After six trips taken to Nargis destroyed villages in the coastal regions of Ayeyawaddy (Irrawaddy) Delta, a venerable Burmese Abbott resided in Fremont, CA, prepared a suggestion of a multipurpose cyclone shelter building. The author assisted him in making of an illustration of the suggested structure of the building using Google SketchUp.
The Joint ASEAN-UN report released on July 21, 2008 estimated that the Cyclone Nagis killed 84,500 people with additional 53,836 still missing. Most affected townships were Ngaputaw, Labutta, Mawlamyainegyun, Bogale, Pyapon, Kyaiklatt and Dedaye. It also estimated that 95% of structures were wiped out in Hainggyikun, an island facing the ocean. Their assessment indicated that most of the 450,000 damaged houses were destroyed. Destruction of buildings in the cyclone path was higher due to the structure of the houses which are traditionally built of wood and bamboo with wooden or bamboo floors on stilts.
With collaborated efforts, houses have been built for the cyclone victims with meager resources, as a result, more small and lesser stabled bamboo houses have been built. The Joint ASEAN-UN report confirms that the new houses were built with wood/thatch materials, bamboo mats and bamboo structures on wooden silts, and were not properly constructed even for traditional houses, not strong enough for anti-cyclone protection.
The buildings in the picture above were sponsored by a monastery for the rebuilding of the village. The buildings are fairly constructed in a traditional building materials. However, the homes would not be disaster –resistant.
A venerable Buddhist monk (Abbott) who resided in San Francisco Bay area took six relief missions at various villages in Nguputaw, Labutta, Bogale and Kyungyangon townships during May through July 2008. He was informed by the victims that the storm surge was as high as 5’ to 15’ depending on the location of the village such as ocean front, river mouth/bank, inlets, or creeks. Based on his interviews with the survivors who lived in the villages during the storm, some survived by climbing up on the coconut trees and hanged in there while the others escaped drowning by climbing up onto the ceiling of sturdy buildings such as cemented monastic structures in the monasteries.
During the housing recovery period, the buildings have been hastily constructed to repatriate the refugees from the camps and temporary shelters to their former sites of their villages which have been wiped out by the cyclone. Due to the limited resources, the suggestions made so far, in the Joint ASEAN-UN report emphasizes on construction of the houses with disaster-resistant means and methods. It also suggests roughly that construction of safe havens and accessible cyclone shelters in all villages, as flood measures for risk reduction.
Conceptual Design of a Multipurpose Community Cyclone Shelter (MCCS)
Scientists have been debating on the probabilities of having another cyclones moving along the same path. At least, one of the theories has emerged as a possibility of cyclone paths similar to Nargis could occur again due to the global warming phenomenon that the originated (birth place) ocean region of the cyclones becomes larger, and situates further in the south triggering the cyclone to veer more towards Burmese shores in the future. Regardless, more storms of various sizes with furies will most likely reoccur and come ashore on Burma’s delta areas again, sooner or later. Thus, more lives are at risk.
In reality, the villages are all built on flat surface in the flood plain delta regions. Under the circumstances, the newly built structures (houses) in the villages are the best built homes for the villagers and families can ever get. Obviously, the houses may be able to survive a regular flooding, but not strong enough against flooded water from a storm surge from the rivers and/or the ocean. When the 50 to 100 miles per hour of winds occur during a storm, the houses, or huts will be easily demolished.
Obviously, there are needs for a structure. Therefore, a conceptual design of a multipurpose community cyclone shelter was addressed as follows:
·o a structure that will be resistant to a fury of wind and surge water during a cyclone
o o allowable for 300-500 people from the villages within the radius of one to two miles from the shelter
·o the surface ground will be raised with earth at and around the site of the shelter building
·o a concrete building sufficiently large enough and elevated two stories off the ground on concrete stilts, and also encased in concrete
·o a makeshift school (class rooms) on the lower level with the floor about three feet above the ground during the off cyclone or high sea events. During the storm surge, this level is with empty, air flow-through space that waves will pass through this floor. That’s why this level is not for human shelter. Some daft animals could probably be kept for shelter. A stairway will be installed from the first floor to the second floor.
