Home Builders on the Scene in Early Ike Recovery Efforts
As residents in and around Houston and Galveston and western Louisiana continue to dig out of the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Ike, NAHB is working with local home builders associations and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies to set the stage for the massive rebuilding effort that will be needed to recover from the Category-2 storm.
Photos by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The restoration of electricity was a major challenge in a large swath of the area more than a week after the storm pounded the coastline on Sept. 7. The return of the population has been slow, and a comprehensive assessment of the damage, which is extensive, is only in the early stages. Almost 4 million customers were without power.
In some of the worst-hit locations, such as Galveston, which were flooded by a powerful storm surge, many home owners now have little, or nothing, to which they can return.
NAHB is working with HBAs to provide information that will help communities assess damaged structures, rebuild and address other issues that arise following natural disasters — such as alerting consumers on how to recognize and avoid unscrupulous contractors and hire builders or remodelers who will get the job done.
NAHB and the Greater Houston Builders Association have been asked by FEMA to assist in calculating the extent of the damage and to identify factors that caused structural damage to homes.
The nation’s home builders will also be working with FEMA to provide educational programs in the hazard-prone areas on new construction techniques based on newer codes and standards that have been developed specifically to deal with wind damage, flooding and other challenges brought under extreme weather conditions.
Builders from the Houston HBA were among the building officials, architects, engineers and other construction professionals who were dispatched to the Houston area on Sept. 18 to shortlist buildings and damage areas for further studies. This will provide the basis for recommendations to reduce future damage and property loss in hazardous areas.
Forensic engineering investigations will be looking for ways to increase damage resistance through improvements in construction codes and standards, designs, methods and materials used for both new construction and post-disaster repair and recovery.
Among the observations that have already been made:
- In Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas, approximately 400 homes ranging in price from $300,000 to $500,000 were completely destroyed by flood waters that extended landward in places for tens of kilometers. The beaches served as rims that contained the flood waters.
- Several feet of over-wash resulted in structural damage to more than 1,500 homes in Galveston. Most businesses located directly behind the city’s seawall escaped total destruction, but much of its beachfront was seriously damaged and large piles of debris were lodged against the seawall.
In addition, 10 buildings burned to the ground, another seven collapsed because of wind — including two apartment buildings — and huge portions of the island remained underwater following the hurricane. Of the approximately 7,000 documented historic properties on the island, about 1,500 were seriously damaged.
- In the Sabine Pass area of Texas — including Orange, Port Arthur and Beaumont — a 14- to 15-foot storm surge penetrated northward and severely affected several communities. An estimated 90% of the homes in Bridge City were flooded, with water levels as high as nine feet deep. Similar flooding occurred in Orange, Beaumont and several neighborhoods south of Interstate 10.
- In Louisiana’s Cameron Parish, a 12- to 15-foot storm surge comparable to Hurricane Rita in 2005 resulted in damage to at least 2,900 homes.
- In the Jean Lafitte-Barataria area of Jefferson Parish, La., surge waters overwhelmed makeshift levees and swamped perhaps hundreds of homes. Damage is expected to exceed what was suffered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita three years ago.
- Some 13,000 buildings were reported flooded in Terrebonne Parish, La.
- Deploying mobile wind towers and teams, the Institute for Business and Home Safety found widespread roof covering and siding damage in La Porte and in the Houston metropolitan area. This included shingle loss, but not the loss of sheathing. EIFS failures were noted on many commercial buildings. Where workmanship was poor, some brick veneer was lost. However, widespread structural failure or damage was not observed.
For more information on disaster assistance resources available from NAHB, e-mail Ken Ford, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8228.