Clemson helps homeowners prepare for future hurricanes

September 21, 1999

CLEMSON, S.C.-- Property owners may be better prepared for the next hurricane to strike South Carolina thanks to Clemson University wind research and partnership efforts to put that information in the hands of the people who need it.

On Sept. 21, the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, Clemson is releasing a how-to guide for homeowners on ways to make both new and older homes stronger against the ravages of high wind.

Additional outreach efforts include Clemson's support of a demonstration site in Charleston and the hiring of a full-time coastal hazards specialist to work directly with homeowners, builders, engineers and architects on improved construction techniques and mitigation of hazards such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.

Clemson President Constantine W. "Deno" Curris said, "As a land-grant university, Clemson's role is not just to create new knowledge through research, but also to take the results of research directly to the people. These projects are perfect examples of how Clemson's tripartite mission of teaching, research and outreach can serve the needs of the state."

The how-to guide's core recommendations include creating wind-resistant exterior envelopes for homes, better-connected roofing systems and a "unitized" home structure in which major components are well connected to other components from the roof all the way through the foundation. The guide--"What homeowners can do to make their homes stronger against high winds"--will be available through Clemson Extension offices and online at .

"We wanted to develop dirt-cheap things people could do to make their homes stronger and more wind resistant," said Clemson associate civil engineering professor Tim Reinhold. Clemson has one of the nation's top laboratories for testing the effects of wind on low-rise structures such as homes and schools.

Meanwhile, full-time coastal hazards specialist Elizabeth Judge will help homeowners, builders, architects and designers apply the lessons learned through cutting-edge research at Clemson and elsewhere. The agent, one of the few nationwide to specialize in hazards such as wind, earthquake and flood, is co-funded by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and Clemson's Cooperative Extension Service.

Ultimately, homeowners will be able to see wind solutions in action at 113 Calhoun Street, a 125-year-old house in Charleston that serves as a Community Sustainability Center to demonstrate how housing can be built to better survive the forces of nature while being kinder to the environment.

The 113 Calhoun Street Foundation, a partnership of the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service and the city of Charleston, will demonstrate how people can use off-the-shelf, economically feasible materials and techniques to make houses safer from natural disasters such as hurricanes.

The center, which will serve as the home office for Judge, is tentatively set to open in February.

The wood frame home survived Hurricane Hugo in 1989, many additional hurricanes, at least one fire and, in 1886, the most severe earthquake ever recorded east of the Mississippi.

That it's a survivor makes it an appropriate choice for a project designed to show builders, contractors and homeowners how to use construction techniques and materials to better protect a house from storm wind and consequent water damage, according to Bob Bacon, Sea Grant Extension program leader. Bacon heads the technical committee of architects, engineers and builders who are designing and executing 113 Calhoun's renovation and retrofit.

"This project is about protecting lives, property and the economy when natural disasters occur," he said.

Clemson University

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