TALLAHASSEE, FL – A hurricane can leave a trail of devastation that includes loss of life and property. It can also have a major impact on the economy.
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management created the Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program in response to the damage Hurricane Andrew caused to Florida’s insurance market in 1992. Its aim is to minimize some of the risks associated with a storm.
The Florida Legislature initiated the Hurricane Catastrophe Trust Fund, which subsequently authorized the HLMP to encourage local partners to engage in best practices to reduce risk and losses.
With an annual budget of $7 million provided by the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Trust Fund, the HLMP supports activities that include:
• Retrofitting residential properties.
• Promoting public education and public information.
• Conducting hurricane research.
• Demonstrating, testing and raising awareness of new techniques to enhance manufactured homes’ wind resistance.
• Using the Florida Building Code as a standard for retrofitting and partnering with local housing authorities and nonprofit organizations in identifying properties, FDEM promotes wind mitigation and provides hazard mitigation upgrades to residents.
• In promoting public education and outreach, FDEM provides training for individuals interested in wind mitigation techniques, products and procedures, as well as codes and standards. FDEM provides an online information center on wind mitigation and continues to educate the public on the Florida Building Code cooperative programs with local and federal governments.
• FDEM partners with two educational institutes to create research programs to promote sound wind mitigation research and activities:
o Florida International University researches three issues:
Ø Elimination of state and local barriers to upgrading existing mobile homes and communities. Ø Recycling of existing older mobile homes.
Ø Hurricane loss-reduction devices and techniques for site-built residences.
o The university also has a community education outreach research and testing facility known as the Wall of Wind.
o Tallahassee Community College has a pilot project known as the Mobile Home Tie-Down Program designed to demonstrate, test and raise awareness of new techniques to enhance manufactured homes’ wind resistance. Capable of simulating a Category 5 hurricane, the Wall of Wind Challenge at Florida International University is a community education outreach project supported by a grant from the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program. Photo courtesy of FDEM.
HLMP’s Wind Mitigation Retrofit Program partners with local governments and nonprofit organizations to fund inspections as well as construction or modification of building components designed to increase the structure’s ability to withstand hurricane force winds.
The program funds development and use of products approved by FDEM regarding wind mitigation retrofit techniques and training for local governments. These materials are used for public-service announcements, community workshops, training seminars, hands-on demonstrations and webinars.
FDEM keeps track of the HLMP’s effectiveness of strategies, its budget and expenditures for activities in an annual report.
The HLMP, created by the Bill Williams Residential Safety and Preparedness Act in 1999, also established the Residential Construction Mitigation Program. According to the HLMP’s 2015 Annual Report, the RCMP has had a far-reaching economic impact.
The immediate effect was the reduction in homeowner insurance costs once the home was wind mitigated. Another economic impact has been job creation. It is estimated RCMP created 271 jobs with a positive economic impact of $34 million during the state fiscal year.
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