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Oct 15, 2001

Engineer: house must be one unit to fight storm

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Iris, our cameras captured many strange sights, but one recurring oddity was that while some seemingly substantial properties were completely destroyed, others, which to the eye appeared weaker, survived virtually unscathed. But local engineers tell News 5 that this was no phenomenon, rather, the product of sensible engineering. As the re-building gains momentum, civil engineer Omar Mitchell recommends simple yet efficient construction methods that can diminish hurricane damage.

Omar Mitchell, Structural and Civil Engineer

“Rafters have to be tied to the building by straps. And in Miami, this is now an integral part of the code of construction. That the different structural members all have to be integrated in such a way that the entire building act as a unit and in this way hurricane winds are adequately catered for. In instances where roofs fell off and entire roofs flew off, it means that in effect that roofs are strongly built. Where the weak points is the connection between the roofs and the building itself, the structure itself.

The same way I’ve told you that the detailing of the roof to the structure, we also have to detail the columns, the stilts to the building. The entire building must we tied together by metal hoops, by metal straps, by metal sections. And it has to be braced and bolted together so that the entire building act as one. What happens is that…you heard the old saying, that the weakest point of a chain is the weakest link. It’s the same thing for a building, a building will collapse if say for example the foundations are not tied properly to the building or the roof is not tied properly to the structure itself. The building must act as a unit and must behave as such to adequately withstand the forces of the hurricane.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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