Though Hurricane Sandy made most of the headlines as it unleashed its wrath on the U.S. east coast, it left plenty of casualties and damage on its way there. Now comes the hard part for all of those hit by the superstorm: recovering after disaster, and most importantly, preparing for future ones. Architects, planners and policy makers play a crucial role.
So far, Sandy has claimed 157 deaths in total (at least 88 in the US, two in Canada, 52 in Haiti, 11 in Cuba, two in the Bahamas, two in the Dominican Republic, one in Jamaica and one in Puerto Rico), leaving thousands without power and homeless in its wake. While in the U.S., damage costs could run as high as $50 billion (ranking it second after Katrina), in the Carribbean, few funds available to rebuild means appealing for emergency aid–yet again.
“Haiti is trying to get its house in order, but each time disaster strikes, the progress is interrupted,” head of the UN’s office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs Johan Peleman told The Guardian. Now with 200,000 more homeless added to the 400,000 rendered homeless since the earthquake, Haiti was the worst hit. In the Dominican Republic more than 18,100 people had to be evacuated as the storm destroyed bridges and isolated at least 130 communities. Cuba reported damage to 137,000 homes.
Despite vulnerabilities, the U.S. has shown its best face in terms of crisis management, and reconstruction should serve as a mini-stimulus for the regional economy, reports The Economist. The American Institute of Architects and the AIA National Disaster Assistance Committee are coordinating efforts to assist architects in evaluating the building damage, also working with Architecture for Humanity to coordinate advocacy, education, and training that helps architects make effective contributions to communities preparing for, responding to, and rebuilding after disaster. Times are tough for many New Englanders, but the job will get done.
In places like Jamaica, Haiti, and Cuba the path won’t be nearly as easy.