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kcrossley2 12-18-2006 04:47 PM

Crawl-space and hurricanes?
In a few months we'll be moving into a new crawl-space home in southern Virginia. Although the area we're moving to doesn't have many hurricanes, it does get a few.

We've always lived in houses with basements. My wife is extremely fearful of hurricanes and she has continually raised concerns about this. Recently, the builder advised us that they were improving the construction of our home to withstand 120 MPH winds because of a previous hurricane named Isabel. Prior to this the code was for 90 MPH winds.

So here are my questions. In the event of a hurricane, where is the best place to go in a house with no basement? Are crawl-space homes as strong as basement homes with poured foundations? I'm just trying to put her mind at ease.

concretemasonry 12-18-2006 05:10 PM

Crawl-space and hurricanes?
A crawl space provides no protection from hurricanes. The stick built home on top of the foundation (slab, block or poured concrete) is still the same.

A full block or concrete basement would provide additional mass to resist the uplift if the contractor used a proer connection to the foundation.

If the builder really was conscientious, he would have include a "safe room" built to the requirements established by FEMA about 5 years ago. these requirements include provisions for doors, anchorage and ceilings.

In some areas, the walls must be built to similar standard and the only materials suitable are reinforced concrete or reinforced block. Even kevlar reinforced plywood does not work for the projectile protection requirements.

kcrossley2 12-18-2006 05:27 PM

Then I guess the best solution is to simply leave the area.

Tscarborough 12-18-2006 05:53 PM

That is always the best solution, unless, at a minimum, you like living without electricity for a few days, or at worse, are killed.

I have stayed for some, left for most, but have always been prepared.

kcrossley2 12-18-2006 05:56 PM

This area is pretty prone to power outages so a Kohler Generator will probably be one of our first purchases after we move in.

HarryHarley 12-18-2006 06:16 PM


Originally Posted by kcrossley2 (Post 27355)
This area is pretty prone to power outages so a Kohler Generator will probably be one of our first purchases after we move in.

I went thru Katrina. Your best bet is to keep up with the news and leave if you feel you must. Yes, a good 5,500 watt generator is what kept us going (34 days without electricity) If you stay (like I did) be very very prepared. Have the ability to be self sufficient for 1 to 2 weeks. Food, water and fuel are the basics. Good luck

kcrossley2 12-18-2006 06:31 PM

Do you have a storm cellar or something similar?

HarryHarley 12-18-2006 06:56 PM


Originally Posted by kcrossley2 (Post 27359)
Do you have a storm cellar or something similar?

No storm cellar. We have no basements here either. Moved here 25 years ago from Wisconsin and sure miss basements. Here most homes are built on slabs. Only choice we have is a windowless bathroom in the middle of the house. A big bathtub to sit in if we feel threatened. If I was building my house today and money was no object I might think of a concrete reinforced bathroom. However, I would have only used once in 30 years. Depending on where you live, like in my case, wind was not the problem. Although we had sustained 105 to 115 mph winds for 6 hours, that didn't hurt the house. It was the 30 inch diameter 60 foot tall "flying" trees that hurt! Now fortunately or not, we have no trees within 50 yards from the house. That problem solved.

kcrossley2 12-18-2006 07:03 PM

It's funny you mentioned that. When we went down to flag the trees we wanted taken down I told the contractor that I wanted all of the potential house killers taken down. Most were what I call "telephone pole" pine trees which are kinda ugly unless bunched together in a forest with other similar trees.

I did leave two huge birch trees standing that are about 100-125 feet tall and are beautiful. If they go and they fall on our house we're toast, but they were too spectacular to remove. Besides, they're both in very good health and will probably outlast us all.

concretemasonry 12-18-2006 10:07 PM

kcrossley2 -

I lived in Chesapeake for about 5 years and understand the "telephone pole" trees that are really not an asset. The only good thing is they might let a breeze through under the tops. If you happen to be in the Strawbridge area of Virginia Beach it is almost a guarantee you will have oceanfront (someday).

After living in VA and recently spending 5 months assesing Katrina damage, I would say get out!! Unfortunately both places have very limited emergency routes out. Tidewater has the tunnel bottlenecks and New Orleans/So. Miss have few good roads going inland.

The strom surge problems are unbeleivable and unfortunately are not appreciated by the public. On top of that, the low elevations lead to saturated ground down a couple of feet, so wind can do a job on the trees and cutting off the power for long periods.

Outside of the damage from the 28' storm surge on the coast, most of the real $$ damage I saw was really due to mold. Roofs went off/leaked, water leaked in, roads got blocked and people could not air out the house. It does not take long for mold to take off in August. The result is mold and most of it is never really eliminated. Few people that repaired did not bother to renail and replace the nails in the salt water saturated wood. Many of the homes that survived hurricane Camile went down because the old repairs were only superficial and the old wood was rotted and nails were bad.

From the wind alone - Wood frame homes with vinyl got racked so badly all sheet rock had to be replaced. Adjacent homes, even with just partial brick veneer, were rigid enough to save most of the rock. The all masonry homes came through fine and were repaired and occupied in short order. Turbine fans came off and opened up the insulation to the rain, causing ceilings to come in.

If I was in the Tidewater, Virginia area, I would have generator, fuel it up, close the locked cage around it and leave for Charlottesville for a couple of days.

HarryHarley -

Your reinforced bathroom is similar to what FEMA suggested. I have heard about some builders putting in 2 reinforced bathrooms (one in the basement or first floor and one above). the FEMA standards are based on a 12' long 2x4 fired out of an air cannon at a wall with no penetration to the inside of the wall.

kcrossley2 12-18-2006 10:51 PM

Actually, were moving a little west to Williamsburg.

OrdyMon 01-15-2007 01:24 PM

Ya know I've lived in the Tidewater area for 20 years. Va. Beach to Hampton. Tell your wife not to worry to much, this is not New Orleans. We flood down here tidal mostly.

concretemasonry 01-15-2007 02:50 PM

Crawl-space and hurricanes?
OrdyMon -

You are dreaming if you live in Tidewater and do not repect the power of a hurricane. You have just had dumb luck!!

New Orleans had a lot of flooding from the levee overtopping. You never heard about the real hurricane damage because of the phoney TV coverage and hunt for glamorous, controversial stories. Have you ever head of Slidell?, Bay St. Louis? Little Viet Nam? Ocean Beach? Waveland?

I lived in Tidewater and spent 6 months in MS and New Orleans. You have just been lucky and do not realize what a real hurricane is AND and storm surge. I talked to a lot of unfortunate people that thought like you at one time.

Forget about the tunnels being useful!! You will not be able to move before and definitely for a week after. The screwed up traffic patterns, lack of exit routes, backwaters make Tidewater a potential time bomb. The safest people are the sub crews.

You can have a storm surge in as far as Langely. When the hurricane leaves, Cheasapeake Bay reverse (outflow) storm surge water will go down the intercoastal waterway (yes, down south) and possibly up the river toward Richmond.

A couple feet of water in your house will result in $100,000 damage when you are done. Forget about your appliances, furnaces, heat pumps and electrical outlets. Then you start stripping sheet rock and renailing studs and joists. If you don't have reising water, the roof damage will saturate your fiberglass and drop the ceiling. Since you don't have power, you cannot ventilate (August humidity in Virginia?) so you know how much mold you will have.

I jsut hope others in Ttidewater do not think like you!!


mighty anvil 01-16-2007 06:53 AM

I don't know what good a basement would be if there is a storm surge or flooding. The reinforced bathroom or closet sounds like the best bet if you can't evacuate. There should be plenty of information about how to protect yourself online.

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