Learn how others reduced and prevented damage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Below you will find a sampling of Best Practices
Getting the Alarm Out: USM's Tornado Warning System
- The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) recognized the need for a campus-wide tornado warning system.
- During Hurricane Katrina, approximately 1,800 students remained sheltered on USM’s campus.
- The radio-controlled warning system has two components: 1) an alarm characterized by Westminster Chimes and 2) a voice system which announces, “A tornado warning has been issued for the Hattiesburg area. Please seek shelter.”
Diamondhead Home: A Mitigation Blueprint
- The couple consulted the FEMA publication “Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction” when building their home.
- Mitigation measures kept the home safe when Hurricane Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast with 135-mile per hour winds.
- Reinforced laminated beams along the ceiling enhance the home’s structural integrity and increase the roof’s anchoring capability.
- The couple exceeded minimum building codes when anchoring the house to its slab-on-grade foundation.
- Windows are installed with manual wooden shutters.
- There is a safe room in the middle of the house, stocked with emergency essentials.
House Built to Code Survives Katrina
- To help make it storm-resistant, the homeowners built their house to the 2003 International Residential Code.
- The home was built to withstand minimum wind gusts of 130 miles per hour.
- All structural elements are tied to the earth in a continuous path.
- The first floor flooded during Hurricane Katrina but the family was able to make repairs and move back into their home.
Mitigation Helps Senior Center Survive Katrina
- The Hancock County Senior Center was retrofitted with storm shutters in 1999 after an assessment determined that high winds could blow out its glass windows and doors.
- The project was partially funded by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
- Less than an inch of water came under the doors of the center, while nearby structures were devastated by the storm surge.
- After Hurricane Katrina, the center eventually housed more than 200 people and operated as a shelter for 88 days.
Concrete House Stands up to Katrina
- The homeowner used his structural engineering knowledge and conducted extensive research into housing in hurricane-prone areas when designing and constructing his new home.
- The house is mitigated to withstand hurricanes.
- It is built out of concrete, elevated above the Base Flood Elevation and constructed to withstand wind speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
- The new house was under construction when Katrina hit and survived the storm.
Mitigation Efforts "Shut Out" Katrina
- More than 200 city, state and county emergency officials, Mississippi National Guardsmen, Navy Seabees and rescue workers took shelter and conducted 24-hour operations in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Gulfport during Hurricane Katrina.
- The EOC was retrofitted for metal storm shutters in 2003 using Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds, after an assessment revealed that high winds could blow out the glass windows and doors of the facility.
- Originally constructed as a civil defense facility, concrete was used for the building’s frame, roof and exterior walls and it was built to withstand high wind events.
- The facility’s first floor sits at an elevation of just over 26 feet, which prevented floodwater from entering the EOC.
Pass Christian House Stands Strong Against Hurricane Katrina
- After suffering repetitive hurricane damage, a Pass Christian couple was determined to rebuild their house to withstand future hurricanes and floods.
- In 2003, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency approved the homeowners’ plans for a Modified Elevation Retrofit, where an old house is demolished and a new mitigated house is built in its place.
- The new house is elevated to 13.1 feet above mean sea level.
- The house was also built to withstand high winds. It has a strong foundation and a metal roof with hurricane straps securing it to the support beams on the sides of the house.
- The home is a model for mitigation along the Gulf Coast. It was built well and the couple wisely used a flood insurance claim and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds to reduce their construction costs.
- The mitigated house was one of the few still standing in the couple's devastated neighborhood after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Elevating a Brick Home: A Mitigation Success Story
- The homeowners received $92,000 from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to elevate their brick house.
- They had flood insurance but decided to elevate after several floods damaged their home and personal belongings.
- They have not suffered any flood damages to their home since the elevation, not even when Hurricane Katrina’s massive storm surges hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005.
- The first floor of the house is elevated ten feet above the original slab-on-grade foundation and sits on an open concrete column system with embedded anchor plates for added structural support.
- The open space below the house is used for storage, a parking area and building access.
Waterfront High-Rise Survives Katrina
- The survival of the Legacy Towers condos during Hurricane Katrina was primarily attributed to the structure’s break-away walls, windows and doors designed to wash away during high wind and water events.
