We are continuously reminded of the vulnerabilities of our cities in the face of extreme events. The consecutive events in the past few weeks are especially strong reminders that the PEER community has the capacity to proactively work towards resiliency of our cities in the face of natural hazards before they turn into disasters.
These extreme events started mid-August with the catastrophic hurricane and flood disaster of Harvey affecting southeast Texas. This was followed by Hurricane Irma affecting south Florida, Hurricane Jose affecting Barbuda, and now Hurricane Maria currently affecting Puerto Rico. On September 7, we saw the impact of strong ground shaking on non-engineered buildings with the M8.1 Chiapas earthquake in the Gulf of Tehuantepec off the southern coast of Mexico. Yesterday on September 19, Central Mexico was hit with a devastating M7.1 earthquake with epicenter 75 miles southeast of Mexico City. As of this morning, reports indicate more than 200 people lost their lives and more than 40 buildings collapsed, including a primary school.
At PEER, we are very saddened by these events causing deaths, human suffering and infrastructure damage. We have been in communication with our wind engineering colleagues since the advent of Hurricane Harvey, and have conducted an “info-hub” conference call with our engineering and research colleagues after the M8.1 Chiapas earthquake. We are communicating with our friends in UNAM to coordinate earthquake reconnaissance efforts that will take place by PEER researchers in collaboration with other organizations. Periodic postings will be placed on our earthquake briefings page at http://peer.berkeley.edu/publications/earthquake_recon_reports.html
We wish safety and security to everybody in regions affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, and other forms of hazards.
-Khalid Mosalam, PEER Director