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Architects in Service - Disaster Relief
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Architects in Service : Flood Disaster Relief

This page is a joint effort of AIA Tennessee and AIA Middle Tennessee.

Assisting Colleagues Following the 2011 Southeast Tornado Disaster

How to Help

A note from AIA Alabama:

Yesterday's massive storms have left lots of devastation behind and architects may be needed to help inspect structural damage. If you can assist, please reply to this email address,, so we can develop a list of AIA members willing to lend their expertise to local officials in the damaged areas. Please make sure you include your cell phone number in your response. We have calls into the Emergency Management Headquarters and will let you know what we learn.

Thank you,
Larry Vinson, CAE, Executive Director, Alabama Council AIA

Responding to Disaster - AIA Leaders Discuss Stages of Disaster Response

The floods and storms devastating the southern and central states region will leave a daunting imprint on the personal and professional lives of AIA members, their families, and communities. The AIA is reaching out to determine the needs of those members and Components that have experienced damage and loss. The AIA Disaster Assistance Team appointed by President Clark Manus extended an offer of assistance to Components in the hardest hit areas and stand poised to respond when it is appropriate.

This morning, we instructed a disaster response team from the national Component to be a resource for Components and members whose communities have been affected.

Component colleagues we’ve heard from say that they are reaching out to the members to solicit volunteers to work in their communities. In the days and weeks that follow, we will work together with Components and members to assist in damage assessment and rebuilding efforts.

The initial efforts will focus on disaster relief. However, no AIA member should offer any services related to the practice of architecture without direct guidance from emergency management officials who are empowered to make these decisions.

Disaster Response

Disaster response typically occurs in three stages:

  • Emergency: The first response, it relies on quick action and involves providing emergency shelter, medical assistance, food, and other such services. This stage can last two to three weeks.
  • Relief: Short-term housing, health services, and employment counseling are provided. Formal assessment of damage begins with examinations of buildings, including analysis of historic properties and other structures. This stage may last up to six months.
  • Recovery: This stage is characterized by rebuilding, with an emphasis on long-term comprehensive planning to enhance the physical fabric of the community. Regulatory changes may be necessary to mitigate the effect of future disasters. This period may last three years or more.

There may be long days ahead and we encourage Component leaders to do what they do best: draw together to help in whatever way they can to help those who have been hurt to get back on their feet. You can help, too, by making a donation to any of the disaster relief organizations that are listed on this page.

As we learn more, we will be sharing updates via this special section on the AIA website. Keep our colleagues and the communities that are struggling in your thoughts and prayers.

The information above is taken from:

Japanese 2011 Earthquake Tsunami and Reactor Disaster

How to Help

The Guardian has some helpful tips on donating to the Japan relief effort.

Follow developments regarding architecture and the disaster response in Japan at the official AIA site:

Tragedy in Japan: Ways AIA Members Can Help

"Our hearts go out to the people of Japan as a result of this horrific earthquake and tsunami. We are in contact with our colleagues at AIA Japan and the Japan Institute of Architects to offer not only our condolences but our profession's technical and professional expertise when the initiative begins focusing on rebuilding."

This was the message from AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA, to AIA members following the tragic events that unfolded late last week. It is a message that has also been delivered to the AIA's professional colleagues in Japan.

Architects play key roles in helping communities recover and rebuild from natural disasters by performing damage assessments of buildings or engaging in the long process of redesigning a built environment. These activities take place weeks or months after the disaster, after the initial rescue and relief activities are completed. Because Japan has extensive licensing and building design regulations, assistance efforts made by foreign organizations like the AIA or its members should be done at the invitation of appropriate entities.

BREAKING: Late yesterday (March 16), the State Department issued a new Japan travel warning, their highest level of concern regarding U.S. citizens abroad, because of the nuclear crisis and hardships from the earthquake. The warning states that the Department "strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing."

Initial Relief Efforts Take Precedence

Already, there has been an outpouring of support and offers to help from AIA members around the country and abroad.

The AIA has created a resource page for Japan and advises members that the best way to assist in these early stages is by donating to relief organizations like the Red Cross.

Additionally, the AIA will rely on the advice and expertise of members around the country, particularly the President’s Disaster Assistance Task Force. Chaired by Rachel Minnery, this member group also includes Jennifer Zolkos, Michael Lingerfelt, Kirk O’Brien, C. Stan Peterson, Terry Brown, Ann Somers, and George Salinas.

Next Steps: Rebuilding and Ensuring Better Building Codes

The AIA also is preparing to help its members take a more active role once rebuilding begins. The U.S. Department of Commerce has asked the AIA and other related professional bodies to help it assemble database of professionals and companies that can aid in the rebuild process. Architects and firms that are interested in getting on this database can send their name, company, address, city, point-of-contact, and specialty description to Jessica Salmoiraghi, director, Federal Regulatory Relations. There is no obligation to participate or a guarantee that entities that sign up will be contacted.

The AIA also is renewing its call made last year for Congress to fund the Codes and Safety for Americas Act (CASA). We recognize that the disaster in Japan would have been much worse if it had struck anywhere else, in countries that are much less prepared. Currently targeted for Latin America, funding for CASA would enable USAID to assist countries in dealing with the mitigation of disasters by training professionals in both the public and private sector to enhance their understanding of building design codes and standards.

The AIA will continue to coordinate with our partner organizations in Japan and update AIA members as the situation continues to evolve. Please look to upcoming issues of The Angle, and AIArchitect for regular updates.


Contact us at AIAMIDTN if you see a way our membership can help.


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