The AIA national component has been encouraging disaster preparedness for many years. This is an inside-out endeavor initially charged by members acting first in their own communities and sharing their lessons learned about what is needed and when. Charlie Harper, based in Wichita Falls, Tex., is one notable example. Over the past few decades his name has become synonymous with architect-related disaster relief efforts.
Now comes a new wave—literally—of people losing homes and entire communities as flooding hits the Midwest.
The floods in Iowa and Missouri have prompted widespread reactions. Everybody wants to help, even if they don't know quite how. In Iowa, the membership was already taking pre-empitive action when the region was suddenly caught in the midst of the recent torrential rains.
Specifically, AIA Iowa was in the process of setting up a disaster-assistance effort, but, says Chapter Exec Suzanne Schwengels, the efforts weren't as mature as they might have wished. She notes that communities are currently in a massive cleanup effort with community organizations and churches at the forefront of immediate recovery. Thanks to preparedness, so is AIA Iowa.
"We have put together 33 teams so far," says AIA Iowa Damage Assistance program leader Tom Hurd, AIA. "So far we have done over 400 assessments, so that is pretty good. What a way to kick off our program."
At some point, you'll need this kind of preparedness too, he advises. "And it's better to start before a catastrophic event than during it," he shares from recent experience.
Currently, AIA Iowa is taking names of people willing to volunteer services and donations. Send an e-mail to Suzanne Schwengels to offer help: email@example.com