Professor Bob MacLeod on Building Safety after Hurricane Ian
A man swimming in his dining room. An entire house floating down the street after being uprooted from its foundation. Pieces of vinyl siding and shingles littering the streets.
Faced with images of buildings that were ripped apart by Hurricane Ian just hours south of Tampa Bay, many residents here are left wondering “would my home have survived?”
The answer may depend heavily on when it was built.
1992 was a turning point for building safety in Florida, said Kevin Garriott, building official for the City of Clearwater. After Hurricane Andrew ripped through the state that year causing an estimated $26 billion in damage, building codes were overhauled to include stricter storm safety measures. The first statewide building code went into effect in 2002 and is updated every three years.
Building codes dictate standards for new construction projects, but they do not apply to existing buildings. Even if a building is not up to code, Garriott said most structures built after Andrew include sturdier materials and more resilient roof tie downs.