As he did in L’Aquila, Italy, last year and Sichuan, China, in 2008, Kit Miyamoto is in Haiti assessing structural damage and making recommendations for safe access.

Kit’s firms, Miyamoto International and Global Risk Miyamoto of West Sacramento, and the Pan American Development Foundation of Washington, D.C., have teamed up to bring critical resources and structural engineering expertise to the earthquake-devastated country. 

The team has assessed many key government buildings in Port-au-Prince, including the Financial Ministry and National Palace.

blog post photo

One of the most critical aspects of disaster response is to assess damaged facilities through an advanced structural engineering lens,” says Miyamoto. “We need to assess essential buildings for structural safety and damage severity. This is the first step toward recovery and reconstruction.”

In addition to addressing critical humanitarian needs, Miyamoto says the effort included recovering important, irreplaceable documents from collapsed Financial Ministry structures and the National Palace. Government officials called upon PADF and Miyamoto for their expertise, to successfully retrieve Haiti’s national security documents and to identify the safe buildings to occupy for governance.

As with the other two earthquake events, Miyamoto is sending direct reports from Haiti at

Here are a few excerpts from the past week:

“In the morning light, the destruction is highly visible. A refuse camp with a pile of rubbish, cars squashed under buildings with victims still inside, people digging through piles of concrete for missing family and friends with little or no tools, twisted metal and concrete is everywhere, a distant hillside slum turned into total devastation. All of these visuals are wrapped with the smell of car exhaust and death. The smell of death reminds me of past disaster sites. It is a strange, tangy, sweet smell. Once you smell it, it stays with you and lingers in your nose for many hours. Soon the morning fresh feeling slowly turns into depression….”

“This earthquake has wiped out many governmental buildings and its functionality is reduced significantly. This area is close to the ocean and therefore the soil is soft. Soft soil amplifies ground motions and higher, amplified ground motions have a destructive effect on weak buildings. These buildings are typically made of non-ductile concrete with unreinforced concrete blocks -- a lethal combination for earthquakes. I would estimate that 50% of the buildings have collapsed or are heavily damaged in this heartbroken area. We knew this was one of the most dangerously earthquake vulnerable areas in the world. If we had been able to seismically strengthen these critical structures, such as the emergency command centers, key government buildings, hospitals, schools, jails, port, airport and the UN headquarters, the post-earthquake response would be totally different. Why are we engineers failing to inform our societies again? I have seen the same exact failures at recent earthquakes in L’Aquila and Sichuan. As an engineer, it is frustrating for me to see this level of destruction….”

blog post photo