Haiti Recovery – add lobbyists to the roster of personnel

Street-view of the National Palace of Haiti, d...

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In my view, it is a sad commentary that the U.S. Congress has not honored our country’s promises to Haiti and that hiring lobbyists is the answer.  Haiti Recovery Aided by U.S. lobbyists, http://www.thehill.com, Oct. 11. According to the article,

A number of construction and disaster response firms have hired Washington lobbyists to help navigate the contracting process for rebuilding Haiti.

In January, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake that left thousands dead and millions homeless. Since then, the U.S. government and its international allies have pledged billions of dollars in aid to get the impoverished island nation back on its feet.

NZ – cited as model of earthquake response and recovery

NZ sets disaster preparedness example, says Clark, NZ Herald, Sept. 16.

Former N.Z. Prime Minister, Helen Clark, praises the national preparedness efforts with minimizing the deaths and injuries in the recent Christchurch/Canterbury Earthquake, especially true when compared with the outcome of the Haiti earthquake of the same magnitude. Ms Clark also commented on the positive benefit of beginning recovery planning quickly.  The ready availability of insurance money for reconstruction is an important feature of the N.Z. system.

If you put in place the systems which anticipate what disaster might strike, then you can act to thwart the worst effects. She was critical of how international aid funding was targeted after large natural disasters like the Haiti quake or the recent Pakistan floods.   While the international community generally provided immediate humanitarian relief, early recovery schemes to help people rebuild were “the least funded part of any international appeal for help.

I think there is an immediate need for a comparative study of recovery in N.Z. and the U.S. , and I plan to engage in one. Please contact me if you are planning to research this topic.

ChristChurch, NZ Earthquake – update

Earthquake damage - dairy

Image by martinluff via Flickr

As noted two days ago in this blog, the contrast between the outcomes of the same-size earthquakes in NZ and Haiti is stark.  Here is a discussion of one of the reasons for the difference. Building code saves NZ from serious destruction; Radio Australia, Sept. 6.

As we’ve heard in earlier reports, many New Zealanders are assessing the damage from the weekend’s earthquake. Jeff Crosier, is a structural and earthquake engineer from consulting firm Miyamoto International. While the New Zealand earthquake was larger than the one which devastated Haiti earlier this year, killing 200 thousand people, Mr Crosier says it is surprising how little damage has been caused in Christchurch.

One more explanation: Why the N.Z. quake is no Haiti. MSNBC, Sept. 6.

On the downside, more than 100 aftershocks have occurred, some of which are sizable.  It appears that the structure damage and the no. of badly damaged homes is growing.  To call New Zealand seismically active is an understatement.  According to a NY Times article on Sept. 6,

New Zealand sits above an area where two tectonic plates collide. The country records more than 14,000 earthquakes a year — but only about 150 are felt by residents. Fewer than 10 a year do any damage. New Zealand’s last major earthquake registered magnitude 7.8 and hit South Island’s Fiordland region on July 16, 2009, moving the southern tip of the country 12 inches (30 centimeters) closer to Australia.

Regarding the financial aspects of the recovery, the existence of insurance funds for residential reconstruction is an unusual feature.  Nevertheless, the national government will have to assist public entities as is true in the U.S. system. See UPDATE: New Zealand Building Shares Rally After Quake; Bonds Weaken; Wall St. Journal, Sept. 7.