INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indiana residents who are repairing or rebuilding in the wake of recent severe storms and tornadoes are facing many choices and opportunities as they put the pieces of their homes and lives back together.
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) offer several suggestions for measures to take to potentially reduce the risk of losses in future disasters.
Adding metal connectors to a structure can improve the transfer of wind and weight loads through the house from the roof system to the foundation. Construction details and material selection can result in a house with improved resistance to wind pressures and wind-borne debris.
Experts say the roof is most susceptible to wind damage. In both new construction and retrofitting, people should build to ensure the connections between the roof and walls are strong enough to resist the uplift effect of high winds. In such winds, the windows and doors often blow out first. Once the windows and doors are gone, the wind puts pressure on the roof from below and the wind also pulls on the top, so there is double pressure on the roof. When the roof lifts off it may collapse back down on the house.
Garage doors are another vulnerable area. With a weak garage door, a severe wind can blow in the door. Wind pressure then lifts the garage roof which can be hinged to the house. The garage roof can pull off part of the house, let the wind into the attic, and put pressure on the house roof, which then may lift off. Retrofitting older garage doors helps increase a home's storm resistance but new garage doors are stronger and reinforced.
Shutters or plywood covers can protect windows from breaking when there is advance notice of a wind storm event allowing time to put the protection in place.
Wooden doors are not designed to withstand much of a wind load. Heavier metal doors with several bolts are much more wind resistant.
Building with 2-by-6 wall studs rather than the more common 2-by-4 timber is another way to make a structure more wind resistant.
Concerning foundations, many homes are built on concrete pads to which they are only slightly connected. Severe winds pull the walls right out of the foundation. To resist high winds, structures must be firmly connected to foundations. Bolts set deep into concrete foundations and topped with a washer and nut should be used to screw the structure to the foundation.
For personal safety, a safe room provides protection. A safe room is designed to withstand extreme winds, with steel-reinforced concrete or steel sheathing to make the walls and ceiling virtually puncture-proof. There are many options for safe rooms, ranging from pre-fabricated shelters to those built from scratch or included in new-house plans. Safe rooms serve as an alternative to evacuation and can provide peace of mind when severe weather threatens.
More information is available at www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/howto/index.shtm#5.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.