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Building Codes

Will 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew pique interest in peak hurricane season?

Twenty-five years ago this week, Hurricane Andrew sent a blaring wake-up call throughout Florida that reverberated in all coastal states. The call said, loud and clear, that when you ignore the risks from Mother Nature, you lose. Florida learned just how vulnerable it was to catastrophic storms. But not all those schooled by Andrew remember the lessons.

The Tampa Bay Times lists 25 things to remember on the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. There’s the surprise regarding the storm’s strength, the death toll, the cost of the damage, and the fact that if the storm had veered toward Miami, rather than the less densely populated Homestead, deaths and damage would have been much more severe. Swiss Re said in a report on Andrew that if a similar storm hit today, economic losses would be between $80-100 billion in current US dollars; only $50-60 billion would be covered by insurance. The shortfall would be paid by taxpayers and governments.

Lessons from Andrew still resonate for insurers. For example, the case for more resilient construction was a major lesson. Today, Florida has among the strongest building codes in the nation. The need to more carefully manage risk and to spread risk globally were also well learned.

Yet, not everyone remembers what they learned 25 years ago. Memories fade. This week is a good time for a refresher – because late August is peak hurricane season. Andrew hit on August 24, 1992, in what was supposedly a “less active” season. That storm blew away any notions we held about betting on odds for weaker storm strength in a so-called off year.  Now is a perfect time to look at a hurricane season checklist and be prepared for an eight-week run of increased storm activity in these peak times.

Season of preparedness starts early; notes from the Hurricane Conference

Hundreds of people were thinking about bad weather this week at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando. This annual event is a forum for education and training in hurricane preparedness.

Of typhoons & hurricanes: Would your home hold up?

A hurricane by another name is typhoon. And, a massive one hit the Philippines on Nov. 8. Buildings in much of that area are not constructed to withstand high winds. While some Florida homes can take a hit from a strong hurricane, many cannot. It depends on the strength of the storm, where the home is located, how it was constructed and if the homeowner invested in a stronger structure or opted instead for a prettier interior.

Does Florida sunshine blind us to storm risk?

Today is another one of those drop-dead-gorgeous Florida days. The sun is out, the air is fresh (low humidity!), and there is the clearest of blue skies. It’s way too hot for January, in my opinion, but that’s not a complaint at all. That makes today a perfect day to think about the imperfect ones.

Florida building codes get top marks, yet lots of homes built before codes got smart

When it comes to building codes, Florida gets an A. Our fair – and increasingly hardy-built – state was one of three states earning more than 90 points on a 100-point rating scale to grade the regulations and processes for residential building construction. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety analyzed state-by-state building codes and enforcement of those codes across all states, and Florida ranks way up there, thanks to building code officials who make the rules stick and contractors who build homes ever stronger.