__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 4

4

Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

GUEST EDITORIAL: ROY WRIGHT

When Extreme Weather and a Crisis Collide: The Case for Building Stronger in Alabama Dixie Alley is a hot spot for severe weather, with Alabama facing the threat of tornadoes each spring and again in the fall. Even in the break between those months, lies hurricane season. The state has been spared from a major tropical storm in recent years, but that won’t last. As Hurricane Michael reminded us, those less frequent weather systems regularly produce high winds deep into inland counties and often spin off tornadoes statewide. This year, severe weather has followed its normal storyline – more than two dozen tornadoes already impacting Alabama and predictions of an above average hurricane season. This spring, the country rightfully turned its attention to COVID-19. Yet, deadly storms in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas reminded people here and across the South that they face the potential of two very different but quite formidable disasters. A pandemic and severe weather both deserve our full attention, and Easter weekend they demanded it. In the wake of devastating storms, our appreciation for a strong place to call home grows and likewise, as we’ve hunkered down to slow the spread of coronavirus, it has also amplified the need for a strong roof over our heads in times of trouble. While we’re hopeful the worst of coronavirus will soon pass, it has made it clear — in severe weather-prone areas like Alabama — residents must always be prepared to deal with more than one crisis. Mother Nature will always be with us and, while she cannot be tamed, when considered in relation to unknown future risks, she’s the one we are best equipped to plan for now. We are not powerless against severe weather. At the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety research center in Richburg, S.C., a team of scientists meticulously recreate extreme weather events with windspeeds up to 130 mph and study their interactions with fullscale homes and commercial buildings. Decades of research and testing led to the national standard for stronger building. Called Fortified Home, it is a set of voluntary, beyond-code building practices centered around stronger connections to hold the roof onto the

house, reinforced roof edges to further withstand high winds, and a sealed roof deck to prevent rain from entering even during high winds that may blow off shingles. Alabama’s coastal counties are shining examples of what is possible when we commit to strengthen our homes to reduce damage from severe weather. Following devastating damage from Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, thousands of homes in Baldwin and Mobile counties were built back or re-roofed to the Fortified standard. In fact, Alabama leads the nation with more than 13,000 Fortified homes, almost entirely in those two counties. Considering the frequency and severity of tornadoes in Central and North Alabama over just the last decade, it’s time to take what has worked to reduce the loss along Alabama’s coast to the rest of the state. While no home or building is hurricane- or tornado-proof, homes built to this standard have proven to be more durable through EF-2 tornado and Category 3 hurricane winds, narrowing the path of damage and reducing the number of displaced families. When coastal North Carolina was battered by Hurricane Dorian last year, 99.5 percent of homes built to the fortified standard made it through the storm avoiding damage significant enough for an insurance claim. At no time has the importance of preparing for that worst day been clearer. Now, even as we practice “safer at home,” I would urge Alabamians to prepare for severe weather in meaningful ways that are still possible. The dual crises we face now show the importance of escalating the pace of beyond-code building in Alabama, making it more accessible in both coastal and inland communities, particularly those that will soon start to repair and rebuild from these recent storms. Improving the performance of buildings against natural disasters and reducing the risk of repeated losses readies us for a time when the virus is contained but Mother Nature still is not. w Roy Wright is president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Subsidiary of EVENT Publishing

Publisher/President ................................................................ Todd Stephenson Editor .......................................................................................... Bud McLaughlin Writers.........................................................................................Kimberly Ballard Lori J. Connors Mike Easterling Graphic Design ............................................................................. Justina Simon Website................................................................................................ Jim Gharib Photographers...................................................................................Steve Babin Kimberly Ballard Eric Schultz Justina Simon Director of Sales ................................................................. Carolyn Stephenson Account Executives...............................................................................Lee Nast Amanda Peach Michelle Epling Distribution......................................................................................Glenda Mace Huntsville Business Journal is published monthly by EVENT Publishing,

PO Box 14219, Huntsville, AL 35815. For advertising information call 256.533.8078, e-mail todd@eventhuntsville.com, or visit us on the web at www.huntsvillebusinessjournal.com For editorial information contact editor@huntsvillebusinessjournal.com ALL CONTENTS ©2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION OR USE IN WHOLE OR IN PART OF THE CONTENTS WITHOUT THE PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER IS PROHIBITED. HUNTSVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF EVENT PUBLISHING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. UNSOLICITED PHOTOGRAPHS OR ARTICLES ARE SUBMITTED AT THE RISK OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER OR AUTHOR. EVENT PUBLISHING ASSUMES NO LIABILITY FOR THE RETURN OF ANY UNSOLICITED MATERIALS AND MAY USE THEM AT ITS DISCRETION.

Profile for EVENT Magazine

June 2020  

June 2020 issue

June 2020  

June 2020 issue

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded