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25 Years After Andrew, Safe Home Advocates Fear For Florida Building Codes

August 24th, 2017 by Jake Stofan

25 years ago today Hurricane Andrew ripped through south Florida destroying more than 25,000 homes.

In the aftermath Florida beefed up its building codes to become the strongest in the nation, but a new law has safe home advocates worried Florida’s building codes are at risk.

Hurricane Andrew hit Florida with winds of 145 miles an hour.

The storm leveled more than 25,000 homes and damaged another 100,000.

Forty people died.

The economic cost? $24.5 billion.

Weak building codes and poor enforcement were blamed for the devastation.


“50% of the damage was caused because of the lack of enforcement,” said Rusty Payton, CEO of the Florida Home Builders Association.

Soon Afterwards Florida had the strictest building codes in the nation.

The new standards were put to the test in 2004-05 when eight hurricanes made landfall in the state.


“Our hurricane demonstrated that our codes worked beautifully,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

But a recent change in the law allowing building regulators to divert from international standards has safe home advocates worried.

Current standards can’t be rolled back under the new law, but regulators can choose which new standards to adopt.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes believes building regulators will choose not to adopt important new standards to cut costs.


“The very process that led to the devastation of Hurricane Andrew is exactly the same process that we’ve now embarked upon,” said Chapman-Henderson.

Homebuilders, who pushed the change say the new law allows the state to divert from burdensome and unnecessary changes while still keeping the standards most important to the state.


“The building commission will debate what the return on investment is for florida consumers if they want to bring these other products in that have nothing to do with the structural integrity,” said Payton.

Even with stronger homes, more people are living in high risk areas.

If Another storm with Andrew’s wallop were to hit the state, experts predict the damage would be more than ten times what it was in 1992.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts as many as 19 storms could develop by the end of this year’s hurricane season, which ends on November 30th.

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