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Hurricanes and Resilience: Report Lays Out Gameplan


By Dan Hounsell Emergency Preparedness
aerial view of Houston showing flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey

Nature always bats last, goes the time-proven saying. In the case of natural disasters, the results of nature’s last at-bat often can be catastrophic, as news footage of destruction caused by hurricanes, as well as tornadoes and wildfires shows all too often. For facilities and communities looking to improve their resilience in the face of hurricanes, a new federal report highlights vulnerabilities and opportunities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently published a report on the performance of commercial, government and residential buildings in areas affected by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. The report is seen as a critical tool for facilities and communities seeking to build back stronger after disasters of national significance and reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of future storms.

Among the report’s higher priority recommendations are these:

• Building owners and facility managers should ensure rooftop equipment is mounted adequately and protect glazed openings to prevent wind-related damage. Topographic effects of wind speed-up should also be factored into building design.

• Elevate new and substantially damaged and substantially improved buildings above the National Flood Insurance Program elevation requirements to protect them from flooding. Managers should routinely re-evaluate dry floodproofing designs and plans after deployment and instill a culture of preparedness.

• Review and update building codes, standards and regulations with the latest model building codes and referenced standards. Code enforcement staff should be trained adequately, and inspectors should ensure construction follows applicable codes and standards.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

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