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Earthquake in Haiti: Rebuilding at the Epicenter - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Earthquake in Haiti: Rebuilding at the Epicenter

Posted: Updated: Jan 12, 2011 03:57 PM EST
Over 3,200 structures in Leogane were damaged in the quake. Over 3,200 structures in Leogane were damaged in the quake.
BGF members erect a piece of a ti kay they hope will provide some of the housing needed in Haiti. BGF members erect a piece of a ti kay they hope will provide some of the housing needed in Haiti.

In part 1 of his special report, Earthquake in Haiti: One Year Later, NBC29's Henry Graff showed you what life was like in Port-au-Prince one year after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. In part 2, he travels to the epicenter of the quake to see how rebuilding efforts are going:

Whether it is a school, a church, or a home, Charlottesville's Building Goodness Foundation (BGF) has one mission: to build. One year after the earthquake, BGF is trying to get a new housing initiative off the ground in Haiti.

At the epicenter of last January's 7.0 earthquake in Haiti is the town of Leogane. The bustling area, about the size of Charlottesville, was leveled; 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed.

"In my zone we do not have a hospital," said Jean Louisnet, who lives in Leogane. "We do not have water. We have nothing."

The numbers in Leogane are astonishing: 3,200 structures were damaged in the earthquake and that does not include government buildings, churches and schools. Now the question is whether to repair or replace the infrastructure and exactly how to go about doing that.

Construction work is getting underway. This month, groups from around the world have converged on Leogane for a housing conference.

"The idea with this is that we can get them up a lot more quickly and that's really important," said BGF board member John Diven.

BGF constructed a small house to show others what can be done. Called a ti kay from the Creole word for a small home, the building provides a Haitian family with the sheltering essentials, four walls and a roof.

"We're networking, we're looking for other partnerships and we're already making good connections to facilitate our model," stated BGF Executive Director Kelly Eplee.

Other groups demonstrated their earthquake resistant building techniques as well, including a foam block house that is currently being built in Leogane.

"People really need to take a step back and develop programs that are going to help use the materials that are already in country and techniques in country and help advance those," explained Jason Stowell of the Delaney Bay Fund and a organizer of the housing conference.

But surely progress is being made in the third world country. International relief efforts, from rubble cleanup to new housing, are reaching people outside of Port-au-Prince where there is a different attitude and outlook on life.

"You move things by inches [in Haiti] but the deep appreciation and wonderful joy that people get out of that is great to see," said Haiti Fund Executive Director John Winings.

BGF is hoping the mass production of the ti kay will start soon. Whether that is weeks or months away will be determined on when the materials needed to build get to Haiti.

In part III of the series, NBC29's Henry Graff takes a look at the problems Haitians face everyday and, believe it or not, some of them are similar to problems Americans are facing.

Reported by Henry Graff
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