IS CONCRETE ROOFING THE BEST DEFENCE AGAINST HURRICANES?

anguillian
By anguillian October 23, 2017 11:39

 

 

Prior to, and up to, the year 1960, when Hurricane Donna struck Anguilla as a major weather system racing across the Atlantic, the sparse number of houses and other buildings had galvanise sheeting and wood as the main roofing materials.

However, Hurricane Donna swept away many galvanise roof structures. Galvanise or zinc, as it was commonly referred to in those days, was thought to have been much stronger and durable than today’s galvanise or galvalume being manufactured and used profusely in the construction industry.

Hurricane Donna was deemed to have taught Anguillians a lesson in the building trade and so, in the years that followed that record tropical storm, the majority of buildings was built with concrete walls and roofs with reinforced steel capable of withstanding powerful hurricanes.

Anguilla, which lies in the path of hurricanes, has long been regarded as having some of the best concrete houses and other buildings in the Caribbean. The fact that a fairly large percentage of the buildings have also been beautifully constructed with galvanise or galvalume roofs, has not significantly diminished that perception. However, powerful category 5 hurricanes, like Irma, have shown that most of the damage done to buildings were those with galvanise or galvalume roofs.
There are many tell-tale scenes of roofless buildings in many parts of the island. In the early aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and before the mass island-wide clean-up, bush lands, pastures, road sides, and other open areas were strewn with twisted and crushed galvanise or galvalume ripped off the buildings. Tree tops and utility poles were also scenes of the tangled material caught in mid-flight as dangerous missiles. These have all been chaotic and sad scenes of mass destruction.

On the contrary, concrete buildings, from the foundations to the roofs, have stood almost majestically intact over the ruins of blown off galvanise or galvalume roofs. The only damage to the concrete buildings was blown-out shutters and, to some extent, blown-off paint.

In choosing between buildings with galvanise or galvalume roofs and concrete buildings, persons have made such comparisons as follows: In the first category, construction costs are thought to be lower; the buildings are not so hot inside; but are susceptible to hurricane damage. In the second category, overall concrete buildings quickly go up with blocks and steel, but nevertheless are costly; retain considerable high temperatures inside; the walls and roofs crack and leak over a period of time; and the buildings are susceptible to earthquakes.

Hurricanes, and not earthquakes, are more frequent in Anguilla and for that reason concrete roofs appear to be generally popular on the island, notwithstanding the drawbacks mentioned above. Now that Hurricane Irma has devastated Anguilla, there are reports and scenes of a number of affected persons changing their roofs from galvanise/galvalume to concrete as the best defence against hurricanes. But subject to correction, there are reports that some insurance companies are not so keen to allow the change over which may be understandable given the additional costs and payout involved.

In any case, it is expected that going forward many more concrete roofs will pop across the island as a result of Hurricane Irma.

anguillian
By anguillian October 23, 2017 11:39

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