Building Codes and Disaster Mitigation

Hurricane Michael was one of the most destructive storms to ever hit Florida. At least 32 people died, numerous homes were destroyed, and those affected are facing millions of dollars in damages. The International Code Council remains committed to helping Florida in their time of need, and we send our deepest sympathies to those affected.

If you haven't already, please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross to support their disaster relief efforts at www.redcross.org. The Red Cross responds quickly after a disaster like Hurricane Michael to provide water, shelter, meals and more.

As we help the communities in Florida recover, we must also look to the future. The adoption and implementation of current building codes is one of the nation's strongest defenses against natural disasters and is a cost effective way of protecting what for many is their most important investment – their home or business. The International Codes (I-Codes) remain one of the best ways for communities to prepare to face future storms like Hurricane Michael.

The Code Council has taken the lead on ensuring that the resiliency benefits of modern building codes are at the forefront of the public debate. In early October, the U.S. Congress passed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, which provides new resources for disaster mitigation and supports the adoption and implementation of modern building codes. The Code Council worked closely with its members, partners, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Congress on this critical legislation. We developed a short guide that lays out the legislation details – download it here.

Also, this week the Code Council and the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations have joined forces to create a national, digital database of volunteers to assist local, state and federal entities who need skilled, trained and certified building safety professionals in the aftermath of a disaster. Please consider registering today to assist a jurisdiction in need when a crisis strikes at www.disasterresponse.org/register.

In the aftermath of the storm, state and federal leaders are speaking out about the importance of strong building codes for disaster mitigation.

"After every event, you always go back and look what you can do better. After Andrew, the codes changed dramatically in our state. Every time something like this happens, you have to say to yourself, 'Is there something we can do better?'"

Florida Governor Rick Scott

"The key to resiliency in this country is where our local officials and state officials are going to have to do something proactively to start passing building codes to high standards...Building codes, resiliency, pre-disaster mitigation is the answer."

FEMA Administrator Brock Long

"I just came from Panama City and Mexico Beach. It is unlike any other hurricane that I have seen, except Hurricane Andrew, which was 1992 south of Miami. It leveled Homestead, Florida. This leveled all of the structures that were old in Mexico Beach. They are rubble. The newer ones under the building code stood up."

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

"If insurance companies believe that the climate is changing and as a result it's going to create more and stronger hurricanes down the road, then we all have to believe it because we're going to have higher premiums and we have to adjust to that. That's why we have to improve building codes and do all sorts of work in infrastructure to adapt to that new reality."

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Read more here.

The Code Council heard from Bill LeVan, a Florida resident and the former executive vice president of Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, who saw the impact of the I-Codes first hand:

"I have a house in the Florida Panhandle near Panama City Beach, and my brother bought a house in Panama City Beach. Both homes were built to the new Florida Building Codes. We both evacuated during the hurricane and both returned expecting significant damage. What we found on returning were trees down, power off, and our homes completely undamaged. The codes worked and the product testing your guys do protected our homes. Thank you, ICC!!!"

As a building safety professional, we know that protecting your community and promoting resiliency is something you already do every day. Thank you for your dedication to the building safety mission.

Additional resources from the Code Council:
Disaster Response Alliance
Hurricane Michael devastates Florida Panhandle
Building Safety Month: Protecting Communities from Disasters
Hurricane Safety and Resources
Flood Safety and Recovery Tips