FEMA Case Study Library

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Building Code Lessons From the 1994 Northridge Earthquake

At 4:30 a.m. on January 17, 1994, the M6.7 Northridge struck in the San Fernando Valley, roughly 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Although the duration was only 10 to 20 seconds, the ground motions included a reading of 1.82g, the highest ever recorded in an urban area in North America, and the MMI was IX (violent). The earthquake resulted in around 60 fatalities, and damage estimates were as high as $50 billion.

The Role of Florida’s Building Codes in 2018 Hurricane Michael

The State of Florida first adopted a statewide minimum building code in 1974. However, that code allowed local governments to adopt one of four different codes that they could amend and enforce as they saw fit. When Hurricane Andrew struck south Florida in 1992, it broke all records for insured losses and became Florida’s worst insurance crisis in history. It quickly became obvious that Florida’s building code system was not adequate and that improvements were needed for the entire state.

How Building Codes Have Changed the Lives of U.S. Virgin Island Residents

In 1995, within two weeks, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) were hit by Hurricane Luis and Hurricane Marilyn. Hurricane Luis caused $300 million worth of damage, while Hurricane Marilyn caused even more of an impact. Marilyn was responsible for eight deaths and the loss or damage of 21,000 homes, including 75% of the residences on St. Thomas. As a result, USVI damage estimates from Hurricane Marilyn were $2.1 billion.

Harnessing Knowledge for Impact: Hurricane Ian MAT Report

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact on Florida in 2022, the need for information on resilience and mitigation against future disasters became abundantly clear.

Building Code Lessons From the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake

At 6 a.m. on Feb. 9, 1971, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck outside Los Angeles in the foothills above the San Fernando Valley. An estimated half a billion dollars in damages and 65 deaths were attributable to the earthquake. Most of the deaths occurred in two nearby hospital complexes, Olive View and Veterans, both of which suffered significant damage. 

Drought Hazard Use Case

As a producer of soybeans, corn and livestock, Iowa’s economy revolves around water. When a three-year drought hit Iowa, it was clear the state needed to make major investments toward drought resilience. As a result, a multi-agency partnership formed the drought coordination team, which leveraged national, regional and state resources including the National Risk Index to create the Iowa Drought Plan.

West Virginia Forms Partnerships to Increase Rural Engagement

West Virginia partners with the Pioneer Network to help spread flood risk information and build community capacity.

Rebuilding Education: Tipton County's Response to a Devastating Tornado

On March 31, 2023, an EF3 tornado wreaked havoc in Tipton County, causing one fatality and 28 injuries in Covington, Tennessee. The Tipton County School Board took on the critical responsibility of swiftly reintegrating students into classrooms for the remainder of the academic year.

Protecting School Children from Tornadoes: State of Kansas School Shelter Initiative

On May 3, 1999, a series of intense storms moved through “Tornado Alley,” producing numerous tornadoes that tore through areas of Oklahoma and Kansas.

Miami County, Ohio: Virtual Inspections

Current building codes require site inspections at several stages throughout the construction process. These can include inspections of concrete slabs, foundation walls, insulation, and roof ice guards, as well as re-inspections of specific or code-required (i.e., welds, masonry, etc.) items.