Follow Dr. H. Kit Miyamoto as he travels the world, visiting natural disasters sites or places where earthquake risk is high. As CEO of the structural engineering company Miyamoto International, Kit is dedicated to making the world a better place. “Our responsibility as engineers is to make buildings safer by sharing what we know around the world.” Subscribe to his blog below and join his journey to save lives and impact economies.
I am sleeping average of 2.5 hours for the last four days. We start early and end super late. Then people in the U.S. wake up and there are daily Skype interviews and reports to write until after midnight. It’s a battlefield of adrenaline. I don’t feel much fatigue.
Our assessment team in Nepal so far is me, Sandeep and Manis. Sandeep Shah is from our Miyamoto India office and Manis is our Nepalese structural engineer partner. He ran one of the largest companies with 30 people in Kathmandu.
Manis drives a little red Honda through the city. The town is empty and all the stores are closed with not much action. The apartments above the stores are all vacant. The population essentially fled the town for fear of the next earthquake. We notice a large modern complex of a high-rise condominium building along the dusty road. As we approach the complex, we see large gashes and cracks on many of the walls. Some of walls are totally missing with furniture exposed inside. I hope no one fell with it. A small lady sitting by the curbside asks me, “I am living in this house next door. Can I go back to live in my house?” All of us decide to go into the gut of this building to see if there is structural damage. I tell our guys, “We should get in fast and get out – and watch your head.”
Tuesday, April 28, 11 pm
After 30 hours of flight over Afghanistan and Iran, my plane was put on hold over Kathmandu airport. I was sitting next to a BBC producer and she told me she’s been in the air for the past three days trying to get to here. She was turned back twice because the airport was shut down.
I met up with Sandeep Shah, who heads our India office, at the crowded airport, where international rescue crews and police units gathered everywhere making plans.
I told everyone on our team to bring a change of clothes, seven days of MREs (meals ready to eat), a water filter, dust mask, construction boots, head-mounted light, international mobile phone, hardhat, rain jacket, seven days’ worth of power bars, a day pack and anything else to be independently sustainable, except for water.
Kathmandu was dark and quiet. We drove through quickly to reach our small hotel. We are the only new guests today and the hotel’s small garden had been taken over by tourists stuck here who were afraid to sleep inside. How ironic that two structural engineers opted to sleep indoors while the rest stayed out, fearful of aftershocks. Tomorrow we will assess the whole town, including a children’s school, and have several meetings with the UN, NGOs and others. We have a long day ahead of us.
Jon Buckley, a 32-year-old project engineer in our San Diego office, used his vacation and paid his own way to volunteer in Haiti for the firm’s nonprofit, Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief. Read his guest journal about his adventures – like eating BBQ goat, learning a few phrases in French and Creole and seeing the damage from a major earthquake for the first time in person. The highlight, though, was working on Miyamoto Relief’s newest project, the retrofit of a dangerous, 4,000-student school in the heart of Port-au-Prince.
Pictured left to right, Jon Buckley, Yves Paul and Beverly St. Come
Wishing you and yours a safe and prosperous new year!
We look forward to making the world a better place together with you in 2015.
Update from Louino Robillard: July, 2014 – Work continued throughout the month of June, with more holes being dug and the poles being installed. Throughout the beginning of the month, as school was ending, the community was very happy with the progress being made and saw that the contractors were working hard. When I spoke with community members, they appreciated not only the rehabilitation work but the fact that there were young men in the community who were benefitting from small jobs in digging out the foundation.
With this recent earthquake in Chiang Rai, there is heightened concern regarding the community’s seismic resiliency. Whether a community leader, building owner or resident of the city of Chiang Rai, all stakeholders have a vested interest in mitigating the seismic risk facing the community, the city and the country. …Read More
Friday, May 2, 2014
It’s 2:30 pm and the hot African sun bears down on us. Our plane is scheduled later today, but for now I face the blowing sea smell of the wind from the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is desolate, but absolutely wild and beautiful. It’s a pure honey brown sand beach in Buchanan in the county of Grand Bassa. My bare feet are in the sand with my business pants rolled up. I removed my tie hours ago. These things make sense in northern European weather. Not here. …Read More
Monday, April 28, 2014
It’s 9:30 am on a Monday and our second day in Liberia. We are here on a weeklong mission to advise the Government of Liberia on low-income housing construction.
Cojolo, our tall guide/guard and the Protocol Officer at the Ministry of Finance, waited for us for more than 30 minutes now in the lobby. I was concerned about his mood. He greeted me with a straight face and pointed at his watch. I swiftly ran into the breakfast room to fetch a cup of coffee. …Read More
As I descended the steps of the plane after 27 hours of a hellish ride from California, the African heat and humidity mixed with the smell of burning gas bombarded me. It was a vivid welcome to Liberia, a country in West Africa that’s home to 4 million people. The lush green jungle that framed the airport and the insect noises vibrating through the air overwhelmed me. …Read More