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Recovering from Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria: Rebuild Resources for Those in Need

Written by OBM International

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, hundreds of thousands of people in the Caribbean are left reeling from high force winds, flooding and rainfall that caused mass devastation. More than damage to individual properties, these natural disaster events disabled local infrastructures resulting in whole communities left without fresh water, fuel, power or communication services. Also, severely impacted are individuals’ means of providing for themselves, which is especially evident to a region dependent upon tourism.

While many local governments are struggling to ensure safety and public welfare and begin the process of rebuilding infrastructure, it is also an opportunity to look to the future and envision communities and islands that rebuild stronger and more resilient. For those with speciality skills, such as professionals in the architecture, construction and engineering industries, there are numerous ways to assist communities, businesses and individuals after disasters.

The AEC industry plays a critical role in rebuilding after disasters by assisting governments, businesses and individuals throughout the recovery process. Below are just some of the ways they can help.

  • Provide technical expertise to make sound development decisions and inform local and regional planning and policy efforts
  • Assist in building code development, enforcement and permitting
  • Train for and share lessons learned from post-disaster building safety assessments
  • Coordinate with local agencies to aid rebuilding efforts such as the Office of Emergency Management, the Building Department and the Office of Planning
  • Determining the habitability of homes and businesses
  • Provide documentation of drawings and plans for insurance

The aftermath of a disaster, while devastating, can be used the opportunity for communities to create a stronger, brighter future. Architects can guide and initiate this visualisation process by asking the right questions when public entities confront the task of rebuilding. Where do people live and where should they not live, now and in the future? Do we reconstruct with the same techniques and materials typically used, or is there a better way to build in areas that are threatened by flooding? Now more than ever we need to focus on resilient design with local specificity to rebuild smarter and stronger buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions.

When your reimagining your future we encourage you to solicit the advice and insights of industry professionals who can help. At a time, such as this many A/E/C professionals are dedicating countless hours to guide those in the Caribbean who want to rebuild for a stronger tomorrow. If you’d like more information, please reach out to your local architecture, construction or engineering professional organisations or the team at OBMI who can point you in the right direction.

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