Older homes vulnerable to wind damage

Older homes vulnerable to wind damage
Hurricane Iniki in 1992
Hurricane Iniki in 1992

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - According to the National Weather Service, as of Tuesday afternoon, predicted sustained wind speeds for Hurricane Iselle when it hits the islands is 45-55 miles per hour, with gusts in the 65-70 mile per hour range.

This poses a risk to many homes in Hawaii.

"Not only does the wind pressure blow in on the house, but there's also suction. It wants to blow the walls out, wants to blow the roof up" explained Frank Humay, PhD, Vice President of Baldridge and Associates Structural Engineering.

He noted there’s also a threat of flying debris with those kinds of winds. Building codes and technological improvements have newer homes better defended against these events. New structures are rated to withstand 105 mile per hour winds.

However, many of Hawaii’s single-wall, plantation style homes are at greater risk of sustaining damage. Humay explains why. "A lot of times the older ones were not designed for any type of wind or any type of seismic [activity]. They were just built".

Those homes are susceptible no matter where they are located.

"Ridgelines typically see the highest winds, but there are a lot of different effects that could occur. In some cases we've seen valleys increase the wind speed if they're funneled through a tight gap" explained National Weather Service Meteorologist Jordan Gerth.

Hurricane ties or clips can reinforce a home, but aren’t practical with Iselle and Tropical Storm Julio so close.

"You can't get in there and retrofit your house, obviously. You could put plywood over your windows. Something like that would help" Humay said.

Duct taping won’t reinforce large windows or sliding glass doors, but will help against flying shards if the glass shatters.

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