PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti January 11, 2014 (AP)
On a steep hillside on the edge of Haiti’s capital, Pacha Jeudy slaps soupy cement onto jagged cinderblocks and stacks them into a wobbly wall. The home looks likely to collapse in a big earthquake, just as his neighbors’ houses did in the January 2010 temblor.
Less than a mile down the hill, construction workers are adding two floors to a three-story office building. The owners couldn’t be located to explain their plans for the structure, but steel reinforcing bars extending toward the sky suggest that yet another floor beyond those five is in the works.
“That building kind of gives you the willies,” said Dany Tremblay, a licensed structural engineer from Utah who has designed and inspected hundreds of buildings in Haiti since the quake. “I would be surprised that, by adding those levels, the building is still structurally sound.”
Four years later after the 7.0-magnitude quake that toppled around 190,000 buildings and killed about 300,000 people, construction practices in the Caribbean country have improved overall, with better materials being used for many larger projects. A building code now exists and many big, well-funded projects including more than a dozen hotels, supermarkets and schools are being built to international seismic standards.