Case Study: Last House Standing

PROJECT NAME: Last House Standing

LOCATION: Gilchrist, Texas

COMPLETION DATE: April 2007

OWNER: Warren and Pam Adams

BUILDER: Mike Moretti, AM Coastal

ENGINEER: Aran & Franklin Engineering

In the wake of Hurricane Ike, a beautiful, yellow beach home in Gilchrist, Texas, became the perfect example of why windstorm design is important. Despite an enormous storm surge, the house was literally the last house standing in Gilchrist. It had superficial exterior damage and major water damage inside, but it was still structurally sound. Most of the homes surrounding what was dubbed “The Last House Standing” were older and not up to windstorm code. It was bittersweet for homeowners, Warren and Pam Adams, to return to their home and realize their entire neighborhood was gone with the exception of their house. Many of their neighbors were not elevated above the flood elevation. And Hurricane Ike exceeded the 100-year flood levels. With storm surge at almost 20’, the older homes could not withstand that volume of water pushing on their walls and foundations so eventually they became the piles of rubble viewed in Ike’s aftermath.

After Hurricane Rita in September 2005, the Adams’ older beach cabin had sustained enough damage they decided to rebuild to the new standards, and they also rebuilt significantly higher than they were before. Incorporating the most common structural elements of plywood shearwalls with bracket hold downs, high design pressure windows and doors as well as a clip and strap fastening system that provided a continuous load path, the home was well suited to handle Ike’s Category 2 winds. Since it was elevated higher than FEMA required, it also resisted most of the water as well. There was some roof damage from wind and siding damage from the flood waters but the structural elements remained intact. Beyond its structural strength, it served as a beacon of hope to call the beach-goers back to the shore.

Since the destruction of Hurricane Ike, the community has returned stronger than ever, both in personal fortitude and design of the homes.

MAIN OFFICE, TEXAS CITY
501 S. Noble Road
Texas City, TX 77591
P: 409-935-5200
F: 409-935-5209

ROCKPORT RECOVERY OFFICE
621 S. Fulton Beach Rd., Ste. 160
Rockport, TX 78382
P: 409-935-5200 / 855-WIND-ENG

GOLDEN TRIANGLE OFFICE
7415 Eastex Plaza, Ste. #3
Beaumont, TX 77708
P: 409-239-5936

LEE COUNTY OFFICE
2930 Del Prado Blvd., Ste. D
Cape Coral, FL 33904
P: 239-268-1001

A+F DESIGNS
501 S. Noble Road
Texas City, TX 77591
P: 409-935-5200
F: 409-935-5209

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