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USGNN Original StoryWhat Impact Will Ike Leave?

While codes are written to protect building occupants, every so often there comes along an event that sets terrible new precedents. Hurricane Andrew caused more than $26.5 billion of damage and led to significantly more stringent building codes in the Florida market (CLICK HERE to read more) and only three years ago Hurricane Katrina led to Louisiana's adoption of a statewide building code (CLICK HERE to read more). While Ike, which hit Texas on September 13, has drawn comparisons to earlier hurricanes (CLICK HERE to read "Ike Worse than Alicia"), what impact might the damage, estimated by the Insurance Information Institute at $11 billion, have on future codes?

"Alicia happened 25 years ago, and a lot has changed in that time in regards to the availability of protective language in the model building codes and in protective products," comments Julia Schimmelpenningh, architectural applications manager of Saflex, a unit of Solutia Inc., in Springfield, Mass. "Texas currently requires enforcement of model building codes for cities (not counties) and allows local modifications that can weaken or eliminate wind-borne debris protection. Most cities have not removed the wind-borne debris protection requirements, but some counties are not focused on enforcement. Fortunately, the Texas Department of Insurance enforces stringent wind-borne debris provisions for the state insurance program and I am sure their phones will be ringing in the next few days and weeks to help other municipalities in their consideration of enhanced requirements for their re-built communities."

In addition to changing codes, hurricane-resistant products continue to evolve.

"Glass breakage caused by Hurricane Ike reinforces the importance of impact-resistant glazing in areas of the country that are subjected to windborne debris," says Valerie Block, CDT, LEED AP, senior marketing specialist for DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions in Wilmington, Del. "We have seen the effects of broken glass after other storms in Texas and elsewhere resulting in massive clean up, board-up and glass replacement-not to mention the possibility of significant interior damage. Impact-resistant glazing is designed to remain intact, serving as a barrier to the elements even if broken."

The most likely first step is for counties that have adopted codes to begin enforcing codes already in place.

"I would think that we will see more Texas municipalities adopting and enforcing the protective language in the model buildings codes, just as we saw the areas affected by Katrina do in her aftermath," Schimmelpenningh says.

For more on hurricane codes around the world, look for the September issue of USGlass magazine.

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