ORLANDO, Fla. -- Building better, stronger and safer is the key line of attack Floridians are advised to consider in the wake of tornadoes. Exceeding the requirements of state and local building codes with a "code plus" approach to rebuilding increases the disaster resistance of homes and businesses and decreases the chance of major structural damage from wind or water.
A Mitigation House Model is a code plus approach built with disaster-resistance in mind. The model transfers the load path from the roof to the foundation, and everything is carried by the foundation. A model house is currently displayed at Home Depot in Lady Lake and has been viewed by more than 1,500 spectators. Disaster specialists are on- site to demonstrate how to build and to repair homes and businesses stronger and safer. A permanent Mitigation House Model is located at Home Depot in Port Orange.
Students from DeLand High School and their supervising faculty built the permanent structure in Port Orange. Currently, DeLand students are building the third Mitigation House Model for the state. This year, Leesburg and New Smyrna Beach high school students are also building house models.
Local high school-vocational students, home improvement stores, local building officials, Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM), FEMA and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) are participating and cooperating in the building of the Mitigation House Model prototypes. Home Depot, Simpson Strong - Tie Company, Inc. and Grainger Industrial Supply have donated materials to the schools to construct the models.
"The Mitigation House Model will play an important role in educating the public regarding better building techniques," said Jesse Munoz, federal coordinating officer for the tornado-recovery efforts. An independent study conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences concluded that a dollar spent on mitigation saves society an average of $4.00 with positive benefit-cost ratios for hazards such as wind and flood.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.