Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Earthquake Damage Overview

Here in the department of Lempira, most of the damage from the recent earthquake is in an area known as La Iguala. If Lempira is like a state, then La Iguala is like a county. Within La Iguala, most damage occured in the village of Tablones.

According to our investigation yesterday, in the area of La Iguala there are approximately 49 houses which are so damaged that they will have to be completely torn down (these numbers can only go up, but that is why I am saying they are approximate). An additional 200 houses are seriously damaged, but we believe they can be repaired.

Our hope is that we can be involved in the reconstruction process, and help the homeowners improve the quality of the new construction, so that the houses will be stronger, and more likely to stand up in future earthquakes.

Allen's goal is to raise the money to purchase cement and rebar, to distribute to those who are completely rebuilding. Building an adobe brick building directly on the ground is not a strong solution, and building an all-cement or cinderblock house is prohibitively expensive (wood houses don't work here because of the existence of a very hungry termite population). By starting out a new house with a concrete and rebar foundation, the house will have a much better chance of "holding together" when shaken. In addition, Allen is recommending that the houses have another band of concrete, at the tops of the exterior walls, for the same reason.

Here's an example from our personal construction site - even with a building made of cinderblock, the strength is much greater with the cement band atop the walls.

The people in the affected communities have already started the process of clearing the rubble, removing the clay roof tiles (as these can be reused in the new house), and knocking down the buildings which cannot be salvaged. If we are to get stronger foundations under the new houses, we must become involved without delay. Allen is talking with several organizations and private donors, and hopes to have some funds to help with this quickly.

While gathering info yesterday, Allen and Alan also distributed blankets to most of the children, and passed out food to the families affected by the earthquake. We have already distributed a quantity of food that would cook up into 26,000 children's size meals.


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