Hurricane George 1998 - Dominican Republic

Three weeks after Hurricane George ravaged the Dominican Republic in September 1998, EcoSouth colleagues from Ecuador and Honduras visited houses built with EcoMaterials and encountered the great majority in good condition.

The housing projects were built after Hurricane David ravaged the Dominican Republic in 1979 and used technologies and materials that could resist the recurring natural calamities. Since 1980 Grupo Sofonias had built around 300 houses and reconstructed some 600 with local participation and labor, and has educated many masons and rural builders.

The houses had no major problems and, according to some inhabitants, they did not feel anything during the hurricane. The few tiles which did fly away was because they had not been fastened to the wooden understructure

It is interesting to note that the same hurricane and floods that destroyed thousands of homes and took hundreds of lives in the Dominican Republic, caused little damage and no loss of life in the neighboring island of Cuba.

The technologies were determined by the availability of raw materials: foundations of rocks and low grade concrete (cyclop concrete), walls of cyclop concrete, adobe or fired bricks, and roofs with Micro Concrete Roofing tiles (MCR)  or brick vaults. All technologies were new to the villagers; traditional construction used palm boards for walls and thatch or zinc sheets for roofing.  An intensive education program for future masons was always the base for action.

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In 2005, SofoNic has started a dual education program for masons in Nicaragua, using its house-building programs as a base. Teaming up with the local technical school in Jinotepe they are graduating about ten masons every year since. Most f them have found jobs in construction or have started a business on their own. SofoNic has contracted several of them as master masons in the reconstruction programs in Haiti.