President Biden has adopted the admonition used by many after Haiti’s earthquake in 2010: “build back better,” which has always sounded good. But I’ve been tracking earthquakes and hurricanes for over 20 years, and to this day can’t point to any substantive application of “building back better,” especially with regards to housing. Can you? This is painful to observe, especially when a resilient framing system is now available. It is called the HabiTek System.
I brought up HabiTek’s benefits in a blog back on October 21, 2019 titled “START FROM SCRATCH – USE STEEL.” It was written in reaction to Hurricanes Irma and Maria back in 2017, which impacted several Caribbean islands, especially Puerto Rico. By the way, engineering for hurricanes meets the same code requirements as designing for earthquakes.
Ida’s destruction of Grand Isle, LA, ©CNN
Last month was certainly a tragic one for disasters: the 7.2 earthquake in Haiti on August 14th and Cat. 4 Hurricane Ida in southern Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29th. The latter proceeded northward to New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania as a tropical storm causing severe flooding and killing around 52 people. Ida was proceeded last year by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, both Cat. 4 storms, and both struck in and around Lake Charles, Louisiana. This area is a long way from recovering. But the question still remains, what building material to use for the recovery and how best to employ it.
An excellent discussion on resilient building materials can be found in a White Paper prepared by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) in 2017, titled “The Impact of Material Selection on the Resilience of Buildings.” This essay clearly describes why steel framing is stronger and able to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes (even Cat. 4 & 5) if, of course, properly pre-engineered by design professionals.