MIAMI—After Hurricane Andrew pummeled Florida 25 years ago and leveled entire blocks of homes, local and state officials responded by creating some of the strictest building codes in the U.S., hailed by many as a model.
Florida adopted a new statewide building code in 2002 that included a host of new requirements, including the use of stronger roof fasteners, nails instead of staples and impact-resistant windows in certain areas. It increased the amount of wind pressure homes must withstand and added more-detailed and rigorous inspections of building plans.
With Hurricane Irma—among the strongest Atlantic storms in history—closing in on South Florida, those regulations could face their toughest test yet.
More is at risk than when Andrew hit in 1992—Florida’s population has grown more than 50% to 20.6 million and real-estate development has boomed. Housing units in Miami-Dade County increased 30% from 1990 to nearly 1 million in 2015 according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The county’s population has swelled in tandem, to 2.65 million in 2015 from 1.94 million in 1990—a 37% increase.
A hurricane like Irma “is something we have been fearing for a long time,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.
CoreLogic Inc., a financial and property data analytics company, calculates that there are more than 2.7 million homes at risk along 1,350 miles of Florida’s coast, according to a 2017 report. The metropolitan area encompassing Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach had the greatest…Read More