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Haiti Recon Mission Launches

Meenu Garg • DATE: November 16, 2016

A team of wind, coastal and structural engineers and UAV Technicians from the University of Notre Dame, the University of Florida, and the Applied Technology Council, will work alongside Haitian representatives from Resilience Haiti and Engineering 2Empower to forensically investigate the impacts of Hurricane Matthew across the Tiburon Peninsula. Matthew was the first Category 4 storm to impact Haiti in more than a half century. There are few examples of multiple sequential disasters hitting a country in general and certainly not when vulnerable populations are still recovering from the first disaster. The team will operate in Haiti November 17-26, 2016, using ground and aerial techniques as they visit some of the most impacted areas: Les Cayes, Port Salut, Jeremie, Dame Marie and Les Anglais. These efforts will  document the intensity of wind, wave and storm surge in the event, quantify the damage to homes and other structures, and reveal how homeowners envision their path toward recovery.

The impacts of Hurricane Matthew, much like the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, have been felt most heavily in the residential sector, with tens of thousands of homes destroyed. While this emphasizes again the importance of homes as a foundational element of a community’s resilience, impacts to local agricultural assets, resurgence of vector-borne diseases due to standing water, and impaired capacity to deliver clean water and safely manage sanitation will present new challenges to recovery that were not present in the 2010 Earthquake. This forensic effort will therefore serve as an important first step in the recovery process to inform reconstruction practices and policies in a way that protects vulnerable populations from future exposure. Data from this mission will be exchanged with the wider community of scholars and practitioners as part of the National Science Foundation’s Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure. The Principal Investigator, Tracy Kijewski-Correa, and co-Investigator Alexandros Taflanidis, both Kellogg Fellows, conducted a similar investigation in Leogane following the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, while co-Investigator Andrew Kennedy most recently documented the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan on vulnerable populations in the Philippines.