Hurricane Loss Reduction for Residences and Mobile Homes in Florida

The Legislature passed the Bill Williams Residential Safety and Preparedness Act, creating the Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program (Mitigation Program) in 1999. Located in s. 215.559, F.S., the Mitigation Program receives an annual appropriation of $10 million from the FHCF which is submitted to the Division of Emergency Management (Division) within the Executive Office of the Governor for administration of purposes specified in the section.

 

Residential Construction Mitigation Program

Section 215.559(1)(a), F.S., requires that $7 million of the $10 million appropriated under the Mitigation Program must be used to improve wind resistance and prevent or reduce losses after a disaster. These directives comprise the Residential Construction Mitigation Program (RCMP) – 10 percent, or $700,000 is directed to the Florida International University center that is dedicated to hurricane research.

Each year a work plan and budget are presented to Florida Division of Emergency Management (FLDEM) for review and approval. The following is a summary of some of FIU’s most successful research programs for Hurricane Loss Reduction for Housing in Florida:

 

  • There are approximately 270,000 mobile homes currently in use in Florida that were built prior to the establishment of the 1976 national HUD standards. These housing units are considered to be particularly at risk for sustaining and causing catastrophic damage in the event of a hurricane. Extensive research was conducted to eliminate state and local barriers to upgrading mobile homes and communities to meet current standards. Research to develop a program for the recycling of existing older mobile homes was also presented.
  • The State Building Code Commission announced in 2003 that it had adopted a proposed modification to the Florida Building Code (FBC) on the basis of two years of research conducted at FIU. The modification made the 8d ringshank nail the new standard for attaching roof sheathing to its supporting structure in the High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) (Broward, Dade). Research conducted by the IHRC team has shown that the ring-shank nail improves the performance of roof sheathing under the impact of hurricanes by a factor of 130%.
  • The “Wall of Wind” (WoW) based projects funded by the FLDEM have made a significant impact on hurricane mitigation. (a) Improving Building Codes, Policy, Regulation, and Construction Practices: Recommendations for changing the FBC based on the WoW research were unanimously approved at the Florida Building Commission meeting in 2010. The code modifications influence wind loading on roof top equipment (RTE) not only for the HVHZ but also for the entire State of Florida. The 2004-2005 hurricane seasons showed that RTE were most vulnerable causing roof damage and generating flying debris. (b) Innovative Hurricane Mitigation Product Development/Validation: FLDEM projects helped in, for the first time ever, full-scale validation of innovative mitigation devices “AeroEdge” (patented by FIU’s private industry partner WPC) to reduce hurricane induced roof damage. It is estimated that Aeroedge could prevent about $5 billion in insured losses for an event similar to Hurricane Wilma of 2005. Aeroedge devices will create/sustain businesses and hundreds of jobs when commercialized in future. (c) Science Advancement, Dissemination, Leveraging, and Outreach: The WoW team published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers and obtained complimentary research funds from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Energy and industry partners such as Renaissance Re and Roofing Alliance for Progress. The IHRC created and hosted the WoW contest that engaged high school students under the support of the FLDEM program to promote mitigation culture. The facility and contest received extensive media coverage by the Discovery Channel, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC World News, and Good Morning America. FL DEM funds also supported a new hurricane mitigation exhibit featured at the Miami Science Museum, as well as an annual Feel the Force hurricane season preparedness event. http://wow.fiu.edu/outreach/miami-science-museum-exhibit/
  • An internet GIS system was developed to distribute statewide airborne LiDAR data collected by FLDEM. The LiDAR website can be found at http://mapping.ihrc.fiu.edu
  • The impacts of hurricane wind on buildings are not only determined by the magnitude and duration of high wind, but also by the interaction between features including terrain, vegetation, and buildings above the Earth’s surface and the wind within the boundary layer. Assessment of surface roughness is thus a critical component of modeling wind effects on buildings. IHRC researchers have developed methods to extract surface elements from LiDAR measurements and to estimate the surface roughness for inclusion in various impact models.
  • FIU has employed socio-economic surveys and computer based simulations to improve public awareness and promote hurricane risk mitigation efforts and disaster preparedness.
  • Continued funding from DEM has generated Educating the Next Generations of Mitigation Experts: The various research projects throughout the years has helped to produce high quality engineers, social scientists, and coastal experts. (5 Ph.D., 54 MS, and 22 Undergraduate)

In 2013 FIU will conduct and provide research, to DEM in six (6) major areas that have been identified by the IHRC in the areas of structural mitigation analysis, socioeconomic research, data dissemination and education/outreach.

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