AIA Rapid Assessment Strike Team
On Friday, August 24, in response to a declared State of Emergency, state and local emergency management officials contacted the AIA Wisconsin Disaster Assistance Committee coordinators for help with post-flood building safety assessments in western Dane County.
Coordinators Janine Glaeser, AIA, Madison, and Stacey Keller, AIA, Windsor, put out the call to activate over 40 volunteers with CalOES Safety Assessment Program (SAP) Evaluator training.
A SAP refresher on flooding emergencies was provided for volunteers on Saturday at the AIA Wisconsin office. The coordinators also met with emergency management officials for updates.
On Monday, the AIA Rapid Assessment Strike Team was deployed to Mazomanie. Resilient community volunteers and AIA Southwest Wisconsin members were recruited to assist the SAP-trained architects.
The AIA RASTeam moved on to Black Earth on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday and to Cross Plains on Friday and Saturday.
In less than a week, these volunteers completed a total of 547 safety assessments of residential and commercial buildings in these three hard-hit Dane County communities.
Overall, 20 volunteers worked a total of 333 hours over five days onsite in the three communities, conducting and supporting safety assessments of damaged structures. In addition, each three-person assessment team included a local leader as a community liaison.
Notices were posted on the properties after each safety assessment and summary reports were provided to village officials and county emergency management coordinators for follow-up.
“This is great – it’s exactly what we need for our next level of reporting to the state,” replied a Dane County official in thanking AIA Wisconsin volunteers for the building safety assessment reports.
The flooding damage was devastating for many property owners in these communities. The response to the emergency by area public safety officials and community leaders was remarkable.
The assistance provided by the volunteers on the AIA Rapid Assessment Strike Team was priceless and contributed significantly to the recovery efforts.
“The experience of working long days with other committed AIA Wisconsin member volunteers as well as local elected and emergency management officials was extremely rewarding,” according to Glaeser, who served as the primary disaster coordinator and field inspection coordinator. “Thanks to the generous and tireless efforts of many volunteers, we were able to provide essential and timely information to residents and public officials that will aid in the recovery of these communities.”
As the rain, severe weather and flooding continued, the Governor declared a State of Emergency for the entire state.
In 2016, AIA Wisconsin and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding outlining how the two organizations would work together to assist Wisconsin communities following a natural disaster.
As appropriate, AIA Wisconsin agreed to:
- Share policy and guidance manuals, brochures and other information regarding services.
- Disseminate WEM emergency management information through designated committee volunteers.
- Assist WEM in assessing disaster-related damage to structures.
- Coordinate all deployments with WEM through designated committee volunteers.
- Assist counties, as requested, in inspecting and placarding structures for safety and habitability.
- Augment local building code inspection department resources in the affected county as requested.
- Provide report of damaged structures to WEM to assist in facilitation of requests for disaster related victim/survivor assistance.
- Participate in the Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments with county, state and federal partners as requested.
- Assist communities in planning their reconstruction following a disaster.
AIA Wisconsin was fortunate to have a cadre of architects and allied professionals with SAP Evaluator credentials ready to respond following this recent flooding emergency. One-day SAP training has been offered by AIA Wisconsin over the past few years.
Additional trained volunteers will be needed for disaster emergencies in the future. Planning is underway to provide more SAP training and identify disaster coordinators and field inspection coordinators for each of Wisconsin’s four local AIA sections.
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