Haiti Quake: A Plan for Reconstruction
For those not used to working in disasters the first week is chaotic, filled with stories of heroism and despair. The first responders are not the NGO's or medical personal but the families of those who are injured or lost their lives. It is an overwhelming situation to be in. It is also not the time for architects to show up thinking they can rebuild. People are trying to find their loved ones not think about what their lives will look like in 5, 10 or 15 years.
Trying to keep perspective is extremely hard. We've personally lost colleagues, friends and extremely valuable people in the last few days. On Thursday, one phone call ended with 'they are all gone.' For those of us who are part of the reconstruction effort, we need to think about immediate needs for shelter while planning for the next three to five years of rebuilding.
When we are rebuilding, do not let the media set the time line and expectations for reconstruction. I remember vividly well known news personalities standing on the rubble of homes in the lower ninth proclaiming that 'this time next year we will see families back home.' Some well meaning NGOs, who usually have little building experience, are even worse -- 'we'll have 25,000 Haitians back home if you donate today.' In reality, here is what it really looks like...