Hurricane Season is Here! Disaster Assistance Program Update

Although Hurricane Season is here, we fortunately have not had to contend with any major storms.  Still, our recent history in Ellicott City shows that disasters can come at any moment, whether we are ready or not.  We are in the midst of organizing our AIA Maryland Disaster Assistance Program (DAP), as part of The AIA network of state DAP’s, and although we have made some significant progress, we still have work to do. Our goal is to have a statewide network of responders, trained and ready for when the need arises, and we are looking for your help!

Last week, while in NYC attending the 2018 AIA National Convention, AIA Maryland Executive Director, Sandi Worthman and President, Larry Frank joined me when we met with one of the countries leading experts on disaster response, Illya Azaroff, AIA.  He is an architect in New York, and is as experienced in this field as they come. We were able to cover some significant ground with Illya and he has offered to help us as we get organized.  There are only a handful of strong DAP programs in place in the country, and with Illya’s support we hope Maryland will become one of the model organizations in the US.

Sandi and I also met with Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) two weeks ago.  They are command central for any disasters that might develop and are thrilled to learn that architects are willing and able to help.  We will soon be joining them on a call with the Emergency Response teams  for all of Maryland’s counties, so we should soon be well connected to the government programs across the state.

We are appealing to any and all architects to let us know if you are interested in finding out more and/or are ready to join us in this effort.  Please contact me or Sandi with any questions you may have. The process is simple …  you attend a day-long training (6.5 HSW CEU’s) to become a certified building evaluator, get on our list of volunteers, prepare your “go-bag” and then wait to be contacted.  Your assignment will be to briefly inspect buildings to determine how safe they are for occupancy.  We rate whether a resident/owner should stay out of the building, go in temporarily to retrieve valuables or, re-occupy.  Local officials will follow up to verify your assessment.

Deployment may be local for a day or two, or if you are willing, it could be as much as 7-10 days any where in the world a disaster has struck.  This is volunteer work with expenses covered by government agencies such as FEMA.

Please let us know ASAP as…the next disaster is not a scheduled event.  Thanks.