Building Science Resource Library

The Building Science Resource Library contains all of FEMA’s hazard-specific guidance that focuses on creating hazard-resistant communities.

You can search for a document by its title, or filter the collection to browse by:

  • Topic: High winds, flood, earthquake, etc.
  • Document Type: Brochure, report, fact sheet, infographic, etc.
  • Audience: Building professionals & engineers, individuals & homeowners, teachers & kids, etc.
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Best Available Refuge Area Checklist

The Best Available Refuge Area (BARA) Checklist may also be downloaded from the link on this page.

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Building Science Support and Code Changes Aiding Sandy Recovery Fact Sheet No. 3

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy made landfall, devastating New Jersey and New York with tens of billions of dollars in damages. Since then, recovery activities have focused on increasing resilience of buildings and the lifeline infrastructure. Significant progress on this front, described in this fact sheet, includes:

- Deployment of the Hurricane Sandy Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) to assess damage and make recommendations
- Updated building codes at the local, State, and national levels
- Recovery projects across New Jersey, New York, and New York City to restore critical facilities and infrastructure
- Developing a culture of resilient recovery in building mitigation and risk reduction actions

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Community Safe Room Fact Sheet

This fact sheet provides information about safe rooms and explains that a safe room is a room or structure specifically designed and constructed to resist wind pressures and wind-borne debris impacts during an extreme wind event, like tornadoes and hurricanes, for the purpose of providing life-safety protection.

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Community Tornado Safe Room Doors Installation and Maintenance Fact Sheet

Safe room door assemblies are one of the most important components of a safe room because they must provide the same level of protection as the walls and roof, yet also remain functional for quick access. This fact sheet provides information about the selection, installation, and maintenance of safe room door assemblies for community safe rooms. It is recommended that safe room door assembles are regularly maintained to protect their functionality and maximize their life span. The fact sheet covers what should be checked and how often, as well as several solutions related to the maintenance of safe room door assemblies. While the fact sheet discusses community safe room door assemblies, some of the information in the fact sheet is pertinent to owners of residential safe rooms.

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FEMA 281, Mitigation Assessment Team Report: Hurricane Opal in Florida

Hurricane Opal made landfall on October 4, 1995, as a Category 3 storm. Fifteen counties in the Florida Panhandle were declared Federal disaster areas. Field inspections were concentrated along a 200-mile stretch of Florida's Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Most of the structural damage associated with the storm was caused by coastal flood forces: storm surge, wind-generated waves, storm-induced erosion, and floodborne debris. The types of structural damage included slab foundations, pile and pier foundations, and framing systems. Recommendations for reconstruction include the application of v-zone construction requirements; construction materials should meet or exceed the minimum requirements for building materials in the Standard Building Code; slab and grade beams designed as freestanding structural elements; and pile, post, column, and pier foundations designed to accommodate all design flood, wind, and other loads simultaneously.

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FEMA 290, Mitigation Assessment Team Report: Hurricane Fran in North Carolina

On September 5, 1996, Hurricane Fran made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina. Coastal areas experienced significant erosion and scour. Erosion caused by Hurricane Fran was exacerbated by the previous dune erosion caused by Hurricane Bertha, which made landfall in the same area only two months earlier. The MAT observed very little damage in some areas, where velocity flows, wave action, and severe erosion occurred. The successful performance of buildings in these areas demonstrates the value of compliance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements.

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FEMA 331, Protecting Business Operations - 2nd Report on Costs and Benefits of Natural Hazard Mitigation

Floodwaters can submerge critical equipment, hurricane-force winds can rip sections of roofing off production facilities, and earthquakes can bring down suspended ceilings in office facilities.

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FEMA 338, Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) Report - Hurricane Georges in the Gulf Coast

This report presents FEMA's Building Performance Assessment Team's (BPAT) observations on the success and failure of buildings in the Florida Keys and Gulf Coast areas of the United States to withstand the wind and flood forces generated by Hurricane Georges. Recommendations to improve the building performance in future natural disasters in this area are included as well.

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FEMA 342, Building Performance Assessment Team Report - Midwest Tornadoes of May 3, 1999

In response to the disasters caused by the May 3 tornadoes, FEMA deployed a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT), composed of national experts in engineering, architecture, meteorology, and planning, to Oklahoma and Kansas. The mission of the BPAT was to assess the performance of buildings affected by the tornadoes, investigate losses, and describe the lessons learned. This report presents the BPATs observations, conclusions, and recommendations, which are intended to help communities, businesses, and individuals reduce future injuries and the loss of life and property resulting from tornadoes and other high-wind events.

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FEMA 490, Mitigation Assessment Team Report: Summary Report on Building Performance 2004 Hurricane Season

The purpose of this document is to summarize the observations, conclusions, and recommendations that were obtained during post-disaster assessments sponsored by the FEMA Mitigation Division in response to Florida 2004 hurricane season. More than ten rapid response teams and two Mitigation Assessment Teams (MATs) were deployed to document observations and provide recommendations. The rapid response data collection teams focused on coastal high water marks, inland wind effects, residential and commercial building performance, critical and essential facility performance, and mitigation program effectiveness. The MATs assessed damage to the built environment and relied on the perishable data, such as high water marks, collected by the rapid response teams to quantify flood and wind effects of the hurricanes.