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Hurricanes offer similar lessons for builders

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm •  Published: March 25, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy about how best to limit damage to buildings closely track those of Katrina, a federal engineer said Monday. Elevating generators and pumps is a good idea but enclosing elevated foundations that might be hit by waves or wave-borne debris can cause problems.

John Ingargiola, a structural engineer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the final report on Sandy is scheduled in the fall. But FEMA is releasing seven advisories for rebuilding and minimizing future flood damage for new construction, plus a fact sheet about cleaning and drying buildings.

Ingargiola's comments came during an early workshop at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans.

Photographs he showed from Sandy's destruction looked very much like those after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005: houses washed from their slabs or collapsed into their foundations, and critical equipment such as generators or switches flooded on ground floors or in basements.

"I think, together as a community, we need to think of ways to collaborate and get the message out" about storm-resistant construction, Ingargiola said.

After the session, he noted that Katrina's lessons were similar to those of Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Florida had a mishmash of local construction standards before Andrew destroyed neighborhoods south of Miami but imposed statewide regulations afterward and did much better in the storms of 2004-05, he said.

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