Restoration of Power
Given that a tsunami hits, it is assumed that power lines will be broken, especially in those areas that are most strongly hit. Locations of electric power substations are available online1; particular power line "sore spots" are determined by the central agency. Power lines should be repaired after most debris is cleared up.
It is important to quickly restore power to the affected areas. The return of electric power to affected areas greatly assists in relief efforts, and allows for routine relief tasks to occur with maximal efficiency (e.g., restored traffic lights would assist in organized movement of relief workers/goods/materials; power returned to hospitals, clinics, or whatever is available for immediate victim healthcare would be essential for certain devices needed to keep certain victims alive).
The most sensible form of power to be used in Peru and Micronesia is hydroelectricity2. Both countries currently employ hydroelectric systems, but each would face different problems in the case of a tsunami.
In Peru, hydroelectric power is available through the tributaries of the Amazon2. Because of this, the power plants are located inland and would not be damaged by a tsunami. The only power sources that would be damaged are those near the coast, which are not hydroelectric, but run on fossil fuels. After a tsunami, destroyed fossil fuel power plants should be rebuilt further inland to reduce the risk of future tsunami damage or be replaced by hydroelectric power plants. Hydroelectric power plants would be safe from future tsunami damage, and would be much cheaper and cleaner2.
In Micronesia, hydroelectricity is harnessed through tidal variations. These plants are located right on the shore and would be significantly damaged by a tsunami. However, due to the size of the islands, there is no source of electricity that would be any safer or easier to protect from tsunami damage. Given as well that it is cheaper and cleaner than the alternatives, hydroelectricity should continue to be Micronesia's primary source of electricity.
All methods discussed below are under the assumption that the local governments have agreed to cooperate with and enforce the plans, and that financial resources are efficiently mobilized to fuel the project.
» Coastal land forms and vegetation
Tsunami can easily distort the shape of coastal shoreline and destroy poorly designed engineering structures. 3 Islands in Micronesia and coastal regions in Peru face dangers ranging from complete over-wash to local inundation. The loss of land could be a big problem especially in Micronesia. In addition, coastal vegetation and forests are often in a precarious position when tsunami hits. 3 Network of stems and roots of particular vegetations are often effective at preventing erosion and reinforcing beach sand4, and the clean-up of vast amount of dead plants could be quite extraneous.
To respond to the problem regarding land forms, a shoreline monitoring system should be established while waiting for the flood to ebb. 5 It should include information about coastal structures and the rebuilding process. A relocation plan will help temporarily moving residents of extremely endangered islands or areas to non-flooding places. To respond to the destruction of coastal vegetation, humans should leave the coastal forests undisturbed and mixed-species because such a population responds and self-corrects the best after a tsunami attack. A system called the Integrated Costal Zone Management (ICZM) 6 should be set up to minimize competing demands on the coastal region (e.g. timbering and forest protection.) Moreover, clean-up crews should not bulldoze debris into thickets of vegetation along the coast; instead, they should transport the debris to other convenient locations.
Mangroves are remarkably efficient in resisting a tsunami surge. The protection of mangroves, therefore, is essential to keep the coastal land intact. Oftentimes, mangroves are destroyed by human forces. It is essential to implement a plan that aims to protect the mangroves on the shorelines of Micronesia and Peru. The local ministries of environment and construction should introduce and enforce the protection of mangroves in corresponding regions.
» Human and Natural Barriers
A seawall or a cliff is extremely important coastal features that prevent tsunami from flooding the inland. But if the tsunami hits and damages the seawall, future waves might easily come through the hole and inundate the villages and towns behind it. It is therefore necessary to immediately fix the damage to prevent potential future disasters. If a natural barrier, a cliff, for example, is damaged by a strong wave, depending on the scale of the damage, people should decide as to fix the damage or leave it alone. If the natural barrier collapses entirely, it might be safe to relocate villagers to a host region for a period of time after the tsunami.
» Coral Reefs
Both Micronesia and Peru need a healthy marine ecosystem to keep its economy in shape; fishery, tourism, and other industries all depend on it. 7 Coral reefs are an integral part of the ecosystem, and any damage to it must be taken seriously. Tsunami will bring a tremendous amount of sand and debris to the coral reefs, and the ecosystem there and the biodiversity might well be adversely affected. 8 Actions to take against the tsunami damage to coral reefs would be to expand the coral reefs monitoring program already in existence, to take heed when exploiting marine resources in the coral reefs (e.g. fishing), and to expand the country's protected areas to the regions being hit by tsunami.
The most disastrous impact of tsunami on soil would be the deposition of salt in the topsoil. 9 In Micronesia, it is a minor problem due to the effect of washing away the salt by the continuous rain throughout the year. In Peru, however, farmers will need guidance in desalinating the topsoil with freshwater.
» Planning to Rebuild the Urban Infrastructure
The first step in rebuilding is the clearing and reconstruction of major transportation "mediums" (seaports, landing strips, major roads, railways, etc). This should be done for three reasons: first, it is necessary to free major transportation lines to allow citizens to travel freely, at least to important areas (which areas are important is to be decided by the agency). Second, major transportation lines should be open to allow for free and easy transportation of resources in and out of the disaster area. Third, many other aspects of reconstruction rely directly on the ability to move large machinery from one place to another. Again, as with debris removal, this does not mean rebuilding every road. Roads not immediately necessary for reconstruction should be left until other, more pressing, tasks are accomplished.
