Rebuilding For Storm Safety

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Release date: 
June 12, 2002
Release Number: 

London, KY -- Property owners planning to rebuild after sustaining damage in Kentucky's recent severe storms and tornadoes should plan to make their structures stronger. State and federal disaster recovery officials strongly encourage residents to take a few extra steps to minimize damage in future storms.

"Dollars spent now on a few extra construction steps can save money and trouble in the future and may actually enhance a property's value," said Mike Bolch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "This is called hazard mitigation."

Hazard mitigation in regions subject to tornadoes includes such reasonable measures as tying roofs, walls and foundations together as a unit so they are less likely to separate in high winds and peel away. Conventional methods rely mostly on gravity to hold these elements in place.

In addition to gaining a more damage-resistant home or business, it's possible that storm-proofing could result in lower hazard insurance premiums. Federal assistance may be available to help with the added cost of rebuilding and for the addition of safe rooms, places where occupants can find shelter during a severe storm or an earthquake.

"We know that disasters of this kind will occur again, but the people of Kentucky don't always have to suffer the same losses," said Cash Centers, Kentucky's state coordinating officer. "Mitigation will help us bring an end to the repetitive-loss cycle in disaster response."

Information on measures to help protect your home is available free by calling FEMA at 1-888-565-3896, and asking for publication 320, Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building a Safe Room Inside Your House. "There's no better time to do this than when your home is being repaired and the disaster is fresh in your mind," said Bolch. "That's when the benefits are most apparent."

Here are some of the important measures homeowners should discuss with contractors before rebuilding:

  • WIND CLIPS: These are small metal plates that secure a roof to the top of structure walls. They are inexpensive and widely used in areas of the country prone to damaging wind loads.

  • MASONRY TIES: These metal strips help secure brick walls to the wood structure. They are most effective when spaced no farther apart than 16 inches horizontally and two feet vertically.

  • PLYWOOD: While impact tests show pressboard can be as strong as plywood, construction engineers prefer using plywood 5/8ths of an inch thick, and not less than 7/16ths.

  • FASTENING: In securing four-by-eight-foot plywood sheathing to walls or roofs, nails should be driven at intervals no greater than four inches around the perimeter of the board and six inches in the middle lines.

  • GARAGE DOORS: High winds can buckle a weak door, creating entry for wind that can easily lift an unclipped roof. Consider a heavier gauge garage door.

  • SAFE ROOMS: Plans are available free from FEMA for construction of safe rooms in homes or businesses. These are heavily fortified closets or basement rooms that have been designed to withstand wind loads that could seriously damage the surrounding structure. The purpose is to give people a safe place to go and time to get there as a storm approaches.

In structures with concrete block foundations, the bolts should penetrate at least 15 inches into the foundation in order to reach the second course of blocks to provide better odds that they will not be pulled out of the foundation in strong winds.

If the concrete is poured, bolts a minimum of one-half-inch diameter should be set...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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