University of South Florida

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University of South Florida

WSJ: Tampa Bay Homes at Risk From Hurricane Ian Flooding, Winds, According to Professor Taryn Sabia

Flooding from a storm surge and heavy rains is a major concern for the Tampa Bay area as Hurricane Ian looms, according to Taryn Sabia, an architecture and urban design professor at the University of South Florida who has studied the vulnerability of Tampa Bay-area housing.

Rains in the past two months have saturated the ground, and severe rainfall could mean widespread heavy flooding of homes, said Prof. Sabia, who is director of her university’s center for community design and research.

Some of the most affluent homes in the area are along the waterfront, but tend to be newer and more resilient, she said.

Older homes tend to be on higher ground in the region. They are more vulnerable to strong winds, which can shatter windows, blow off roofs and pour in rain, she said. Many older homes were built before stricter building codes were put in place, and “those structures may not be able to withstand a significant hurricane,” she said.

Prof. Sabia and her family live in an older home that is 36 feet above sea level, and they have tried to secure the house as best as possible, but won't have enough time to board up all the windows, she said.

“There definitely is a bit of panic,” she said.

Prof. Sabia, her husband, two children and their dog aren't in a mandatory evacuation area. They have decided to stay, she said.

During Hurricane Irma in 2017, many evacuees were stuck in traffic on the interstate and had trouble finding gasoline, she said. Flights out of the city were impossible to get as of last week, she said.

They are boarding up some windows “based on our best guess” of where the winds will be strongest, she said.

View the full article in the Wall Street Journal

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