Looking at the destruction in Nepal, maybe we see the same things. There is destruction of buildings, the uprooting of lives, loss of lives and injuries. There are needs for water, food, tents and medical aid. And everyone seeing news reports can see that.
And, aside from being sad about that destruction, I see and think other things too. The buildings didn’t stay up, they came down. The ones that stayed standing were damaged in multiple ways. Some of the newer buildings also came down or were compromised.
Where there is nothing but rubble and the walls of buildings that came down with people beneath them, my thoughts begin with seeing the type of debris it is – whether loose bricks to be moved or large slabs of concrete with rebar in them.
What kind of jack would lift those slabs? What kinds are available? What could be designed? What kind of rake or shovel could help move bricks and debris without further harming the people that could be trapped beneath them? How will those buildings be rebuilt so this doesn’t happen again?
And too, these scenes stir my thoughts about other buildings in tightly packed cities around the world from NYC to Tokyo. What will those look like when this happens with many of the buildings made of unreinforced masonry in cities including New York. At least in Japan, many areas have buildings suited to survive extreme events, but few other cities can boast anything like that.
Long ago, I thought about these same things after other earthquakes happened. The long hours between the event and help arriving. The many needs suddenly desperate to simply keep survivors from becoming injured or dead from secondary causes. The slow unwieldy process of assessments being made for needs that were obvious as people sat in desolation and danger after an event. Buildings not being safe harbors of human lives, but rather instruments of its individual’s harm and death.
When I see these events on the news, on twitter, in pictures from the site, there are many thoughts in my mind about what could be done for the situation to not be as devastating next time and in other places where it can happen. Is there a way to shore up buildings to be structurally sound without completely rebuilding them? Are there jacks that could be incorporated into preparedness efforts and pre-staged to be immediately available for debris and building walls to be removed safely from victims?
My mind wanders to those things I don’t know – how many areas and cities at risk of extreme events including earthquakes have satellite phones for their decision-makers to use in the event to ask for and coordinate rescue efforts? How many would there have to be among local officials as well for there to be real communication between them after an event? How do local people get information about what is happening?
Solutions come to mind. Observable facts noted from buildings lost in the rubble – was the concrete brittle and like sand, were the rebar sized appropriately, was the space between them right or were they cutting corners on how much internal pieces were used to reinforce the structure?
And I think, how is it possible to explain to building contractors and local officials around the world what dangers there are to letting those kinds of cost cutting methods occur?
What irks me most about all of this, is not what I see when there is an earthquake or extreme event like this because my thinking looks for solutions and problems that need to be solved, ways to solve them and possibilities for making the world better.
What irks me is to think of the many ways I worked to solve some of these things, looking at materials and methods that could be used to reinforce buildings at risk, looking at the many cities across the world in need of those solutions including my country, and none of it means anything because I am poor and lack the resources to do anything with it.
Maybe it is as my grown daughters explained to me at the top of their lungs a couple days ago – that my voice, my life, my work, my mind, my potential, my thoughts and my solutions to things in the world are nothing because I am nothing and it doesn’t make any money and I don’t make any money and the things I create or do makes no money. That seems to be the only thing that matters.
Then why is it that when those so much wealthier than I am see these events, their thinking does not see the facts and think about them in such a way that solutions are created? Or why is it that they don’t pursue putting those solutions into the world when they have as much money as they do and financial resources available to them to do it? Or is that it, that unless something can be proven to generate money for them, none of it is pursued or given any time and efforts?
So that’s just great – people like me who have nothing can create solutions for problems in the world but can’t do anything with them because there are no funds or access to any financial resources to do any of it, and those with money and access to resources neither think about solving those thing nor wish to do anything with it nor to waste their precious financially valuable time thinking about any of it. Yeah, right.
And, because I’m poor and have been poor forever with no chance of being anything but poor, my thoughts, observations, solutions and problem-solving for it are considered worthless – just a bunch of bullshit that will never amount to anything. That is not the America I was taught that it is. And, if money is the only determining factor of worth and what is worthwhile which seems to be the case, then my children are right – none of what I can bring to the table means anything to anyone.
And, no – I didn’t post here any of the solutions that I’ve created for shoring up unreinfoced masonry buildings or anything else. According to my children and family members, neighbors and community, I have no right to think up those things because I am poor and it doesn’t make any money. Poor people don’t have any right thinking about those kinds of things at all and I am poor. Sorry, maybe a rich person will think up the same things to solve those problems or something even better along with a way to make money for themselves from doing it – then, the world will have those kinds of solutions. But they didn’t before today, I don’t know why they would tomorrow.