·o the second floor will house three half-rooms that could be used for a makeshift library, a makeshift clinic and a makeshift guest room. This cemented floor is 18’ above the neighboring flat grounds. There will be handrails installed around the inner edges of the floor cemented on the floor. A stairway will be installed from the second floor to the roof top.
·o a concrete flat roof top will be installed with handrails surrounding the roof along the inner edges. People may laid down on the flow and take shelter by holding onto the rails.
o two bathrooms will be installed on each of the first and second floor.
The Construction of a Multipurpose Community Cyclone Shelter (MCCS)
The following tasks will be required in the construction of suggested Multipurpose Community Cyclone Shelter (MCCS):
Construction of a raised ground -- Manual raising of ground above the surrounding level (excavation of soil from other area for some purposes such as drains or ponds), and transferring soil to the selected shelter site. Packing of soil will be needed. The ground raising task has to be carried out during the dry season. (raised ground = 3’x50’x100’)
General components of the building –
o The raised ground is 3’ above the surrounding ground level.
o The base of the structure is 25’ x 65’ which will be installed with handrails (verandas).
o Handrails will be cemented to the Roof top, Second floor, and part of the First floor.
o The cement first floor will be 3’ above the level of raised ground level.
o The height of the first level is 15’. Except for the pillars which holds the upper level, the lower level structure is going to be a hall that can be partitions as needed for makeshift class rooms. Space for a bathroom and a stairway will be placed on the left-side of the building.
o The height of the second level needs 10’. Total floor-space for the compartments is 21’ x 61’ out of 25’ x 65’ concrete floor space. Constructions will be made for a bathroom, a stair-way, and three half-rooms. There will be handrails (verandas) around the edges of the floor.
o The roof should be a concrete flat roof, with its floor-space 25’ x 65’. There will be handrails (verandas) installed around the edges.
Foundation and pillars of the building – All materials will be used with iron and concrete.
Transportation of building materials -- Materials for the building will be purchased from the cities via trucks (if along the road) and/or by boats. When a village is located by a small creek, larger boats become un-useable. Some draft animals such as buffalos and human labor will be necessary to move the building materials , especially iron rods, bars, wood and cements.
Construction of walls, floors, and roof -- All materials will be used with iron and concrete.
Construction of Bathrooms for both levels – Bathrooms would be placed on the left end of the building with toilets installed.
Construction of Stairways -- Two stairways will be installed. On from the ground floor to the second floor; and from the second floor to the roof.
Second floor half-rooms-- Three rooms will be made on the second floor. Each room will have one window with lights and fans as available.
Construction of Handrails (Verandas) – Rails will be installed around the inner edges of each floors (part of first floor, a full 2nd floor, and the roof).
Designed and constructed will most appropriately meeting the Burmese cultural values. The MCCS structure will save lives up to 500 poor villagers and families. This MCCS Center will be a safe haven for the villages around a radius of two miles from site in the event of a cyclone or a disaster. The structure will be made available for the pre-school to elementary level of schoolings for the children in the village communities. The lower level of the structure will also serve as an assembly hall for community affairs such as meetings, festivities, and cultural/religious activities. A library will be serving not only for the children but also for adults. Another room on the second floor will be used for clinic when the regional or local mobile medical personnel are routing through the village. During the construction of this structure, many of the villagers will gain an honest employment, and also gain an additional training skill in the construction work.
Based on the Ven. Abbott’s experience of a village that was totally destroyed by Cyclone Nargis, and those villagers who had been in the livelihood of paddy cultivation, salt farming, and fisheries, the following villages have been recommended (in order of priority) for the installation of a MCCS structures:
1. Auk-Pyun-Wa village in Ngaputaw Township
2.Sin-chay-ywa village in Ngaputaw Township
3.Pyin-Sa-lu village in Labutta Township
4. Na-Lin-Gyaw-Ywa village in Labutta Township
5.Kwat-Ye-Kan-Kyaung village in Pyapon Township
6.Taw-Paung-Sein-Ywa in Dedaye Township
7.Let-Kote-Kon village in Kyungyangon Township
As suggested by the Abbott on the structure of this shelter, the author attempted to illustrate the design of it using Google’s SketchUp program.