OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
3:00 PM – Sunday, November 5, 2023
Five years ago Hurricane Michael caused significant damage to the Florida Panhandle, wiping out approximately 60,000 homes and $25 billion in total damages, however, certain homes were built well enough to withstand the Category 5 winds and now developers are working to replicate those to survive severe weather in the future.
Bonny Paulson, a resident in a small coastal community of Mexico Beach, Florida, recalled the evacuation warning for Hurricane Michael.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” she said.
Paulson’s home was still standing after the hurricane destroyed the majority of surrounding homes in her neighborhood. Her house reportedly only lost a few shingles. Some builders are already constructing residences like Paulson’s with a focus on enhancing resilience while simultaneously being environmentally conscious.
Developers are focusing on a number of things, like mitigating the risk of flooding from hurricanes. Some residential sites are elevated three feet above code to avoid flooding. Similarly, roadways are also raised and engineered to redirect rainwater runoff away from the area, promoting absorption into the ground.
Some builders are using steel roofs with tightly sealed seams to facilitate the secure attachment of solar panels, making it hard for strong winds to get beneath them. Additionally, some houses are equipped with backup batteries that activate when the power supply is disrupted.
In terms of being environmentally-friendly, some developers are utilizing recycled or advanced construction materials that not only reduces energy consumption but also lessens the demand for new resources.
Preserving wetlands and native vegetation is also a top priority, as it helps sequester carbon in the soil and reduce vulnerability to flooding.
Deltec, the firm responsible for constructing Paulson’s home, reports that out of the nearly 1,400 homes it has built in the last 30 years, only one has experienced structural damage due to severe weather.
The company places equal importance on environmentally conscious construction practices. This includes utilizing superior insulation that minimizes the necessity for air conditioning, implementing heat pumps for more efficient temperature control, installing energy-efficient appliances, and incorporating solar energy solutions.
“The real magic here is that we’re doing both,” chief executive Steve Linton. “I think a lot of times resilience is sort of the afterthought when you talk about sustainable construction, where it’s just kind of this is a feature on a list … we believe that resilience is really a fundamental part of sustainability.”
Amid the backdrop of climate change leading to more severe hurricanes and costly disasters, developers are crafting homes that are capable of enduring extreme weather conditions.
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