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October 21, 2010 8:10 AM CDT

Opportunities to Help in Haiti


Michael J. King, SE, is providing a helping hand in Haiti.

Michael J. King, SE, is providing a helping hand in Haiti.
Michael J. King, SE, is a California-based project manager at Miyamoto International, Inc., a structural and earthquake engineer company, who is working in Haiti on a plan to repair and rehabilitate structures following the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. King says he and his company were tasked by Pan American Development Foundation (PADFO), UNOPS and World Bank to develop a repair guide.

“The buildings here are unreinforced concrete masonry with concrete decks and columns,” says King. “There are over 100,000 heavily damaged buildings that we are working to repair and do a more reinforced masonry design.”

The construction is of concrete columns with concrete decks (column about 4M on center), with hollow concrete masonry for infill (un-grouted and un-reinforced). The deficiencies that were identified were quality of blocks, concrete, mortar, and installation with regard to cover for reinforcement, tie details, hooks and just reinforcement – placement as well as mortar joints.

King also emphasizes the important of education and training in the repair and rehabilitation of Haitian structures. “We are creating the building quality control process and also training masons,” he says. “Training will be quick discussion of structural systems so they understand what earthquakes and cyclones do, and then to properties of masonry and effects of good practices of mortar, curing, proper proportions and materials and also hands on making blocks, mixing mortar, setting blocks with reinforcing and grouting.

“Our idea is to hold the training at a home needing repair and at the end have fixed the house,” King continues, “and continue the training as we go. We train the trainers, so when we leave, the Haitians go forward down the right path teaching each other.

The guide was to be finished in June with repairs beginning July 1, and repair of 3,000 homes completed by Sept. 1 – an ambitious timeline indeed.

King believed they did not have to reinvent the training that other people already do but, rather, adapt it for Haiti. He asked for assistance from the CMACN in the way of any available training guides. Then he reached out to mason contractors and leaders in the masonry industry to collect existing Reinforced Masonry Design Guides to help teach local engineers.

A request went out to the masonry community for basic masons’ tools for 200 masons, and the industry was quick to respond. The project is under the development of PADF, so any assistance is tax deductable under a 501(C)3. But, those helping have committed to being part of an ambitious project to change the design and construction of the buildings of Haiti.

For more information or to get involved, contact Michael King at

Originally published in Masonry magazine.

About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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