Hurricane Ike was 10 years ago. It damaged some buildings, while it validated the integrity of others, especially since then building codes in Galveston have become increasingly more stringent. Most, if not all, new construction has been subject to design by structural engineers and inspected for compliance during the construction process.

It therefore seems appropriate to ask just how well all of this new construction would fair if subjected to a direct hit by another Ike or Michael? (Remember that photo of a single house on Bolivar standing in a debris field that was once a neighborhood?)

The cost of new construction is very high. New building codes and processes were put into place for a reason, so what might be the payback? There might not be any one person supremely qualified to render an opinion on the matter, but perhaps a few people in the right industries might formulate a credible opinion.

Aladain "A.J." LeBlanc



(14) comments

David Schuler

Maximum wind speeds specified in Chapter 16 of the 2012 International Building Code used here calls for new construction to withstand between 140 mph or 150 mph 3-second gusts. Michael was just at that level so whether a new construction building would survive depends on just how closely the contractor and architect followed the rules. No matter the codes, a direct hit by the eyewall of an almost-Cat 5 hurricane would do far more damage than we could imagine.

Randy Chapman

If a storm like Michael hit Galveston County, we'd pretty much be starting from scratch to begin the recovery. I pray we never have to experience anything close to that magnitude.

Susan Fennewald

It's hard to try and figure out how much damage Hurricane Michael would do. The pictures they keep showing of Mexico Beach, FL are deceptive. The houses that were destroyed were one story houses on a slab. It's like fish-village houses were sitting at Pirates beach. No one would expect them to survive. I assume they were built before Florida's stricter building codes were written.

George Croix

Wind speed.
Storm surge.
Two different issues from the same problem.
It's similar to the old "it's not the speed or distance of the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the bottom..."

Gary Miller

Michael culled the buildings that were not built to survive Michael. The same pictures that show bare slabs also show raised homes that survived. Is it cheaper to build the houses Michael can destroy or those that survive? Do it right once or do it over and over?

Jarvis Buckley

I very seldom disagree with SF she has a great knowledge of Galveston & it's obvious she is pro resident .
Which I agree with her on.
Mexico Beach is a different story. Many 2 story structures were completely destroyed. The whole town of 36,000 looks like Boliver did
after Ike. Their building standards are the highest. They took a hit like few have ever been through.My heart goes out to them.

Susan Fennewald

I try to base my opinions on accurate info. It's true I didn't look at every structure using the street view of Google maps, but many/most of the ones on the 3 or 4 streets I looked at, had been single story structures on a slab. I'll try looking at more. It's possible other parts of town are different. I looked at the parts of town that I saw on the photos of damage. I'll try looking at more.

George Croix

Is it really a matter of who's right, or is it more a matter of playing the odds when trying to bet against Ma Nature, no matter what building codes are in place.

Jarvis Buckley

Susan I hope you didn't take my remarks as criticism . I have a friend that lost 5 cottages on the beach there. They were built to the highest standards.

Susan Fennewald

Jarvis, I didn't take them as criticism - except as it may be constructive criticism. I'm just trying to understand what didn't work for them, and so what probably won't work for us in the future. I would really like to know what standards were not good enough. Let me know, if you know:

Jim Forsythe

You may want to read the story about one house that made it because of the way it was made.‘for-the-big-one’/ar-BBOobXS?ocid=spartanntp

George Croix

Not exactly a Pyrrhic victory, but close enough.................

Randy Chapman

Take the building codes out of the picture completely for a moment and look and the thousands of very large pine trees that have been snapped like twigs. Also look at the smaller trees that have no leaves on them and very few branches. The damage seen there is reminiscent of a tornado more than any storm we've ever had here. Bolivar during Ike was strictly storm-surge. In Mexico Beach, much of the damage was wind, with zero structures completely evading damage. So, if you build to 140-150MPH 3 second average gusts, no it's not going to stand up to 155MPH+ sustained with much stronger gusts. You can only build for so much wind without it becoming cost-phohibitive. Mother Nature has to remind us from time to time who is in charge. She made her point very clear in Florida.

Jarvis Buckley

Read NYT Patricia Mazzei article
regarding Mexico beach
Building code 120-150 mph southern
Florida 175 mph .

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