Hi my Steemit friends. I'm writing my first post in 10 months. Imagine that! It's been that long. Anyway, I hope to be back on a regular basis now that I have some free time at nights.
To reactivate my desire to write, I needed a topic to share that would not only be interesting but be of importance as well. But nothing came to mind these past weeks so I just laid low and bided my time until the right one would come along. Finally, something did come up. A natural phenomenon that struck our city in the last month. Earthquake! In the evening of October 16th we were hit with an intensity 6.4 earthquake. The ground shook so badly that all of us inside our house ran outside for fear that the house may collapse or cave in from the shaking. Immediately after that the city mayor suspended classes on all levels for the next day, October 17th, in order that the schools can check the extent of any damages to their structures that would endanger the students' lives. Aftershocks continued to be felt but with lesser intensities, which is quite normal after a big one. Fortunately, no casualties or major damages were reported in our city.
Life went on normally for almost 2 weeks and the incident of the 16th had started to be a faded memory. But, in the morning of October 29th, another intensity 6.6 hit the city, sending everyone out of their houses, their offices, their apartments and condominiums. This was beginning to be a little bit scary as 2 quakes of almost the same intensities within two weeks of each other was unheard of in our place. A lot of people began talking end times and armageddon. Again, our city mayor suspended all classes and ordered the inspection of all school buildings and also other residential and commercial structures for any damages. Again, no casualties or major damages were reported, to the relief of everyone. While this recent earthquake was still fresh in our minds and people still talked about it in their conversational topics, another intensity 6.5 earthquake hit the city in the morning of October 31st, just two days after the last one. Everyone began running out to the streets, avoiding tall buildings in case these collapse and fall down on them. This time, the worst case happened. Although there were no casualties, one of the two buildings of a prominent landmark in our city, the very first condominium ever built in the city, Ecoland 4000, collapsed and caved in.
It is a 5 storey condominium with the parking lot as the first floor. Fortunately, most of the residents had already vacated the place as the earthquakes of the 16th and 29th had caused damages and cracks on the walls and pillars that they did not feel safe anymore staying in the place. This despite a structural engineer's (from the office of the construction company that built it) assurance to the residents that the condominium was structurally safe and can withstand a 7.4 intensity earthquake. Fortunately, most of the unit owners did not believe him and opted to leave the place. Which turned out to be the right decision and no sooner at that. The next day, the building caved in. See more photos below.
This is the main facade of the building.
This is the side of the building. Notice how the second floor now sits on the first floor which used to be the parking lot.
The collapsed building is one of two identical structures within the compound. The one on the right, the Osaka Building, is relatively intact with no noticeable damages. Please note the parking lot in the second building and what happened to the parking lot of the first.
As of this writing, Ecoland 4000 has been completely shut down and evacuated. Even the Osaka Building which is still intact have been closed with the unit owners advised to seek residence someplace else until further notice. No one is allowed to bring out anything from the place pending the results of the investigation by the city engineer's office. And this could take a long time. Which brings me to the second and more important matter of this post. You see, if memory serves me right, this is the very first time that a condominium has collapsed, and to my layman's opinion, laid to total loss. I don't see any manner by which this building can be repaired or rehabilitated. Consequently, how does a unit owner get compensated for their loss?
Condominiums are sprouting like daisies in this city. It's the "in" thing now as far as real estate investments go. People are pouring in their hard earned money into condo units, hoping that the values of these will increase over time and they can realize a healthy return on investments. A lot of condo owners are also leasing their units thereby earning rental income as well. Now with this situation, how do condo unit owners protect themselves from such natural calamities? Imagine if the big one really comes and damages multiple condominiums how are the unit owners going to be compensated by their condo associations? Is there a way that these unit owners can minimize their losses in the event of similar catastrophic events?
Here are a few things I can recommend to condo unit owners in the wake of this disaster:
Get insurance coverage for your unit to cover the contents such as appliances, electrical equipment, furnitures and fixtures. Looking at the pictures above, I do not think recovery of any of the contents is possible anymore, especially for those unit owners in the second and third floors. Now normally a condo unit insurance can either be protection against fire and lightning only or against fire and lightning and allied perils such as typhoons, earthquakes, water tank blow ups or leakages, and even aviation disaster such as when an airplane crashes on your condominium. I am willing to bet that only a handful of the unit owners have condo insurance. I specifically metioned insurance for contents only because the insurance for the structure and the building is different and is usually taken out by the condominium association.
As a condo unit owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance coverage for the building where your unit belongs is adequate and reflects the replacement value of the building in the event of a total loss such as Ecoland 4000. This ensures that a rebuild decision can be easily passed by the association and your unit is replaced after the reconstruction. If it so happens that your building is underinsured, then even full payment of the sum insured cannot be sufficient to rebuild. In this case, you may just be paid by the association on a pro-rata basis and you do not recover your cost or investment.
Be vigilant and demand a maintenance report from the Property Management Office everytime there are natural experiences, such as earthquakes (even mild ones). I can only conclude that Ecoland 4000 was not brought down by just that one big quake. It was a series of tremors that eventually soften its foundation and caused it to cave in when the big one came.
All for now. More on this to come. Glad to be back.
(NOTE): All photos are mine.