We propose to build demonstration models of our Natural Disaster Proof Homes in coastal locations in the Florida Keys, Biloxi, MS, New Orleans, Galveston, TX, and Hawaii; and with enough money we would include earthquake-resistant models in California and Alaska. The object is to build a model directly in the path of a future category 5 hurricane in order to prove the concept.
These houses will only cost 20 to 50% more than wooden construction costs. The increased costs would be off-set by far less storm damage and reconstruction costs, the Energy Star efficient design, which would reduce utility costs, and insurance discounts, and/or other new incentives such as tax rebates or reduction in real estate taxes.
This new type of construction would reduce the catastrophic outcomes for the future, not to mention the reduction in the loss of human life and human suffering caused by these more and more frequent catastrophes.
The governor of Mississippi stated that, “90% of all buildings were destroyed in Biloxi, MS and Gulfport, LA”, by Katrina in 2005, a category 4 hurricane.
An unexpected development that adds to the need for new, safer homes comes from the insurance industry. Insurance companies are now considering limiting their losses by restricting or refusing to cover hurricane losses in the future. The 2005 hurricane season has resulted in losses of nearly $100 Billion dollars; and the 2004 hurricane season losses of $50 Billion dollars, and none of these were the stronger category 5 hurricanes (see table below). Are they looking at $200 Billion dollars of losses in 2006? With the forecast of both increased numbers and intensity of coming hurricane seasons it is no wonder that they want to limit their losses.
Hurricane resistant construction becomes even more important if people can’t get insurance.
The overall damage above is a function of a number of forces including wind forces and storm surges already briefly mentioned, as well as projectiles and salt water erosion. While the types of major forces vary little, the ratio of these forces is altered per the type of natural disaster. See Table 2.
Table 2. Forces per Natural Disaster
Storm surge damage is a result of tsunamis (no wind damage) or hurricanes. Wind and projectile damage is a result of tornadoes (no storm surge damage) or hurricanes (both storm surge and wind damage). Flood damage results from tsunamis and hurricanes, but seldom from tornadoes.
The old story of the wolf and the three little pigs is somewhat analogous to the design problem of traditionally built homes. The 1st pig had a house of straw, the 2nd pig had a house built from sticks, and the 3rd pig had a house made from bricks. The wolf was able to blow the straw and stick houses, but not the brick one. In our case a hurricane blows much stronger than the story book wolf, and can even blow down the brick house. Thus building with better materials is only part of the solution.
Our design looks at the damage from natural disasters, and integrates solutions to each one, while adapting, enhancing, and applying them in a new and economically efficient manner. We have come up with creative ways to both bolster the strength and cut costs by re-designing the old traditional foundation-laying techniques. Once more, the Devil is in the Details: for example, piling integration, height of pilings, number of pilings, and the composition of the pilings are the first element of our design.
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