President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Clark Manus issued the following statement regarding the Japan earthquake:
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.
The AIA has members that are able to participate in rapid damage assessments to help people quickly and safely return to structures, or to keep people away from unsafe structures. More than 1,000 AIA members have received specific training to perform this work and the AIA is in touch with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Japan Institute of Architects (JIA) to offer these resources.
Japan is already at the forefront of disaster preparedness from which other countries can learn. First, however, we know from our shared experiences following the earthquake in Haiti, earthquakes in New Zealand, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the tsunami in South-east Asia that the Japanese need our prayers as well as assistance now and during the long effort toward recovery and rebuilding. We are encouraging our nearly 80,000 AIA members to do what they can to contribute to organizations best able to provide the immediate assistance the Japanese people need in the aftermath of destruction.
The AIA is renewing its call made last year for Congress to fund the Codes and Safety for Americas Act (CASA). Currently targeted for Latin America, 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 U.S. has its own vulnerabilities outside of the San Andreas Fault region in California that need to be further addressed. The Pacific Northwest has seismic hazards that are remarkably similar to those in Japan, and an earthquake off the coast of Oregon or the state of Washington could trigger a tsunami throughout the region. In the Midwest the New Madrid fault experienced a series of earthquakes up to an estimated 8.0 in 1811 and 1812. Building codes in each of these regions should be re-examined in light of the Japan quake.
The utterly devastated lives and communities of northern Japan are foremost on our minds. This unimaginable compound natural disaster cries out for a swift response to help alleviate the suffering and salvage the remaining fabric of families, friends, and loved ones.