The gulf coast is a beautiful place to live. There are hundreds of miles of Texas beaches and outdoor activities abound. The natural beauty comes with some potential hazards though. Let’s face it, no matter where we choose to call home, there are challenges. Some parts of the country have earthquakes, others have flooding, blizzards, mudslides, forest fires, etc. Those are just the natural hazards. Some areas have staggering unemployment, crime, economic woes and more to deal with. Texas, and the Gulf coast region particularly, is blessed with many amenities including it’s natural beauty, but we have wind, and that is why we want to take a moment to talk about Wind Zones and Wind Zone Safety. Wind often takes the form of tornadoes and hurricanes. If you live in a Corpus Christi mobile home, you may be in a safer situation than previously thought.
Wind Zone Safety Studies
New studies have brought to light some interesting facts regarding the safety of manufactured homes. When a manufactured home is properly set and securely fastened to a permanent foundation, it can be at least as safe as a site built home that isn’t subject to Wind Zone regulations. A study (Hurricane Survivability for Manufactured Housing: A Case Study in Disaster Mitigation for Low-Income Housing) conducted by Dr. K.R. Grosskopf of the University of Florida examined the performance of manufactured homes in Florida during the 2004 hurricane season. Four hurricanes struck Florida that year. The study concluded that manufactured homes built using post 1994 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) building codes, “survived an unprecedented 2004 hurricane season with little damage,” They also found that “none of the 4,056 post-1994 homes surveyed were destroyed or seriously damaged.”
HUD’s Involvement with Mobile Home Standards
In 1974, the National Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act was passed by Congress and is known as HUD code. Since that time, manufactured housing has been regulated to insure health and safety standards for the industry. Site-built houses are not subject to these same federal safeguards. In 1980, HUD wind and storm regulations were included in the law. That was amended in 1994 and required manufacturers to comply with home building standards based upon HUD’s wind zone map which highlights storm susceptibility. These regulations required manufacturers to improve exterior wall and roof engineering and construction, as well as anchoring systems.
Wind Zone Ratings
According to HUD’s Basic Wind Zone Map, there are 3 classifications of interest to manufacturers and homeowners. Wind loads are measured in pounds per square foot. Manufacturers design homes to withstand the stress that wind loads apply during a high- wind event. These designs are based on the wind zone region the home is intended for.
Wind Zone I
Wind Zone I manufactured homes are built to withstand a 70 mph sustained wind speed. A Wind Zone I home cannot be set up in a Zone II or III area according to code. These are designed and constructed to at least original 1976 standards.
Wind Zone II
Wind Zone II manufactured homes are built to withstand 100 mph sustained winds. This zone is generally the inland portions of Zone III. A Zone II home can be set in a Zone I or II area, but not in a Zone III area.
Wind Zone III
Wind Zone III manufactured homes are built to withstand 110 mph sustained winds. This zone encompasses the gulf coast region of Texas and several other states and includes the eastern seaboard. A house designed and built under Wind Zone III code can be placed in Zones I, II, or III areas.
See the Basic Wind Zone Map for more information from FEMA on wind zone requirements.
Corpus Christi Mobile Homes
If you live in the Corpus Christi area or anywhere along the Gulf Coast, wind damage is a concern. This is true whether your home is manufactured or site-built. Recent studies indicate that manufactured homes are at least as safe as site-built homes. Higher standards for manufactured homes have improved performance during weather events, but there are still some things you should know if you want to mitigate property damage and make it through the next storm safely. Remember, though, no home is likely to withstand the assault of catastrophic storms where winds reach upwards of 200 mph. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a site-built or a manufactured home built to rigid government standards, these storms will cause damage if you’re in the path.
Keys To Improving Wind Zone Safety
Proper Installation of Additions and Nearby Structures
According to studies, the main reason manufactured homes are compromised during a high-wind event is improperly attached add-ons, carports, and porches. These all need to be built up to similar standards as the zone requires.
This FEMA report addresses the issue of additions. “The potential for damage to manufactured homes increases significantly when additions like carports, awnings, or porches are fastened to the home. These additions concentrate wind forces where they are fastened to the home. The increased forces can overload connections used to hold the home together and cause failure of the members or connections in the home.”
Consider removing or re-building existing add-on structures so they are supported independently of the home. If you are adding a porch or carport, make sure you are familiar with local codes and build the addition to meet wind zone requirements.
Your home and everyone else’s home is at risk of flying debris during a wind storm. The add-ons noted above can become hazardous when they lift off, potentially causing harm to anything in it’s path.
If you live near trees, make sure they are kept trimmed and any dead or broken limbs and branches are removed. These branches can wreak havoc on a home when they are traveling at over 100 mph.
Make sure your yard is free of debris and clutter. Your neighbors will appreciate this too, not only for aesthetic reasons, but because yard debris causes a lot of damage during a storm. Yard debris isn’t something you’d take time to cleanup right before a storm hits so do it at the first opportunity. You’ll thank yourself when you don’t have to dodge projectiles during the next storm.
Anchoring Systems & Foundations
Post 1994 HUD requirements have made newer mobile homes much safer. Wind Zone II and III homes are required to have vertical wall ties at each frame tie location or anchor. Wind loads are transferred to the anchoring system during a high-wind event. It’s imperative that these anchors and straps are properly installed.
Another concern for safe anchoring involves soil conditions. If your home is located in an area that floods during heavy rains, retains water, or the ground is loose, it’s important to improve the anchoring on older homes to accommodate these conditions.
Of course the type of foundation you choose for your home can make a big difference too. Most homeowners weigh the better foundations with costs associated with the improvement. Any home will be safer and sturdier when it sits on a firm foundation. There are many alternatives available to supplement or improve the anchoring systems for manufactured homes. Concrete piers, a concrete slab, or concrete footings are always a safer form of foundation. In this case, the steal I-beams on a manufactured home are welded to steel anchors embedded in the cement. The cost of these options can seem exorbitant, but it’s important to weigh this against safety factors, especially in Wind Zones II and III.
Inspections & Maintenance
Systems fail usually because they haven’t been constructed properly or because they haven’t been well maintained. Over time, conditions alter the effectiveness of tie-downs, anchors, and straps. This can be especially true if a home has been through high-wind events in the past. Routine home inspections are necessary whether you are in a manufactured home or site-built home. A good rule of thumb is to have tie-downs, straps and anchors inspected every couple years in wind prone areas or immediately following a nasty storm. Inspections will help you find potential areas of concern that need to be addressed. It’s better to have your maintenance done before a storm hits.
Safe Rooms Save Lives
Before tornadoes or hurricanes threaten, you should have a plan for your family. Basements or underground safe rooms are far safer for sheltering against a storm. Absent an underground shelter, prepare a central interior room in the house. This room should be away from windows. For more information on safe room preparation, download this FEMA report.
Studies confirm, a properly anchored and maintained mobile home remains a viable, cost effective option for living in coastal areas. HUD Wind Zone ratings are developed to help homeowners make informed decisions. Know the risks that go with living near the coast. These are all factors to consider when buying a home in Corpus Christi. Mobile homes, like this 3 bedroom, 2 bath model, are available as Wind Zone II rated. They are built to safe wind zone standards for the Corpus Christi area and are affordably priced too. Browse through our online catalogue for more options and choose a home that will provide your family with safe shelter for years to come.