September 13, 2007 How U.S. Engineers Helped Peru Assess
Damage From Deadly Earthquakes
San Francisco, CA

After an 8.0 earthquake struck the coast of Central Peru on Aug. 15, killing more than 600 people, two experts from the nation's leading earthquake engineering firm spent eight days helping in recovery.

Degenkolb Engineers, which specializing in the design and seismic strengthening of buildings, sent associate principal Kent Yu and design engineer Liliana Pinto to Lima, immediately after the quake. Yu and Pinto worked along with a reconnaissance team from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute of Oakland, Calif., to study the structural performance of the buildings and other engineered structures in the affected areas of Peru.

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They monitored how the buildings fared in terms of damage and mortality rates, and helped the people of Peru determine the safety of damaged buildings and whether the buildings were repairable, inhabitable, or would require demolition or reconstruction.

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"This experience has changed my perspective," Yu said. "It's helped me understand how to communicate with our clients and understand what's important to them."

During the eight-day reconnaissance trip, the engineers visited 10 cities and towns in Peru, including Lima, Canete, Chincha Alta, San Clemente, Pisco, Ica, Chincha Baja, Paracas, San Andres, and Tambo De Mora. They concentrated their efforts on the inspection of three major hospitals and several schools. The preliminary observation report provided a basic overview of structural damage.