Monday, May 26, 2008

Regulations? I don't need no stinkin' regulations!

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of building codes for the protection of property from natural hazards. According to the Wharton School document "Managing Large-Scale Risks in a New Era of Catastrophies,"

"Based on a sample of over 5,600 homeowners impacted by Hurricane Charley in 2004, residences built under the wind-resistant standards that were enfoced in 1996 had a claim frequency that was 60 percent lower than those that were built pre-1996. Claims for pre-1996 damaged homes resulted in an average of $24 per square foot compared to $14 per square foot for those constructed between 1996 and 2004." p 297

Updated standards should improve the resilency of the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. The Christian Science Monitor has an article "The New Gulf: Safe Enough?"

This article chronicles some of the issues that have risen during rebuilding. To note a common theme, the subheading of the article states "Post-Katrina building is booming. But conflict is rising over safety regs vs economic needs."

I found this part particularly interesting:

"Bay St. Louis is appealing to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider how high off the ground new buildings must be to qualify for federal flood insurance. In certain low-lying places, buildings need to sit on stilts 18 feet high, FEMA has ruled. The town counters that the requirement puts the structures at risk of wind damage and wants a lower requirement. Some say the town's action is rooted more in nostalgia than in science. "People [are] upset because the elevations mean the town wouldn't look the same, and it was a beautiful town, Bay St. Louis," says Steve Champlin, Mississippi's flood-mapping coordinator, in Jackson. "

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