When Storm Ahead, the greatest danger to people and property is flying debris. Carried at such intense velocity, a 2 x 4 piece of lumber will become a missile that can slice through walls. Researchers for the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University say that concrete walls are strong enough to withstand flying debris from hurricanes and tornadoes. According to their findings, homes made of concrete are much more storm-resistant than houses constructed of wood and steel.

Storm Ahead

Concrete homes against the Storm

Reinforced concrete homes have proven their wind-resistance in the field during tornadoes and hurricanes. In Urbana, Illinois, a recently constructed insulating concrete form home withstood a 1996 tornado with minimal damage. In the Liberty City area of Miami, several concrete form homes survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992. In both cases, neighboring homes were destroyed. Monolithic Domes, which are made of concrete and rebar, have proved especially strong. The sturdy concrete construction combined with the dome shape make these innovative homes nearly impervious to tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Preliminary studies have found that poured concrete homes resist wind loads better than concrete block homes, with the additional benefits that poured concrete homes are faster to construct, require less onerous inspections, and provide a more easily installed, uninterrupted, thermal barrier of insulation.

The technology for designing and building tornado-resistant houses has been around since 1963 — almost half a century. It was first developed in America, not in continental North America, but instead in the American protectorate territory of the Marianas islands, primarily on the island of Guam. It utilizes the principle of "box-rigid-frame," a type of reinforced concrete shell design. The original houses used precast concrete walls which were fabricated at the building sites and tilted into position. The roofs utilized cast-in-place reinforced concrete. All of the elements of a house, floors, walls and roofs, were intimately connected with steel reinforcing bars in order to create a box, or shell. Instead of building storm shelters inside a house as is usually done in North America, the entire house becomes a storm shelter, a practice that was not used until the Guam typhoon-resistant reinforced concrete shell house concept was developed. So, want to build your home with concrete?

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