Weathering the Storm – A Case Study
A post-frame building in an RV part that was filled with debris and looked
like a war zone in all other directions.
There was a church with a steeple gone, a concrete block building with a
wall collapsed, and many other buildings with damage and trees
down all around. This building didn’t lose even a small piece, although
it was incomplete when the storm hit.
Challenge: Constructing buildings in the Southern, coastal United States capable of handling the load of hurricane winds.
Solution: Build properly-engineered post-frame structures according to the NFBA Post-Frame Building Design Manual for buildings capable of handling the load of a category five hurricane, such as Katrina.
Result: In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many non post-frame structures lay in ruins while properly engineered post-frame buildings remained standing tall.
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the National Frame Building Association (NFBA) reported that post-frame buildings in the southern coastal states stood tall amidst the rubble of other buildings nearby. The reports were no surprise to those familiar with post-frame construction who know that post-frame performs exceptionally well under tremendous wind, snow and seismic loads.
Right after Katrina and Rita, several NFBA members ecstatically reported how their post-frame buildings withstood the ravages. Patricia Askins of Longwood, Fla. emphatically stated, “Of all the hundreds of buildings we’ve built throughout Florida, we’re happy to report absolutely no problems except for minor damage to trim and other small architectural elements on just a few of them.” Another person impressed by post-frame’s durability was Jerry Wagner of Lake Wells, Fla. Wagner and other post-frame builders in Florida and Mississippi described miles and miles of demolished buildings, interrupted by the occasional post-frame building with little or no damage.
Wagner reported that one customer said, “I’m not complaining! My building is the only one left standing for 10 miles around.” There was another building next door to the structure Wagner erected, but the owner put it up himself. “The building he put up didn’t stand a chance against hurricane-force winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, but our pre-engineered building was fine,” Wagner said. “It highlighted for him the importance of hiring a professional builder who will erect buildings in accordance with building codes and structural engineering requirements appropriate for the area.”
Builder Dale Gay of Chunchula, Ala. noticed some breathtaking sights when he was driving around the countryside to see how his company’s buildings fared the storm. Strikingly, he noticed that his buildings stood out in a barren landscape otherwise dotted by piles of debris – many of which used to be buildings.
Gay described mangled stud-frame houses, twisted metal-framed structures, and a concrete block building that had an entire wall collapse. He compared the scene to a war zone. Buildings of all types in all directions were leveled; but not his post-frame ones.
Kevin Lawrence of Tallahassee, Fla., reported their area was hardest hit by the rash of storms that hit the state. “We erected a hangar at an airstrip in the greater Pensacola area,” he said. “There were a whole bunch of hangars there that got demolished. One not more than 12 feet away from one of our hangars was completely leveled to the ground, but our post-frame structure was unharmed.”
“We built one right on the coast in a residential area near Pensacola,” he continued. “They lost 12 houses in that neighborhood, but our building was left unscathed - except for the weather vane. Not one of our buildings suffered major damage.”
Kevin Dunn of Gainesville, Fla., noted: “There was airborne debris damage, but absolutely no major damage on any of our buildings. In fact, many Florida mobile home residents use post-frame buildings as hurricane shelters.” “We got hit in the eye of Hurricane Katrina with winds up to 175 miles per hour,” reported J. Montague of Biloxi, Mississippi, the owner of a post-frame structure. “My building held up immaculately.”