In the wake of this week’s destructive spate of tornados across the American Southeast, Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) consisting of civic organizations, fire service professionals, architects, engineers and industry experts committed to enacting safer and more sustainable building standards, has released a video promoting the safety advantages of building with concrete. The three-minute video predominantly features the use of wind tunnels, or simulated high-velocity wind machines, designed to replicate the potential debris damage in a violent storm or tornado.
Sunday’s storms, the deadliest in Alabama in eight years, saw at least 18 tornadoes touch down in a matter of hours. Tornados were reported in Georgia and Florida as well. In Alabama, one tornado left a 24-mile long, one-mile wide path, with winds estimated to have reached 170 miles per hour. In some cases, those within a tornado’s range received as little as a five-minute warning. Officials have confirmed 23 victims, all in Alabama, and three of which are children. Rescue teams continue to search ruined houses and nearby areas for survivors.
“The Texas Tech-led wind tunnel experiments illustrate the critical need for greater wind-related disaster preparedness, starting with the materials and methods we use in construction,” says Kevin Lawlor, spokesperson for Build with Strength. “Watching this video for the first time was an eye-opening experience. It is one thing to envision the power of high-velocity wind through research and testimony, but another thing entirely to watch a four-by-four cut through wood like a knife through butter.””
As in the case of the recent tornadoes in Alabama, there is often very little time to prepare. Build with Strength aims to ensure those in vulnerable areas are as protected as possible before tragedy strikes. Concrete, Lawlor says, fares far better than wood in the wind tunnel experiments – fired at 100 miles per hour, the four-by-fours shatter and explode against the concrete test panel.
“While tornadoes and hurricanes can’t be prevented, the damage caused by them can be greatly mitigated,” says Lawlor. “By choosing to build with the right materials – in this case, reinforced concrete – we are choosing to be prepared. We are choosing safety.”
Build with Strength works with communities, lawmakers, and industry employees to advocate for safer, sustainable building materials. Strengthening local and national building codes is among the organization’s top priorities.
To view Build with Strength’s wind test video, please visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=azzUIDiAiTc.
For more information on Build with Strength, please visit www.buildwithstrength.com.