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Disaster Assistance Update – How Architects Can Help
By Cooper Martin, Director, Resilient Communities

The last two weeks have seen unprecedented storms in both the United States and abroad that have destroyed whole communities and left many homeless. Although Typhoon Haiyan and the Midwest tornado outbreak are disasters at two completely different scales, the response from AIA members has been the same: “How can we help?”

The AIA has taken action in both of these situations to offer the skills, expertise, and generosity of its members.

In response to Super Typhoon Haiyan, AIA leadership have reached out to several professional associations to offer our condolences and, if requested, our assistance. This includes our AIA International component, the International Union of Architects (UIA), ArcAsia, and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP).We know that the UAP has formed two committees in response to the disaster. The first is focused on collecting donations of food, water, clothing, and other basic humanitarian goods. The second group is focused on temporary shelter and long-term housing in coordination with the National Housing Authority. As yet, there is no direct means to support these efforts, but the AIA will update members if that becomes a possibility.

Additionally, the AIA’s partners at Architecture for Humanity have a chapter network in Manila, which has been granted permission to set up a physical office at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

In a disaster of this magnitude, it is important to remember that architects are not first responders. It will likely take several months before humanitarian needs are met and the reconstruction process can begin. The best thing you can do in the short term is donate to a charity you trust.

For members who wish to keep their donations within the profession, the AIA encourages you to donate to Architecture for Humanity. Together, we will not only provide skills and expertise, but share our knowledge to empower local architects to lead in their own recovery.

This past weekend, Midwestern states were struck by one of the biggest tornado outbreaks ever for November. The worst damage took place in Illinois. Already the AIA has learned of several members whose homes, or the homes of their family members, were completely destroyed. However, we are heartened by the response effort that our state and local chapters are already stepping up to lead.

AIA Illinois has worked for several years to prepare its members to participate in emergency management. Immediately following the storm, the chapter was notified that the Business Emergency Operations Center, their conduit for official emergency updates, had been activated.

On Nov. 20, at least a dozen trained architects were deployed by Tazewell County in Illinois to conduct building safety assessments. In two days AIA Disaster Assistance volunteers will have completed assessments that would have otherwise taken two weeks or more. Full updates of their work can be found at the AIA Illinois Disaster Relief site.

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