic impact on lives, property, infrastructure, and economic disruption–not to mention the emotional toll–civilians and nongovernmental organizations continue to rise, providing much needed support.
After Hurricane Maria made landfall in September 2017, networks of multidisciplinary professionals from all over the globe, including diaspora communities, academic institutions, private sector, and nonprofit organizations, learned to organize themselves and collaborate to provide relief. These collaborations led to a groundswell of activities, all requiring strong partnerships to avoid redundancy and to achieve more impactful outcomes. ResilientSEE-PR was one of those initiatives that sprung from the humanitarian crisis need in Puerto Rico. Our hurricane relief efforts focused on mid- to long-term strategies. Today, we continue those commitments with a renewed focus on earthquake relief. We are harnessing the networks developed in the last couple of years to be intentional about all stages of relief, design, and reconstruction.