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Degenkolb EQ Reconnaissance Team: First Day in Ecuador

We arrived in Guayaquil on Sunday evening, eight days after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit 200 km to the north.  Jay, Alvaro, and I met with the Perkins Eastman’s team of Stephen Forneris, Lance Hosey, and Pam Kurz representing New York, DC, and San Francisco.  Stephen has worked in Ecuador for 26 years and leads their Guayaquil office. 

Monday morning started with a meeting at Perkin Eastman’s office and we were introduced to the local staff.  We then set out to the Fornaza Hospital, which is operated by the Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil, a nongovernmental organization.  The Junta operates several hospitals, schools, and assisted living centers in the area.

We spent the afternoon looking at the four-story downtown headquarters of the Junta. No structural damage was observed, similar to the hospital.  The downtown area of Guayaquil did have a few buildings out of plumb, but it was business as usual.

Traveling through Guayaquil we noticed few signs of damage. One was a highway bridge collapse, which we will visit later in the week.  At this point, we are not aware of any recorded ground motions or spectra for the most populous city in the country, although a local engineer (and UT Ph.D.) Jaime told us that MMI of 5 to 6 was experienced in Guayaquil. 

Later in the afternoon, we walked through a school building. Similar to the previous sites that we visited, there was no indication of damage. This building did undergo a column retrofit in 2006, which increased the column area when they added a roof over the third floor terrace.

Vernaza hospital consists of dozens of buildings constructed as early as 1930. Typical construction for the hospital are concrete frames with masonry infill. Perkins Eastman is currently developing a master plan for updating the campus. We split into three teams to assess the damage using a newly customized Fulcrum App based on the Johns Hopkins University Health Facility Impact Survey, where we collected structural and nonstructural data. Fortunately, this facility sustained no damage and remained operational following the earthquake. Un-anchored equipment was not disrupted and items remained on storage shelves. Overall, we confirmed that the buildings are safe to occupy but are vulnerable to considerable damage if subjected to an earthquake with greater intensity. We passed along this information, as well as quick ways to improve performance (bolt the MEP equipment to the slabs). 

Tomorrow, Gordy will be flying to the epicenter with Stephen. The rest of the team including Jay and Alvaro will assess a couple more hospitals for The Junta, and will prepare a presentation for Tuesday evening to the local Chamber of Construction about the California practice of seismic safety in hospital facilities.

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Posted by onayarghandiwal on April 26, 2016 3:23 PM
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