Moore, Oklahoma: New Building Codes in Effect to Protect Tornado City

Image: Moore, Oklahoma: New Building Codes in Effect to Protect Tornado City A flag is placed in the foundation of a flattened home a day after a tornado devastated the town Moore, Oklahoma, in May 2013.

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 08:46 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Moore, Oklahoma has adopted stringent building codes that went into effect Thursday to protect the city from the destruction of future tornadoes. The city is the first in the United States to mandate stricter building codes in response to a natural disaster.

A year after a massive tornado killed 24 people and injured nearly 400, the city now requires that homes be built to withstand winds of 135 mph. According to KFOR-TV, the nationwide accepted building standard is for homes to be able to withstand winds of up to 90 mph.

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After the damage from the May 2013 tornado, the Moore City Council approved 11 building code recommendations.

"We have seen from this tornado, progressive construction techniques that can survive strong winds," Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis told The Oklahoman. "We can learn from this devastating event to build stronger homes and neighborhoods across the United States — and it starts in Moore."

Other new requirements for homeowners include roof sheathing, hurricane clips, and wind-resistant garage doors. The codes don’t apply to residents who have already finished rebuilding since last year's tornado or who are in the process now.

The Oklahoman reported that the new standards could raise home prices by $1 per square foot, which translates to $1,500 to $2,500 more per home.

Oklahoma University civil engineering professor Chris Ramseyer told KFOR-TV that the higher costs for homes will be worth it in the long run.

"This last tornado is over $2 billion in costs and with better homes, stronger buildings, that destructive force will be minimized and the cost will be minimized," Ramseyer said. "It's a very small expense for the homeowner. We're talking one or two cents per dollar on a home."

Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, sits in the heart of "tornado alley." Prior to last year's tragedy, it was hit with tornadoes in 1999 and 2003.

"There will be more tornadoes," Moore City Councilman Terry Cavnar told The Oklahoman. "The May 20 tornado won't be the last. We thought the 1999 tornado was it, and we were wrong."

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