About The Resilience Institute

The Resilience Institute is part of WWU Huxley’s College of the Environment. It facilitates scholarship, education, and practice on reducing social and physical vulnerability through sustainable community development, as a way to minimize loss and enhance recovery from disasters in Washington State and its interdependent global communities.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

China's earthquake- damage and rescue

I've been watching the news coming out of China for a week now and it feels so much like déjà vu. from the 1999 Marmara Earthquakes in Turkey. In Turkey, as in China, development had been achieved at a break neck speed. Rural people had poured into the major industrial cities of the Marmara regions -Istanbul, Kocaeli, Izmit, Duzce, Adapazarı and others.

With such a rapid increase of population, density was achieved through reinforced concrete construction. Replacing 1 and 2 story wood and brick buildings were towering concrete apartment buildings. It house the people, but so much of it was built before a robust and transparent building inspection process could be fully enforced. This looks to be the case in China as well.

In Turkey, much of the construction from 1960-1999 was also built illegally by self-builders who neither understood what made reinforced concrete earthquake resistant, nor understood the important of construction quality. That may not be the case in China. I'm sure it will be studied in great detail over the next few years.

In the mean time, a CNN video of the minutes after the earthquake was posted to the ENDRR-L list serve hosted by Prevention Web. The video is very dramatic, but also very telling. Survivors engage in a strong self-organizing response to rescue trapped victims, treat the wounded and find needed supplies. Watching the video, I look at it and empathize with the survivors. But I also find myself making a mental note of what supplies would be helpful in that sort of aftermath. Think I'll go check what I've got in my emergency supply kit...

Also telling are the injuries people sustained from non-structural damage....damage resulting from the shifting or collapse of personal contents or things like partition walls and light fixtures. Its a reminder of the importance to secure your furniture if you live in earthquake country.

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