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TIME Haiti: Tragedy & Hope

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  • Posted July 21, 2010

    Time article re Haiti shake damage is myopic and misleading

    Frirst of all, the Haiti shake was not a particular strong one. Wood houses, because of the very fact they are flimsy, and as a result quite flexible, tend to sway with the ground waves of a samll earthquake. Because Haiti was not a large shake, the houses would have absorbed quite a bit of the jolt from ground shocks -- somewhat like a spring or play-dough. Larger shakes might have shaken the houses like a rag doll, imposing far more destructive forces.

    The real point here, which seems to be ignored, is that the Carribean islands are subject to meaningful hurricanes -- on a far more regular basis than earthquakes. A big hurricane, category 4 or 5, will likely scatter the pieces of the "flexible" houses over a large territory. Anyone interested can go to the web and look up the experience with flexible houses on the island of Guam, a region quite similar in character to that of the Carribean -- experiencing earthquakes plus big winds. Big winds there distribute pieces of the "flexible" houses out over the ocean on a fairly regular basis. There they have been successfully building houses that withstand, without damage, both of these agents of destruction and have been consistently doing so for over 35 years. They have withstood shakes to Richter 8.1 (Haiti was ten times less severe) and big winds up to 240 miles per hour. (Higher than Florida's hurricane Andrew)

    And the design and construction techniques are public domain and do not require any proprietary or patented ($) systems.

    For example, one can purchase window shutters from the local Guam Home Depot.

    Time to get real.

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