A hurricane is a destructive storm system that rotates around low-pressure areas producing heavy rains and strong winds blowing at 63 knots. This storm system’s sheer strength and ferocity can flatten numerous residential houses within a few seconds. The occupants residing in these buildings will first notice the roofs tearing off from the impact of the hurricane’s powerful winds. They then can see the hydrodynamic forces resulting from the overland storm surge and flooding demolish the supporting walls and buildings’ foundation.
Reddy Kancharla is a renowned civil engineer and geotechnical consultant from Briarcliff Manor in New York City. He has over 25 years of valuable industry-based experience in the areas of civil construction, implementing construction quality control standards, and geotechnical consultancy. Moreover, he even specializes in many diverse areas within the civil engineering profession. These include scrutinizing structural failures, devising remedial designs, rectifying construction discrepancies, supervising the scheduling of construction projects, and complying with ISO quality standards. He is the brainchild behind the construction of many prominent landmarks in New York. These include Yankee Stadium, the terminal buildings of JFK Airport, and the USTA National Tennis Center.
Threat to homeowners
According to him, hurricanes represent the single biggest threat to owners of residential homes in coastal areas. Civil engineers responsible for constructing these buildings follow the stringent building codes that authorities in these places impose on the letter. They use these standards as guidelines for constructing hurricane-proof residential houses for their clients. In doing so, they often insist the owners choose suitable high grounds as the locations for building their homes. This is because these places are less prone to extensive flooding than other regions. Then, the construction specialists choose the following materials to construct foundations, supporting walls, and roofs:
- Reinforced concrete for the foundations because it is durable, water-repellent, and fire-resistant,
- Insulated concrete forms which withstand strong winds without shattering for building the walls,
- Impact glass for the windows with polycarbonate plastic shutters to resist strong wind and debris, and
- Steel hurricane roof clips and tie-down straps to attach the wooden-roof trusses to the walls.
In collaboration with architects, civil engineers rely on the square, octagonal or hexagonal building design plans to construct the houses. They even raise the foundations of these buildings to be above the storm-surge water level. This safeguards the critical system within the houses like the HVAC, telecommunication, and electrical cables. Some of them also install flood vents to the buildings’ foundation as additional protection again flood-water damage. Most civil engineers even instruct the contractors to apply spray polyurethane foam (SPF) throughout the underside of the buildings’ roofs. This chemical product acts as adhesive to strengthen the various components which comprise the roofs and helps to avert air penetration.
In the opinion of Reddy Kancharla, people living in hurricane-prone regions can construct strong residential houses for their families. To do so, they need to hire civil engineers who have the relevant experience and industry-based knowledge in constructing hurricane-resistant buildings. Moreover, they should have a good reputation in the market. Only these building experts can make their dream homes into a reality,