Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Manufactured housing vs. hurricane

Yet another hurricane sweeps through Florida on its way to doing even more damage in the rest of the United States. And the news footage has shown and undoubtedly will continue to show devastated mobile-home parks. It’s not that tornados and hurricanes target mobile-home parks; it’s just that the most spectacular damage tends to happen there.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Five O’Clock Somewhere is a manufactured housing unit, and part of the reason we chose the manufacturer we did was a set of photographs taken of a mobile-home park in Florida following Hurricane Andrew. In those photos, the mobile-home park is thoroughly wiped out, but five homes are still standing, all made by this manufacturer. The one home made by this manufacturer that didn’t survive suffered a direct hit by a tornado that would also have destroyed a site-built house. One other home suffered severe damage from being hit by a flying refrigerator.

It turns out, the home construction isn’t the real key. Consumer Reports magazine reported on the quality of manufactured housing, and what those reporters found out was that manufactured housing is just as weather-resistant as site-built housing, IF the home is properly set up and anchored. One test organization even set up some mobile homes on the flightline of an Air Force runway and had jet airplanes blow their exhaust at the home. If it was properly anchored, the home might suffer some broken windows and blown-off shingles, but that was it – no structural damage. Most states, however, have very low requirements for setup and anchoring, and two states (New Mexico is one of them) don’t have any regulations at all.

In the case of Hurricane Andrew, the state of Florida responded by creating new regulations for the installation of manufactured housing. Now, Florida requires all manufactured housing to meet the standards similar to those this manufacturer has required all along.

The manufacturer of Five O’Clock Somewhere has very strict standards for installation an anchoring. Here in New Mexico, many manufactured-housing dealers advertise “free delivery and setup.” Not our manufacturer. We had to pay extra for the delivery and setup. But we got an installation so secure that both our mortgage company and our homeowner’s insurance company consider the house just as secure as a site-built house, so we get the best rates from both.


Blogger Pat said...

Unfortunately, New Mexico is one of many states that have large inventories of older manufactured homes that are set up, installed, and maintained poorly if at all. I suppose Okies would call them tornado bait.

Mon Aug 29, 09:32:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous Andrew said...

A few/number of years ago with a Tornado ripped through Arkansas, with Arkadeklhia being hit rather hard, the news showed a trailer park. One trailer was left standing due to the owners creativness. He had anchored his house to the concrete and steel posts he had burried around the house. So the base of his house extended out and down by about ten feet.

Thu Sep 01, 10:50:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

I notice the current news coverage out of New Orleans and Biloxi does NOT feature manufactured housing. This storm was nasty enough that site-built housing makes for stunning images of destruction.

FEMA responded to the Cerro Grande Fire in Los Alamos by bringing in manufactured housing to shelter people left homeless. If the agency also brings in such housing for victims of Katrina, I wonder whether it will make sure those homes are well anchored?

Fri Sep 02, 12:04:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

People on South Padre Island learned the value of anchoring their mobile homes during Hurricane Buelah in 1967. Better-built and anchored homes tended to survive with modest damage. Others were likely to roll over or worse. The fix was simple: dig holes, pour concrete anchors with uprights embedded in them, connect the tops of uprights with steel cables over a home's roof.

Fri Sep 02, 11:44:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Nowadays, those steel cables or straps are built into the house's structure, so they don't mar the home's appearance, but they don't do any good if they're not securely fastened to the ground.

Tue Sep 06, 12:08:00 AM MDT  

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