In California, wildfire, flood, and earthquakes are natural hazards that can and do result in disaster. The worldwide threat of terrorism must now be added to the list. In the aftermath of disasters, search and rescue, safety evaluation, damage assessment, and recovery, all depend on the unique skills and expertise of architects.

Disaster preparedness is, in many ways, part of everyday life for every architect, and part of the institutional life of the AIA at every level. Awareness of the hazards and stresses to which the built environment is subjected affects every decision we make on every project we design. As advocates for our clients, and for the public, we are involved in local, state, and federal activities that affect the public’s health and safety through the built environment.

The truth is disaster will strike. Californians know where the un-reinforced schools are, where soil can liquefy and plates shift. We see where the man-made environment touches the natural environment. Weather forecasts provide advance notice on the combination of high winds and hot weather that seem to spontaneously combust, as well as warm ocean surface temperatures, which cause down days of steady rain.