Recent tornadoes that devastated the Dallas area during the holidays cast a spotlight on the need for stronger building codes in Texas. Unfortunately it often takes a catastrophic event for communities to take action. A recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News by Kevin Simmons, an economics professor at Austin College, states that homes can be designed to withstand lower wind speeds from a tornado in a cost-effective way. He even points out that Moore, Oklahoma, adopted stronger building codes—based on IBHS’ FORTIFIED standards—following the third devastating tornado to strike the community in five years. These building standards incorporate requirements that strengthen the roof and other parts of a home against high winds.
The case for well-informed codes in Texas was buttressed by forensic engineering done by a respected engineer, which included findings of why and how an area school was destroyed. While we realize that getting a statewide building code in place in Texas is a difficult task, calling on building officials in the state to simply enforce the standards that are already in place seems like the very least that can and should be done. Having an influential media outlet like the Dallas Morning News in the mix is helpful as efforts to do even more move forward.