Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

City Center

In my first post, I reported on the warehouse area near the Port au Prince container port, and the devastated city center behind it. This is a supplement to that post, with images.

This overview shows the main harbor area, the container port and storage areas to the north, and the city center. I'll briefly discuss the warehouse area (near the center of the photograph), then go in to detail on the destruction found elsewhere.

I've rotated this image 90 degrees so the buildings look more realistic. I'll do this with all the remaining photographs as well. The main warehouse area contains mostly red-roofed buildings. The compound to the south has three buildings with writing on the top - "SOLIDARITE-HAITI-VENEZUELA". Actually, Venezuela's contributions to the rescue effort so far have been fairly small.

This blow-up shows part of the area in more detail. This is one of the areas with a major tent city, and shows the number of people wandering the streets. I'm sure the situation has changed in the last ten days, but I don't have any more recent imagery.

This is the first of several images showing the extent of the damage to the city center area of Port au Prince. I am using images of the first six blocks of the city center only. The damage extends for about 20 block to the east from this area. There are also significant other areas that have equal or greater damage, but I'm pushing Blogger's limitations on images as it is.

I do wish I had a decent map of Port au Prince, showing the names of the streets. Unfortunately I don't, so we'll have to just muddle through. If any one knows the street names, please feel free to let us know in the comments.

Some areas are more seriously damaged than others. The force of the shock from this earthquake appears to have been an up-and-down motion, rather than a shearing (left and right) motion. The structures of the buildings couldn't take the added force, and collapsed. The buildings themselves more or less collapsed straight down, like a stack of pancakes. This has made it difficult to dig people out from the rubble, as the upper floors of a building had collapsed onto the lower floors, with the bottom floors receiving the majority of the rubble. It will take years to completely remove all the debris from the city.

Many of the buildings that don't appear to be badly damaged from the images may be totally structurally unsound, may contain internal damage that doesn't show in the image, or may be relatively structurally sound, but have areas where the damage is significant enough the buildings are unsafe for people.

Everywhere you look in the city, there are dozens of trucks and hundreds of people, either trying to save what few possessions they can, or helping rescue those trapped inside buildings, or removing some of the rubble so emergency vehicles and aid can reach more parts of the city.

I wrote about this park on the waterfront in my first post. Here is a better-resolution image of the area.

Not only can you see the collapsed buildings, but the sidewalk near the ocean front is cracked and damaged.

Most of the major civilian hospitals were in the more built-up parts of the city, and suffered significant damage. There is no estimate of how many schools have been damaged, or how severe the damage to them might be. Currently, the only jobs for most Haitians in Port au Prince may be for rubble-removal. It will be difficult to impossible to begin rebuilding until the rubble and debris is cleared away.

The area I've covered in today's post is less than five percent of the total area of Port au Prince that was actually damaged by the earthquake. This doesn't include the damage to other towns and villages - Carrefour, Grassier, Saint Mesmin, Leogane, and dozens of others. Google Earth has not posted any updated imagery from Jacmel, which is stated to have been heavily damaged. Some of the more isolated villages in the mountains may not have even been reached for assessment yet.

Several people have commented that it may take ten years to rebuild Port au Prince. That may be an optimistic estimate.

As before, you can click on an image for a larger one. I also encourage everyone to read Chuck Simmins' "North Shore Journal", where they can find more information on the Haiti earthquake.


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