Saturday, March 03, 2012

Time After Time

(CNN) -- A devastating storm system moved across the United States on Friday, spawning a slew of tornadoes that contributed to at least 28 fatalities in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Gordon reported Friday afternoon the agency had about "half a dozen reports of tornadoes on the ground," as well as reports of "significant damage" -- making his comments before some of the worst twisters were reported.

"This is an enormous outbreak that's going on right now across Kentucky and the South," Gordon said. "It's crazy. It's just nuts right here."

Every other year or so it seems, we are hammered by these tornado swarms that cause untold misery and damage. Structures of all kinds are ripped to shreds and the folks trapped inside stand little chance of survival.

This level of devastation is preventable

How many more times do we have to live through these disasters before we finally understand that the homes and buildings in these areas are built to a fatally defective standard?

Stick-built structures tacked onto a concrete slab repeatedly fail even though they are built to present FHA minimums. What we really need are new construction minimums that can provide a much higher degree of structural integrity during one of these ever-repeating tornado swarms.

Higher initial cost? Of course. But compared to the costs of repeatedly rebuilding from nothing? Just the repeated loss of materials is staggering.

I keep seeing these houses in Iraq that have an outer shell of concrete walls. They take direct hits from tank and artillery shells and keep on standing.

Seems to me if we started building our structures in these tornado-prone areas with outer walls of concrete block re-enforced with vertical and horizontal rebar, the roof rafters tied solidly to the walls and the windows made of something much more durable than single strength panes of glass, the aftermath of these storms would be greatly reduced.

Sadly, the government is obsessed only with the idea of every American owning a home, regardless of how poorly it is built.

These homes may be all pretty and comfortable, but - depending on where you live - they may be nothing more than a death trap.

We really need to revisit our buiding codes for these areas that are forever in the paths of deadly storms. At while we're at it, build them well enough to - at the very least - outlast their mortgage.

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