Local News

Retrofitting Now May Prevent Hurricane Headaches Later

Posted July 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— When storms as vicious as Hurricane Fran come ashore, coastal homes, old and new, don't often survive. But there are certain things you can do to hurricane-proof your beach house to improve its chances of standing up to another strong storm.

Like the rest of us, Vivian Wolfe weathered Hurricane Fran wondering if her Wilmington home would ever be the same. The house survived, and thanks to changes being put into place this week, it's better than it's ever been.

Construction crews are "retrofitting" Wolfe's home to make it more durable against violent weather. The process includes special brackets and steel rods that tie the home together, from the roof to the foundation. A federal grant from a partnership called "Blue Sky" is paying for Wolfe's improvements to make a point.

"Blue Sky" architect, Ben Cahoon, says by working on Wolfe's home, he is able to demonstrate that yes, you can retrofit a home to be more resistant against hurricanes. You can do it easily, without a lot of destruction to the building.

Organizers want every North Carolina homeowner to consider retrofitting. Even though you would have pay for the improvements now, disaster agencies like FEMA say it will cost less than paying for repairs later.

"When something like this comes around again, homes will be strengthened," says FEMA Coordinator David Thomas. "They will be elevated, or out of harms way altogether, and FEMA dollars can be more wisely spent on other initiatives."