The Winds of Change?

by Paul Tarricone, Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 1, Pg. 42-45

Document Type: Feature article


In 1992, Hurricanes Andrew and Iniki combined to generate an estimated $30 billion in damage. The storms also generated their share of reports and recommendations about how best to mitigate the damage caused by the next hurricane. Rather than focusing on bridges and highrise buildings, many engineers are emphasizing the importance of protecting housing and other lowrise structures. Roughly 70% of the nearly 18,000 homes on the island of Kauai, Hawaii were destroyed or severely damaged by Iniki. More than 80,000 homes felt Andrew's wrath. A housing type that was hit particularly hard were mobile homes (also known as manufactured housing). Many are advocating adoption of the ASCE 7-88 building standard for mobile homes that would require them to withstand wind gusts of 80 to 110 mph. Masonary and wood-framed housing suffered damage, as well, mostly due to inadequate construction, rather than flaws in design. Housing design, however, is just one crucial issue. Engineers who assessed the ruins of the two hurricanes have compiled a wish list that includes research funding and a retrofit initiative to put hurricanes on a par with earthquakes, better land-use and urban planning, more use of instrumentation and computers to predict structural loading, increased training for engineers, construction workers and inspectors, and, of course, adoption and enforcement of new and more stringent building codes. If engineering practice and public preparedness are not improved, many feel a hurricane in a more developed area, such as Miami or New Orleans, could cause more than $50 billion worth of damage.

Subject Headings: Hurricanes and typhoons | Housing | Damage (structural) | Wind engineering | Residential buildings | Wind gusts | Labor | Storms | United States | Hawaii | Miami | Florida | New Orleans | Louisiana

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