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close this bookSevere Tropical Storms Preparation and Response - Case Study Text (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1991, 58 p.)
close this folderPart Three: Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
View the documentK. Rehabilitation and reconstruction activities
View the documentL. Weaknesses in Early Rehabilitation
View the documentM. Implications for development
View the documentN. Lessons Learned: Programmes Contributing Positively to Preparedness
View the documentO. Subsequent mitigation projects initiated as a consequence of the disaster

O. Subsequent mitigation projects initiated as a consequence of the disaster

A range of mitigation projects were begun directly as a result of the experience of the Cyclone, including infrastructure protection, new building programmes, and special training initiatives.

Infrastructure Protection

A special focus of mitigation activity was on infrastructure protection and “lifeline” engineering. A change in policy within the Ministry of Telecommunications resulted in a directive to ensure that new towers and masts for microwave and other radio communications were designed to give higher resistance to strong winds. Some attempts were also made to strengthen existing communications towers, with extra stays, and better maintenance and repairs. Telecommunications providers were also required to build in higher levels of protection for ancillary equipment. A programme to upgrade and maintain over-ground telephone poles was started. The storm reinforced an existing trend to move away from microwave communications to fibre-optic and satellite links. New telephone exchanges were also required to have higher levels of protection against wind, debris, and flooding.

The Electricity Corporation made a few improvements, notably a new design of transmission pylon, and an upgrading of circuit-breaker equipment. Computerised control equipment in power stations and switching centres were given some extra protection, mainly by shifting them to inner rooms in the buildings. The standard for new buildings housing this equipment was improved.

Government buildings were not substantially improved. However, those Provincial Offices housing Emergency Operations Centres were given strengthened roofs and window frames, and the locations of the centres moved to upper floors.

During repairs to existing hospitals, some attempt was made to strengthen a core of inner rooms as a refuge. Roofing was strengthened (with additional nails, ties, and beam connections). Buildings housing generators, fuel, and water tanks were reinforced or reconstructed.

The design standard for new hospitals and clinics was improved somewhat, to incorporate wind resistance and a stronger complement of fittings.

The opportunity to reconstruct or reinforce wind-resistant schools was not followed through. The shape of these buildings - narrow, with long spans - presented special problems, and upgrading was (erroneously) perceived to be too expensive. An attempt was made in the national budget to add provision to upgrade the level of regular maintenance (itself a useful measure to sustain effective levels of mitigation). However, this was later quickly cut back.

Changes in Planning Laws

Within three months, the country’s legislature had approved a change in planning laws to allow planning department to set conditions for design and construction when issuing building permits. The National Homebuilding Code focused on five elements: plan shape; construction materials; roof construction (shape, materials, and fixing); walls; and windows and doors. This attempt to strengthen building codes proved to be somewhat late, and was in any case hard to enforce. Many structures were repaired or reconstructed within weeks. There was a corresponding code for industrial buildings. The impact of the legislative change was, in fact, greater on industrial plant than on domestic or public buildings. Nonetheless, it was a useful starting point, and its application was gradually extended over the next few years. A spin-off from this effort was the training programme in cyclone-resistant construction incorporated into training colleges for engineers, builders, and architects.

Training Initiatives

At the national level, the government and UNDP/UNDRO jointly sponsored a Risk Assessment and Mitigation Project, which aimed to train national and provincial planners in risk assessment and mitigation techniques. These courses paid special attention to lifeline network analysis and vulnerability assessment, within an overall economic context. Planners were taught how to assess the economic implications of disruptions to regional network systems, and how to plan large scale capital investments in ways which minimised the likelihood of such disruption. They were also shown how to monitor mitigation activities.