In the weeks and months following a disaster, as you plan repairs to your home or office, consider using techniques that will make the building more resistant to floods, heavy rain and high winds. The following resources are provided by FEMA, the Institute for Business and Home Safety (an association of insurance companies), the Corps of Engineers, and others not directly associated with a land-grant university.
Engineers and others involved in hazard mitigation make a practice of studying buildings after an event, to determine why buildings fail - so designs can be improved. For example, in the early days following Hurricane Charley, teams from the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS; an insurance industry association) began researching and collecting property loss information as well as providing building safety communications through the news media, member companies and directly to the public.
Some of the initial observations included:
- Homes built under the new Florida Building Code (since 2002) generally withstood the storm better than neighboring homes built prior to the new standards. However, the fact that strong winds persisted across the state underscored the need for maintaining strong code requirements throughout the interior of the state.
- New manufactured homes built to the most recent standards also held up better than the older homes. However, add-on structures like carports, laundry rooms or porches often failed, causing damage to the home.
More recently, IBHS released a study of building performance in Hurricane Ike. The results are published in the publication, Hurricane Ike: Nature's Force vs Structural Strength. The extensive research behind the publication, in IBHS's assessment, advances loss mitigation objectives in several critical ways, including:
Post-disaster assessments of building performance are also conducted by FEMA's Mitigation Assessment Teams (MATs), formerly called Building Performance Assessment Teams (BPATs). The MAT Program is an award-winning program combining resources from a Federal, State, Local, and Private-Sector Partnership to study building performance as part of FEMA's national mitigation effort. The first widely publicized BPAT Report was for Hurricane Andrew.
BPAT reports on natural disasters include: Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Iniki, Hurricane Opal, Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Georges in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Georges in the Gulf Coast, Midwest Tornadoes of May 3, 1999. More recently, the MAT teams have produced reports for Hurricane Katrina (2005) and Hurricane Ike (2008).
The collection of B-PAT and MAT reports, and the associated Recovery Advisories, is maintained at http://www.fema.gov/rebuild/mat/mat_reprts.shtm . The Institute for Business and Home Saftey routinely conducts studies to help identify loss sources and offer solutions. It provides that information on its Report and Studies index.
The Corps of Engineers, National Nonstructural/Floodproofing Committee publishes its resources on a security-enabled web site: https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/nfpc/ . Most browsers will require you to deliberately bypass the security block. Among the publications of the committee is the 1998 "Floodproofing Successes and Failures", which documents the perfomance of various non-structural measures.