With 72,900 km of roads in Peru10
, roads are the most important means of transportation. Peru's railways are also important as they can prove extremely useful. According to the Thailand Development Research Institute Quarterly Review
, "In fuel efficiency, rail transport is much superior to road transport," 11
which means it would allow for cheaper transport of materials to the affected areas. In addition, the railways connect coastal Peru to inner Peru, providing an important route for the transportation of resources from inner Peru to the coast for use in the reconstruction as well as for export to get the economy back on track. Ports are also extremely essential, as Peru relies heavily on exports to fuel its economy.
In Micronesia, prioritizing transportation is much more complicated. Roads are the main form of intra-island travel. This presents more of a challenge in Micronesia than in Peru, as there is not simply one large main highway. Due to the small size of the islands, many of the main roads on these islands are on the scale of secondary roads in Peru in terms of traffic, but are extremely important in terms of their use. As a result, reconstructing the main roads of Micronesia would mean reconstructing more roads than in Peru. For inter-island transportation, seaports are extremely important for their economic uses as well as for transporting extremely large loads. Airports, however, are also extremely important, because they significantly reduce transport time, which is especially important in times of disaster.
Furthermore, the different capabilities of the islands make it even more impossible to prioritize one form of transportation over another. Some islands are much smaller in size and cannot accommodate large planes. Fixing the main mediums of transportation in Micronesia means fixing all means of transportation.
Buildings are the next priority. Buildings that are significantly damaged can lead to unnecessary post-disaster deaths. Buildings that are unsafe should be barricaded until the building can be repaired. This phase will require the largest number of skilled workers and will also take the most time. Each individual building will need to be repaired or reconstructed. The most feasible way to handle this would be for the central agency to take bids from various reliable construction companies and grant the repair/reconstruction contracts to the lowest bidder.
When building reconstruction occurs, it will be advised that buildings be designed in ways that would make them less vulnerable to future damage from tsunamis. Possible design considerations include:
i) having the bottom floor of some buildings with an "open" structure. This means that the bottom floor would have no walls, and would be little more than a set of pillars supporting the other floors of the building. This structure allows water to freely flow through the first floor of the building. After the December 26 tsunami, among the only structures that weren't destroyed were mosques, many of which have first floors with the open structure- this suggests that the open structure for the first floor is very good for tsunami-resistant buildings.
ii) positioning some buildings so that their walls do not run parallel to the coast, but rather are diagonal with respect to the coast. Then, if tsunami water were to charge into land, the walls of buildings would not be hit with full force, but rather the force would be diverted by the building's two walls nearest the coast (see figure below).
iii) MIT's SENSEable City Lab has a design project called "tsunami safe(r) house", and can be researched at http://senseable.mit.edu/tsunami-prajnopaya/. If a tsunami were to destroy buildings, it would be useful to have building contractors build some, if not many, buildings according to the design specifications of the "tsunami safe(r) house".
For privately owned buildings and homes, the government should provide an assistance program that would help people in financial difficulty rebuild. This assistance program would grant tax benefits to hardware and construction companies that agree to reduce their prices so that more people could afford them. Another aspect of this would be the allocation of funds to individual families. A family could request financial assistance by filling out a form that lists the damages their property incurred. Based on this damage report and financial status, families would be granted an amount of money to assist in the reconstruction of their home.
Secondary transportation means are the last step of the process. It is important that other roads and such are repaired to restore the damaged areas back to their original state (or better).
» Possible Building Materials
Several types of building materials were studied, and their strengths and weaknesses were compared. It was concluded that there is not simply one material that is best for rebuilding- different buildings call for different materials. Below is a chart showing the pros, cons, and relative costs of the materials considered most usable.
**Note: this data was taken from Gecko Stone, a construction company in Hawaii specializing in lightweight composite concrete12
Returning to Homes
All evacuees are to remain in evacuation sites until all danger of a tsunami has passed. The evacuation camp official will be notified of areas that are safe to return after damage assessment has been made. This information will be announced to the evacuees. Those whose homes were not affected by the tsunami are encouraged to return. 132 If their home is deemed unsafe and uninhabitable, citizens are to continue living in the evacuation sites.
1. Mapas. (2005). Electricidad. Retrieved 2005 November 17
2. Comparisons of Various Energy Sources. (2005). The Virtual Nuclear Tourist. Retrieved 2005 October 30 From.
3.Geology 33:145, Kench, P. et al., 2005, New Model of Reef Island Evolution: Maldives, Indian Ocean
4.Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment, Republic of Maldives, Kench,
P., 2001, Coastal Erosion and Management Assessment - in support of the Climate Change Enabling Activity Project
5. United Nations Environment Programme, 2005, Key Principles to Guide the Reconstruction
of Coastlines Affected by the Tsunami
6. Falkland, T., 2001, Report on Integrated Water Resources Management and Sustainable Sanitation
on Four Islands, Republic of Maldives
7. Wall Street Journal, 21 June 2005, Mapes, T., Tourism Slumps in Tsunami Area
8. Government of Australia and Maldives Marine Research Centre, 2005, An Assessment
of Damage to Maldivian Coral Reefs and Baitfish Populations from the Indian Ocean Tsunami
9. Energy Consulting Network, ApS, 2004, Biomass Survey
10. Peru. (2005).The CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 2005 October 30.
11. Johnson, A. (1993). Strengths and Weaknesses of Railway Transport. Thailand Development Research Institute Quarterly Review [Online Edition]. 2005 October 30.
12. August, J. (2000). GeckoStoneŽ. Retrieved 2005 November 15, 2005
13. Sphere Project (2004) Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response. Sphere Project 2004, Geneva, Switzerland.