Poor quality construction couldn't have stood up to quake says a local resident who went to Haiti on an aid mission.

Traditional construction practices may have contributed to the destructive power of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti, says a Rowley, Mass., resident who documented an aid mission to Haiti in 2001.


Robert Branch, a former photographer for Community Newspaper Company, accompanied Partners in Development Inc. volunteers to Haiti and photographed the workers as they built homes and introduced new, stronger construction methods to the nation.


Partners in Development Inc. is an Ipswich-based aid organization that has been providing aid to Haiti for 20 years, including providing small-business development loans, running a health clinic and supporting a child-sponsor program.


Branch explained almost all the buildings in the island nation are made from cinderblock or are simply shacks made from corrugated tin scraps.


“It would be impossible for these shacks to stand up to the earthquake,” Branch said.


Traditional cinder construction methods in Haiti stack the blocks one on top of the other, without reinforcing the concrete in the seams between the blocks.


Buildings then have larger blocks at the corners, reinforced with four iron bars running up the corner.


The Partners in Development volunteers inserted lengths of quarter-inch thick steel bars into the concrete between the blocks and between the layers to reinforce the concrete and make the building stronger.


“I’m not an architect, but my guess is the Partners in Development homes would stand up better. But a 7.0 earthquake might knock everything down anyway,” Branch said.


Reports out of Haiti say the presidential palace and the United Nations headquarters were leveled in the quake.


“If I were to go down there, the first thing I’d do is check and see of the Partners in Development houses held up,” Branch said.


Melrose Free Press