Hurricane Katrina Results in Stronger Products

Words: Dan KamysThis week marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history, battered the Gulf Coast. The lessons learned from this storm have led to significant efforts to rebuild stronger homes and buildings that are more resilient to flooding and high winds. New building codes and flood elevation maps adopted in the past decade have changed construction practices in the region, most notably requiring structures to be built at a higher elevation on wood pilings or tall masonry piers. In response to the changing building requirements, new products and resources have been developed to protect against future hurricanes. “We sent a team of four engineers to the region immediately after the disaster to see the damage firsthand and study how the homes and buildings fared,” said Randy Shackelford, R&D Engineer and Code Specialist at the Simpson Strong-Tie. “Afterward, we developed a high wind framing guide and offered lots of training sessions in the Gulf region on how to build safer, strong structures. With requirements for homes and buildings to be constructed on raised foundations, we developed new products to make it easier and more economical for builders to meet these requirements.” Simpson Strong-Tie designed and engineered the CCQM embedded column cap for use in raised pier foundations to make the connection from the wood beams to masonry. The new Strong-Drive® SDWH Timber-Hex HDG screw also makes connecting beams to wood pilings easier and more effective. The screw replaces bolts, washers and nuts in pilings, piers, boardwalks, and docks, requires no pre-drilling, and resists severe corrosion levels in heavy-duty marine and coastal applications. In addition to offering training on uplift and lateral wind-resistant construction, Simpson Strong-Tie developed several resources specifically for building professionals and homeowners in hurricane-prone regions. The Flood Resistant Construction Guide and the High Wind-Resistant Construction Catalog provide information on how to build safer, storm-resilient structures. Lessons Learned from Katrina documents local homeowners’ experiences on video and sheds light on the widespread damage caused by the hurricane while showcasing the importance of a continuous load path and high wind-resistant construction. Other materials include 5 Steps to a Safer and Stronger Home for homeowners. For more information about hurricane and high wind-resistant construction, visit  
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