Fortified Buildings Weather Sally

Roofs without tarps were built to IBHS fortified standards while neighboring roofs were not.

It’s easy to tell which homes have Fortified roofs in the wake of Hurricane Sally, quips Roy Wright. The ones that don’t are color-coded with blue tarps.

Wright, who is CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, based in Charlotte, doesn’t find much humor in the wake of Hurricane Sally. But he finds satisfaction in seeing that the Fortified roof and building standards his group developed and has been promoting for a decade or more have proved themselves.

Wright toured Baldwin County’s coastal areas this week to see how the Fortified buildings fared.

“The short headline,” he says, “If you built to fortified standards you fared well. Your neighbors probably have blue tarps and you do not.”

Meeting the Fortified standard can be a retrofit to a roof with special nails designed to hold the deck in place, a special seal on the decking and improvements to hold down the roof edges. If you’re getting a new roof anyway, you can expect to pay about $1,000 extra to meet Fortified standards, he says.

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In new construction, buildings incorporate the roofing standards plus protections such as shutters and wind-rated garage doors and also adaptations to the design to tightly connect floors, walls and ceilings, creating a continuous band that is more wind-resistant that traditional design.

A fortified building can withstand winds up to 130 mph, he says.

Map shows Hurricane Sally’s track in relation to the 16,000 fortified homes and roofs in Alabama’s Gulf Coastal counties.

New standards were encouraged following back-to-back hits by Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina in 2004 and 2005, Wright says, and now Alabama leads the Gulf Coast with some 16,000 Fortified structures. Further information about Fortified building is available here.

Some state grant money has been available through the Strengthen Alabama Homes program to help meet the new standards, but the major cost savings is that insurance premiums are usually lower.

The real benefit, however, says Wright, is knowing your home or business will still be usable following the next storm.

“I can’t tell you when, but there will be another storm. It’s part of the risk of the Alabama coast,” he says.  “But these investments pay off.  The ability to stay home, or return home and reopen your business is invaluable.”

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