Why is Architects’ Volunteerism so Important to a City’s Disaster Recovery?

AIA's Response to Hurricane Harvey and How You Can Help

By Posted on September 4, 2017


Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets as floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey continue to rise, Monday, August 28, 2017. More than 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard have been called out to support local authorities in response to the storm. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West)

We’ve all followed the devastating impact that Hurricane Harvey has had on Houston and western Louisiana. Among the hundreds of thousands who have been directly affected by the storm, nearly 3,000 are AIA members. The storm and the flooding have left none of them unscathed. AIA Houston had more than three feet of water in their building, affecting their servers and computers.

AIA National is deeply involved in coordinating efforts to mobilize and train volunteers to assist on-the-ground with building assessments. AIA’s Disaster Assistance team, as well as all of the support staff, have done an excellent job preparing. o give you an idea of the scope of the effort-every component that has been affected by a natural disaster in the last five years has been trained for the Disaster Assistance Program. We will be calling on these members from around the country to help Houston recover.

To give you an idea of the scope of the effort-every component that has been affected by a natural disaster in the last five years has been trained for the Disaster Assistance Program. These members from around the country will be there to help Houston recover.

Here’s a brief status update of Texas components’ situations and AIA’s coordinating efforts provided by AIA National:

General status: Component offices, firms, and member’s homes are flooded. The extent is still unknown. The TX Disaster Assistance program is minimally developed; as a result, we are aggressively working to mobilize local volunteers.

  • AIA Corpus Christi is moving into recovery stages.
  • AIA Southeast Texas is currently consolidating with AIA Houston.
  • AIA Dallas has the most disaster assistance trained members and is where the AIA State Coordinators are.
  • Texas Society of Architects (TSA) is coordinating the state’s components needs, specifically relating to, legal issues, volunteer training, collecting for future distributions, i.e., office supplies and space.

Current AIA National Efforts

  • AIA is hosting daily support calls with affected components and members. These discussions have centered on the following issues:
    • Chain of command/the role of FEMA.
    • Obtaining formal requests from jurisdictions to perform safety assessments.
    • Volunteer training and credentialing requirements.
    • Communication management for member firms and members.
  • AIA trained TSA members this week in its “emergency” version of the Safety Assessment Program so that they may perform building safety assessments once waters recede, and shelter for volunteers is identified.
  • AIA is working with its counterparts at the federal level to coordinate and offer support.
    • AIA enabled volunteering in Texas through a partnership with ICC/BOAT.
    • FEMA has requested AIA members to join its Mitigation Assessment Teams.

AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program Key Resources

Aside from technical expertise and training, AIA provides the following resources to assist our members:

AIA’s website is being updated daily as events unfold. For more information, including how you can help, visit Hurricane Harvey Updates.

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