IBHS: Hurricane Charley Research Still Relevant

August 14th, 2014 by Editor

Following Hurricane Charley, which hit southwest Florida 10 years ago, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) researchers conducted a post-disaster research project. Several recurring lessons are still applicable today for consumers living in hurricane-prone states.

The research found that stronger building codes improve the performance of houses during a hurricane. IBHS conducted a study of closed insurance claims in 2004, in Charlotte County, Florida, where Charley made landfall. While Charley caused significant damage, the study found the frequency of damage was reduced by 40 percent, and the severity of damage was reduced by 60 percent to homes built after 1996, when stricter building codes went into effect in the area.

Furthermore, the new building code requirements enabled homeowners to return to their homes quicker, which likely reduced the disruption of their lives following the storm.

“This is clear and convincing evidence that Florida’s code requirements improved the performance of houses during a hurricane,” says Dr. Tim Reinhold, IBHS’ senior vice president of research and chief engineer, who led the research project in 2004. “During Charley, better-built homes remained intact. It was also telling that we found no demolition permits pulled on homes built after 1996, indicating that no houses were completely destroyed.”

IBHS’ Hurricane Charley research also found repeated areas of building vulnerability.

“Roof damage was the most common, along with soffit failures that resulted in interior water damage. In addition, damage to attached structures such as screened pool enclosures, as well as damage to windows and garage doors, which allowed the wind into homes, also were quite common,” notes Dr. Reinhold.

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