As a country where French is one of the official languages, Canada has an advantage over other countries in providing post-disaster aid to Haiti, said one of the world’s leading experts in natural disasters and organizational response.

“Our personnel can operate using the language of the people, which is a real asset,” Joe Scanlon, a professor emeritus at Carleton University who has published more than 200 articles in his 40 years of disaster research, said yesterday.

In helping other countries, “Canada does pretty well as a whole,” Scanlon said.

The earthquake in Haiti was a “moderate to intense earthquake,” said Brian Cousens, associate professor with the department of earth sciences at Carleton.

Since the earthquake was so severe, it may have not only caused damage to buildings, but to water and gas mains, telephone equipment, roadways and railroads, he said. “It can take decades to repair the damage,” Cousens said.

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