Expert says we are building too much in 'harms way' of hurricanes
NOTRE DAME, Ind -- Dr. Ahsan Kareem is a structural engineer that specializes in extreme wind and the stress it puts on buildings. We asked him his takeaways from our most recent hurricanes.
A lot of the damage is what you would expect, especially from poorly constructed homes made of wood or sheet metal. However, even well designed structures will begin to see some damage above 40 to 50 mph.
" I'm not sure that my own house, which is very well built, would be able to survive 125 mph wind" said Kareem.
Kareem also went on to talk about how most new construction preformed pretty well, especially in the Miami area after they raised their building codes in the wake of hurricane Andrew.
When asked about rebuilding, Dr. Kareem admits his views may not be popular but they are the most logical
Some coastal and low lying areas are too vulnerable to wind and storm surge. In fact barrier islands like the Florida Keys and wetlands like the everglades take the brunt of a lot of wind and storm surge from hurricanes. Those areas are best being visited without many permanent structures. If you do build in harms way, building codes should be higher, including building on stilts in some areas due to the danger of flooding and storm surge, Kareem suggests.
Even on some of the smaller Caribbean Islands or Puerto Rico there may be some areas that should not be rebuilt.
Before 'Harvey' even hit Houston there were already warnings of the impending danger of flooding. A Pro Publica investigation " Hell or High Water" explained why zoning and building on flood planes would only make a disaster worse.
Even though we do not live in a hurricane prone area, these same concepts still apply. Following building codes, avoiding building in flood plains and restoring wetlands can help lessen the threat of extreme weather, especially flooding.