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Seminar Review

UB Reaching Others - The Haiti Earthquake
March 26, 2010

From Left to Right: Pierre Fouche, Chris Renschler, Andre Filiatrault, Lawrence Bone and Stephen Dunnett recount their experiences following the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake.

Five members of the University at Buffalo community who played a part in assisting Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.0M earthquake on January 12 came together on March 26, 2010, at the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts to share their experiences with the crisis. Each speaker had a different story to tell, but all had a common theme—to help the country and its people in the present and to plan for a better future.

Dean Harvey Stenger, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, welcomed the speakers. He was followed by Adel Sadek, chair of the UB 2020 Strategic Strength on Extreme Events: Mitigation and Response, and professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering. Prof. Sadek provided an overview of the program and detailed introductions of each of the speakers. A recap about each of the talks is provided below, accompanied by PowerPoint presentations.

Haiti Before the January 12th Event: Exposure, Seismicity and State of the Engineering Practice

Pierre Fouché, Haitian-born doctoral candidate and Fulbright Scholar in UB's Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, began his talk with a discussion about conditions in Haiti prior to the earthquake, including a brief history of the country, its seismicity and vulnerability to natural hazards, and engineering practice. He then provided an overview of the event itself and concluded with hopes, resolutions and challenges for the future. Pierre was named one of CNN's intriguing people of January 21, 2010.
Fouche Presentation

Mapping a Disaster - Supporting the Recovery

Chris Renschler, associate professor of geography and director of the Landscape-based Environmental System Analysis & Modeling (LESAM) Laboratory, discussed his involvement with Geo-Can, a multi-institutional group of experts who are using airborne and satellite imagery to assess damage caused by the earthquake. The high resolution imagery was acquired almost immediately following the quake, and is being used to assist responders and the community to determine the accessibility of roads, capacity of the building stock, and needs in the recovery and reconstruction effort.
Renschler Presentation

Building Assessments: The First Step to Recovery

André Filiatrault, professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering and director of MCEER, reported on his experience in setting up a building assessment procedure on behalf of the United Nations. He led an international team of French-speaking architects and engineers that visited Haiti to assess the structural safety of hospitals, food warehouses and other structures critical to the immediate relief effort in Port-au-Prince. Since this initial visit, three more teams have carried on with the work started by Filiatrault's team.
Filiatrault Presentation

The USNS Comfort and Orthopaedic Care: Initial Steps to Healing

Lawrence Bone, M.D., Orthopaedics Department Chair and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University at Buffalo, and orthopaedic trauma surgeon at ECMC, discussed his experience with nine other members of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) who volunteered in treating Haitian patients injured during the earthquake. From February 3-15, aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship the USNS Comfort, Dr. Bone and his colleagues performed more than 200 operations on complex and difficult injuries that were already three to five weeks old.
Bone Presentation

UB's Efforts to Assist Haitian Students and Build Relationships with Haitian Universities

Stephen Dunnett, UB professor and vice provost for international education, reported on his office's efforts to assist Haitian students at UB, including short-term grants and tuition reductions. He also discussed initiatives between UB and several Haitian colleges and universities to train Haitian students in building assessment techniques and earthquake engineering.
Dunnett Presentation

Panel Session/Q&A

The presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session. Several members of the audience were Haitian-born immigrants or UB students, with close ties to the country. Some of the topics addressed in more detail included the importance of emphasizing earthquake education, the safe use of reinforced concrete in future construction, and spreading the message of earthquake preparedness throughout the country, not just in Port Au Prince.

This seminar was sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs, MCEER and the UB 2020 strategic strength Extreme Events: Mitigation and Response.

Seminar Program

UB Reaching Others: The Haiti Earthquake - Video Interviews

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Banner Photo Credits, From Left: UN Photo/Marco Dormino, UN Photo/Logan Abassi, U.S. Navy/ Joshua Lee Kelsey, Public Domain/Mike8411251995, UN/Marco Dormino.