When Disaster Strikes Yet Again
In the aftermath of massive tornadoes leaves one questioning the existing building codes in areas that are prone to tornadoes and hurricanes. Yet, the United States keeps rebuilding the same type of structures knowing full well that the possibility of another tornado or hurricane will happen. Building codes have never been mandated to have buildings comply with safety structures that would withstand the mammoth effects caused by either the strongest tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. It would seem only logical that in areas like Oklahoma and around the coastal areas of the United States which are prone to hurricanes that building codes would meet the requirement to offset the damages to property and save lives. These building codes should now comply with those requirements.
Weather disasters are causing at least $1 billion each in damages hit the United States over 30 times in just the last three years alone. This is more than in the entire decade of the 1980's. The prognosis is that storms of the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy and this recent tornado in Oklahoma will keep occurring but at a much faster pace in the following two decades, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. When disaster strikes, and it will, it just makes sense that in tornado prone areas buildings from homes to public buildings must be constructed with the latest technology and be essentially tornado, hurricane and earthquake proof.
Just think of the enormous savings when we utilize like that old phrase" An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Not only in the aftermath reconstruction but in lives that would be saved if we had buildings and homes already build with all the safety features. As it stands tornadoes are by far the biggest disasters of all to challenge home owners in North America. They are about four times more destructive than hurricanes or earthquakes and they come at you with little or no warning. Yet, here in the United States it really isn't that complicated to install the engineering and architecture to build buildings and homes that are safe but, it is essentially ignored.
To put this in perspective today it is not at all that technically difficult to design and construct homes that will stand up to these mega monster storms. It has been effectively done for over half a century, but, not in North America. And, they can be build for approximately the same cost as conventional wood frame houses.
The damage done by this recent tornado in Oklahoma depicts the real need to rebuild using the technology and engineering now available. As we have seen with the aftermath of tornadoes even a small EF3 tornado leaves conventional buildings as piles of rubble. Buildings are now unsalvageable. The other tragedy is that in the United States too many builders are not familiar with the relatively simple construction methods available that are definitely capable of resisting and withstanding EF-5 tornadoes as the one that hit Oklahoma. Too often we have home builders rebuild the destroyed homes and buildings with the same vulnerable technology in which they were originally built. Consequently, a repeat of a disaster when it strikes again. It is really sad when in explaining after a disaster has occurred these so-called experts have publicly offered subjective explanations for the failures and have routinely proposed solutions that have not been documented as being capable of standing up to severe category EF-5 tornadoes. Most of the time these "experts" base their assumptions by trying to upgrade wood frame technology that has only continued to fail time and time again.
It is these experts that continue to pursue ways to build so-called survivable wood frame homes. The continue to state that it would be too costly to build if they didn't build or rebuild using the same wood base and conventional technology of the past. Most of the market oriented claims to date are that new houses being build with the same wood base technology are tornado, earthquake and hurricane resistant. They are literally speaking with forked tounges.
What makes the building trends in the United States particularly concerning is construction of new and rebuilt homes and buildings consistently put life and property in harms way. It is no more evident in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and now in Oklahoma. In Tampa, Florida much of the new building projects reverts back to wood frame construction. It is particularly troublesome because all of Florida is in the target zones with hurricanes. It is not a question of if one is going to strike it is a question of when one storm will hit. That boy scout motto "Be prepared" is a very well intentioned rule of thumb. This includes that building structures whether they are homes, apt. buildings or any other inhabitable structure are hurricane, flood, and tornado proof.
All too often so many new or updated buildings continue to fall way short of providing the safety structure that would withstand major storms. When any thought about extra costs tacked on to meet or exceed the demands of storm proof building are deemed as unnecessary expenses. Even though the costs to provide the safety measures of storm proof homes and other buildings is trivial. It is far better to build homes and other buildings the first time meeting and exceeding documented requirements of storm proof structures. Just think of the money spent and lives lost because we continually listen to these so-called building experts.
In tornado prone areas every building has to meet the requirements like Forever Homes has and is constructed with storm proof basements, back up generators, and back up water and septic systems. If more home and schools in this Oklahoma tragedy had full storm proof basements the out come would have been that much better. In Florida even though basements are most times impractical construction of homes should follow the requirements set by Forever Homes and other well documented builders that have proven models which have remained unscathed when those mega storms hit. To keep redoing and repeating building using the same outdated technology is a sure fire recipe for more disaster to strike.
Just recently on a visit to a storm shelter here in Florida where hurricane season is fast approaching is still a lesson in futility. This state has had years to prepare every shelter to have the necessary provisions inside so that what happened inside the Silver Dome during Hurricane Katrina won't happen again hasn't happened. We are still on our way of repeating the events of when disaster strikes. We must do better to save lives and reduce the overwhelming financial and economic effects that have only continued because of our refusal to implement the technology to negate the effects of when any disaster strikes. .