Enumclaw graduate gives Haiti a hand

“At the time I didn’t consider why,” Aaron Pambianco blogged. “I only recall that when the invitation to accompany a local team of engineers and architects to Haiti for two weeks was presented, I couldn’t refuse.”

In April, Pambianco, a 1990 Enumclaw High School graduate, joined other Seattle-area engineers to form a team that assessed commercial and residential buildings in Léogâne, Haiti. Léogâne was at the epicenter of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rolled through Haiti in January.

“It’s as dire as you think,” Pambianco said of the situation which included no reliable source of electricity or water. “They just don’t have the infrastructure to move forward.”

As a structural engineer with HSV Engineers, Pambianco’s role was to assess the structural damage to homes and buildings. His host was the charitable non-governmental organization Hands On Disaster Relief. The information was compiled and presented to the local municipality for use in receiving aid.

In addition to the building assessment, the group consulted owners on the degree of repair their homes may need and whether or not they could sleep in the building. During the two-week stay, the group evaluated approximately 700 private residences and commercial structures, and helped some families return to safe shelter.

Pambianco said at times it was frustrating and sometimes he felt ineffective. In one instance, he gave a woman and her family the OK to move back into their home. He told them it was safe, but they wouldn’t return, opting instead to live in the many makeshift tents and structures.

While there, Pambianco also helped design a three-room elementary school and provided foundation anchor bolts and hurricane ties, which he hauled in his luggage. Wood-framing was chosen because it is light and can withstand future seismic events.

The group also took the time to teach volunteers and locals how to erect safer structures and provided brochures with instructions.

Pambianco also brought with him a much-needed, and requested, concrete saw he and friends raised money to purchase through the help of Enumclaw’s Dick Brown and Cutter’s Supply.

“I would love to go back,” Pambianco said.

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