- These ground-level-only measures are intended to protect the building from structural loads associated with fast-moving water and water-borne debris.
- The breakaway walls on the first floor successfully performed their task by releasing outward from the foundation, thereby allowing water and wind to flow freely through the structure and preventing damage to the 13 remaining upper floors of the building.
- The 14-story building was one of only a few inhabitable buildings standing along the Mississippi Gulf Coast after the storm.
- Legacy Towers’ survival has played a key role in the rebuilding process on the Gulf Coast. The Legacy was one of only a few places able to offer housing to construction and emergency workers immediately after Katrina.
View From the Top: An Elevation Story
- The homeowners used a $50,000 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program grant and personal funds to elevate their home to mitigate flooding, after experiencing several flood events.
- The house received three feet of water during Hurricane Katrina but the couple was grateful that they did not get the 11 and a half feet they would have if they had not elevated their property.
- The homeowner noted that his pole house has a level of strength that rises from the slab all the way to the metal roof.
Elevated House Attracts Local Attention
- The couple’s house was the only one in their Gulf Coast community that was not elevated.
- They decided to elevate their home using HMGP and personal funds.
- The couple elevated their home 11 feet 11 inches above the original slab-on-grade foundation on an open concrete column system with embedded anchor plates for added structural support.
- They also replaced the original shingle roof with a metal roof and installed windows with wind-resistant glass rated to withstand gusts of up to 175 mile per hour.
- The couple's home received minor wind and water damage from the storm surge during Hurricane Katrina but remained intact and inhabitable.
Storm Shutters Create Feeling of Security
- Biloxi homeowner installed manual roll-down aluminum storm shutters and removable aluminum storm panels prior to Hurricane Katrina.
- The panels and shutters protected the windows and doors of the home from hurricane damage that could have let water, wind and debris inside.
- The homeowner paid for these mitigation techniques with personal funds, asserts that they have paid for themselves.
Only House Left Standing: Building Code Saves House
- This house was the only one on Wiggins Street in Pascagoula, Mississippi, that remained standing after Hurricane Katrina hit.
- After experiencing flooding from Hurricanes Frederick, Elena and George, as well as flooding from rain storms, the homeowners decided to demolish and build a new home in 1999.
- Flood-conscious and determined to protect against the next hurricane or flood, they used National Flood Insurance Program Increased Cost of Compliance funds to build an elevated house.
- Several construction techniques to mitigate wind and flood damage were incorporated into the new home.
- The homeowners did not simply comply with the stronger post-Camille coastal building code, they far exceeded it.
Memories of Camille: School Survives Katrina
- Ocean Springs Middle School received Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds to install storm shutters.
- The school demonstrated that taking preventative safety measures not only provides teachers and students with an increased sense of security but also ensures continuity of vital educational and social resources in the wake of a disaster.
Katrina’s Challenge – A Small Elevated Home
- A Pascagoula homeowner used Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds to elevate her home.
- The elevation protected the home from being a total loss during Hurricane Katrina.
- Although five feet of water entered the home, the homeowner was able to clean it and the house was inhabitable after the storm.
Elevated Home Serves as Neighborhood Shelter During Katrina
- The family’s home is the only elevated building in their Moss Point community.
- It became a refuge for 37 neighbors and their pets trapped by Katrina’s 15-foot storm surge.
- The family elevated their house in accordance with the city’s adoption of building codes compliant with the National Flood Insurance Program.
- The house is elevated four feet above the required nine-foot Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
- Katrina’s rushing waters soaked the insulation beneath the house and caused some damage to the building and staircase.
- However, the homeowners feel the overall damage incurred is minor compared to what their neighbors suffered.
A Dream Comes True: Mitigated Haven in Mississippi
- Mississippi homeowner incorporated several hurricane mitigation measures into the construction of her beachfront home.
- The house is elevated above the required Base Flood Elevation and has an additional 5 feet of freeboard.
- The design of the roof and the octagonal shape of the house aid in wind resistance.
- The entire house is tied together with metal brackets and hurricane straps that help distribute wind loads by providing a continuous load path from the roof to the foundation.
- Thanks to hurricane mitigation planning, the house is one of the few in the community that did not surrender to the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina.
Other Hurricane Katrina Best Practices