Issues & AdvocacyState
AIA Rhode Island’s Response to Sandy Demonstrates the Value of Preparedness
By Cooper Martin, Manager, Community Resilience
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, architects around the country immediately began to ask how they could help. AIA members sent their offers of assistance, commitments to travel, and even their resumes, searching for some way their skills could be of some use.
Members of AIA Rhode Island already knew the answer.
The early morning on Tuesday, October 30 – less than 24 hours after Rhode Island experienced coastal flooding from Hurricane Sandy – an architect received a phone call. He, along with other architects and engineers, were needed along the coast to help authorities inspect buildings for damage. As a member of the “Architects and Engineers Emergency Response Task Force” (AEERTF), it was a call he expected.
Over the next five days, teams of volunteer design professionals worked under the direction of Rhode Island Emergency Management (RIEMA) and provided rapid and detailed assessment services for 163 buildings – roughly 20 percent of all assessments. Their final report from the field is now available as a case study on the AIA Disaster Response Website.
This highly coordinated response was years in the making. In 2008, the chapter began organizing meetings between architects, civil engineers, building officials, and emergency responders. Architects asked about emergency response procedure, expressed concerns about professional liability, and committed to be trained to assist in post-disaster damage assessment. In 2009, with support from AIA National, a series of agreements were signed between RIEMA, the AEERTF, individual architects, and the architects’ employers to coordinate a voluntary response. Since that time, AIA Rhode Island has maintained an AEERTF Committee to stay prepared and train new volunteers.
AIA National is still collaborating with local chapters and other organizations to identify opportunities and find ways to provide assistance to the coastal communities that were devastated. In other regions, the best thing architects can do is prepare their chapters and communities to respond in a similar fashion. The next large scale disaster may hit closer to home.
For more information, visit the AIA Disaster Response Website.
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