Stronger Impact, Together: Lessons from Hurricanes Irma and Andrew
It’s never an easy task to survey damage after a hurricane, especially one of the magnitude and intensity of Irma. While the damage can feel overwhelming, what is always more striking to me is the strength of neighbors and strangers coming together to help each other recover and heal. As we rebuild from the damage caused by the recent hurricanes, one thing is clear: we make a stronger impact, together.
This spirit of caring for each other always stays with me, long after the last home has been rebuilt. It’s why we do what we do at PGT Innovations. We build impact-resistant windows and doors to keep families safe, and that goes beyond manufacturing products. Following the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, we partnered with regulators across Florida to improve building codes to better prepare coastal regions for severe weather.
By working together to set standards that enforce safety, we are systematically building a more secure world. Part of this continuous work to build safer and smarter communities comes down to assessing storm damage and identifying ways to improve.
Our early findings assessing the structural damage brought by Irma shows that Florida was better able to weather the storm because of these tougher building and construction codes. We saw significant damage to older homes built before these new standards were put into place. The structural damage was caused not only by strong winds and debris, but by pressure extremes caused by strong winds entering the home through broken windows.
In contrast, newer raised homes with concrete structures and impact-resistant windows and doors fared much better. The difference we saw in the intensity of damage caused to newer vs. older homes was significant and striking. Strict building codes and impact-resistant windows truly do make a difference in how well a home can weather a storm.
As we come together once again to rebuild, we must continue to collaborate to generate new and better ways to prepare for the next storm. It has been gratifying to see how impact-resistant windows and doors helped limit wind-borne debris destruction. However, our work is far from over. Within my own company, our next steps are to continue working with the window and door industry to ensure that hurricane testing standards reflect what products underwent in Hurricane Irma.
For example, requiring missile impacts to the window framing members as well as requiring multiple impacts to the glazing—a criteria that was recently removed as a requirement in the Florida Keys. In addition, our engineers will use the findings from this storm to develop new ways to make stronger products. By partnering with the industry, we are doing our part in helping rebuild, because we know that we have a stronger impact when we work together.