May 5, 2014

You know how they always ridicule liberals for being "big brother" types who support things like minimum building standards?

Well, take a look at the devastation in Arkansas and figure out why.

At a subdivision to the southwest of town, the official survey results read,"Houses completely destroyed; only slabs remaining at several places. No anchor bolts used in foundations."

So what does this mean?

While the article points out using cut nails to secure homes to the foundation is widely practiced and the minimum standard in most of the building codes - Dr. David Prevatt, Associate Professor of Civil and Coastal Engineering at the University of Florida says they may not provide enough security in high winds.

"It is my opinion that cut nails can only be considered a temporary connection while installing a wall," Dr. Prevatt says. "They are in no way, shape or form have the capacity to resist the sliding loads or the uplift loads reduced by high winds that impact the walls of a building."

Which means, without those anchor bolts, it took less wind to sweep houses away in Vilonia. This explains the EF4, and not EF-5, rating the NWS ultimately gave.

And while the NWA says the "odds are remote that any one location is impacted by such a tornado," Dr. Prevatt still believes the construction standards need to be examined to reduce casualty rates.

"Bottom-line," Prevatt says, "we either build them (our houses) stronger or communities must accept that certain number of homes randomly selected by nature's wrath, will be blown away and kill people in every moderately strong tornado for the foreseeable future."

Yeah, why would builders take the extra step of securing their handiwork in the event of a tornado? It's only human life, after all.

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