Hurricane Michael flattened the Florida panhandle town of Mexico Beach last week, but there was one house that stood out amongst the wreckage, a waterfront home built last year by Russell King and his nephew Dr. Lebron Lackey. The duo “wanted to build it for the big one,” according to The New York Times. The “sand palace,” as they call it, was built to withstand 250 mile-an-hour winds and constructed using poured concrete and reinforced by steel cables and rebar. In addition to the materials, the space under the roof was minimized and the home was elevated on 40-foot pilings buried into the ground.
The story of how the sand palace made it through Michael while most of its neighbors collapsed is one about building in hurricane-prone Florida, and how construction regulations failed to imagine the Category 4 monster’s catastrophic destruction.
Florida’s building code, put into effect in 2002, is famously stringent when it comes to windstorm resistance for homes built along the hurricane-prone Atlantic shoreline. But it is less so for structures along the Panhandle, a region historically unaffected by storms as strong as the ones that have slammed into South Florida.
“Every time something like this happens, you have to say to yourself, ‘Is there something we can do better?’” Gov. Rick Scott told reporters, as public officials were called upon once again to examine the state’s building standards.Read More