TOURGEAU, Haiti -- The Naval Facilities Engineering Command partnered with U.S. Navy Seebees, Air Force and Army engineers, Feb. 26, here to train Haitian engineers on building assessment ensuring Haitian citizens are living in structurally sound buildings.
"The work we are doing today is to systematically walk through neighborhoods assessing damage," said Vince Sobach, Joint Task Force Engineers, NAVFAC. "The primary goal is to get people back in their homes. The second part of the mission is training the local Haitian engineers. Basically we are doing a technology transfer. We are trying to both things at the same time since time is of the essence."
"A lot of the residents of Tourgeau are in one of the local internally displaced persons' camp that is very much overcrowded," said Sobach. "So we are going to sweep this neighborhood and try to decompress that camp."
"The goal today is to evaluate all the houses and structures in the neighborhood of Tourgeau for earthquake damage and get people back to safe houses or tell them is they are living in a dangerous one," said Bryan Haelsig, NAVFAC engineer.
The group of engineers walked from house to house knocking on doors, looking in and around buildings and talking to residents. All of the Haitian citizens opened their doors with no protests and confidently showed the cracks on the walls of their homes.
"We are here to do the assessments for two reasons," said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Scott A. Shaulis. "According to a United Nations poll, it is estimated that the people living in the large displaced persons' camp near the palace, about 85 percent of them are from Tourgeau."
"If we find that their homes have little to no damage from the earthquake," Shaulis said, "it is hoped that they will come home and alleviate the strain on that camp."
The long term goal, said Shaulis, "is to compile all the information that we are gathering, give it to the Haitian government and they will decide what to do from there."
Shaulis said, "This is a good and noble effort to come in and tell them 'you can feel safe going back in to that building.'"