Monday’s letters: Use smart building to mitigate hurricane damage

Monday’s letters to the editor
Published November 11 2018

Hurricane Michael

We can mitigate storm damage

Nearly a month after Hurricane Michael made landfall, much of the country has seemingly moved on to other news — the midterm election at the top of that list, especially in Florida with the looming recounts. Yet the reality of the storm’s impact will affect communities in the Florida Panhandle for years to come. If we, as a nation, insist on rebuilding in vulnerable areas, there are cost-effective ways to build a more resilient home that can survive storms even as strong as Michael.

What exactly is meant by resilient building? It means many things — from the way a door swings, the size of a nail, the use of straps to more securely attach a roof to the frame of a house — all small measures that can add up to make a big difference between a house that survives and one that is a total loss.

At the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s state-of-the-art research facility in South Carolina, scientists have been able to replicate extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes, hailstorms, and wildfires, and measure their impact on full-scale construction. That research has shown not only can resilient building and mitigation measures be effective, they also are affordable.

The property/casualty insurance industry will always be ready to help our policyholders put their lives back together in the aftermath of natural disasters. But frankly, if we can help prevent or minimize those losses in the first place, everyone will benefit.

This year new federal laws were enacted that will massively increase funding for state and local mitigation projects to reduce future storm losses. Research has shown that every dollar spent on mitigation can save as many as $8 in disaster losses, so even as the federal government incentivizes disaster preparation, the ultimate cost will be significantly lower for the taxpayers. Safe home construction shouldn’t be a luxury. We know our communities can be built to withstand even historic hurricane forces.

Jimi Grande, Washington, D.C.

The writer is senior vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.

Wrong-way drivers

Order drink, pass breath test

Regarding recent accidents on the Howard Frankland Bridge: The solution is to take keys from anyone ordering a drink at a bar and only to return them after passing a breath test. We need to stop drunk drivers from endangering the sober rest of us.

Charles Gordon, Brooksville

10 ways to combat global warming | Nov. 4

Tips that don’t work

In what world does this author live? After recommending electric cars (totally ignoring that electricity is mostly generated by burning fossil fuels), the author writes, “Choose a utility company that generates at least 50 percent of its power from solar or wind.” Where in America can consumers “choose” their utility company?

Steve Smith, Gulfport

Most changes sail through | Nov. 7

Unintended consequences

To all you folks who voted to stop greyhound racing: Make sure you never eat a steak, sit on leather furniture, go fishing or bake a turkey. You have doomed a breed.

Johnny Watters, Treasure Island