Monday, December 6, 2010


Add Video
Up at five am to the sound of many roosters. It's a nice time of the day. David headed to the kitchen to help with the Monday morning ritual, a pancake breakfast. Making pancakes for 80 people is quite a chore but we had a whole team at work.

Off to work . . .

There are about 70 volunteers here and not as many jobs as usual, so it's hard to get a place on the team you prefer. We had hoped to work on building bio-sand water filters but ended up doing rubble removal instead.

The house site is about a half mile from our base, out in former sugar cane fields. It was a one story house about 1600 square feet in size, now completely pancaked. The heavy cement roof-- about 8 inches thick-- was supported by pitifully small columns, not tied in properly and with no cross-bracing.

The rubble team had already spent three days sledging the roof to pieces by hand. Our job was to dig out the buried cement beams and posts and break them up, removing the rebar for re-use (not advisable) or for scrap. Unfortunately, the extremely poor quality of the cement mix helped cause the collapse in the earthquake. It's some of the worst we've encountered in our many eartquake rubbling trips around the world. But it does make it easier for us to break up.

First the posts must be exposed enough from the rubble so that a sledge can be used. Then the broken bits have to be removed. The wires tying the rebar have to be snipped and sometimes the rebar has to be cut, not an easy task. We do have a monster fingernail clipper that will cut through rebar but you can barely lift it.

In the afternoon, one of our two Bobcat bucket loaders came out to the site and managed to get up onto the concrete slab and start clearing some serious amount of rubble. They were able to do in an afternoon what would have taken our ten person team several days. The next day, the site was serviced by the Bobcat and just 3 volunteers to do the manual stuff like cutting rebar. The clearing was finished by the end of the day.

1 comment: