WUFT News

UF Research Team Surveys Tornado Damage

By on October 14th, 2013
Debris left behind three months after the Moore tornado.

Wesley Fryer / Flickr

Debris left behind three months after the Moore tornado.

University of Florida researchers are evaluating the damage done after a powerful tornado ravaged Moore, Okla.

UF engineering professor David Prevatt and his team of civil engineering students traveled to the city a few days after the storm that killed almost 30 people and injured nearly 400 others.

The May 20 storm received the highest possible rating on the standard tornado-strength-rating scale.

One team member, Jeandona Doreste, said the scene in Moore, about 11 miles south of Oklahoma City, was unlike any he’d witnessed before.

“On television, you might see an aerial view of the damage, and you might see a street view,” Doreste said. “I was able to actually walk into the homes and see walls torn out and actually understand how the damage occurred.”

The damage followed a similar pattern to past tornadoes in Moore, which has had three tornadoes in the last 13 years, Prevatt said.

He said he’s seen no real improvements to how homes are built in the city.

“The damage was sad but expected,” Prevatt said.

The UF team’s research revealed the $2 billion cost in damage was capable of being limited.

An engineering technique known as a vertical load path is one potential solution that could prevent a repeat of the Moore tornado’s destruction, Prevatt said.

The method works similar to hurricane clips by connecting each component of a building using mechanical fasteners.

Prevatt and his students collaborated with University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University students along with with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bring attention to the lack of storm shelters in the area.

Prevatt said smart engineering and preparation are the best tools for protecting homes from tornadoes.

“No specific structure is inherently stronger than another,” Prevatt said.

When an F5 tornado struck Moore in 1999, then-President Bill Clinton issued a state of emergency.  The 2013 storm was estimated to cost more than the 1999 storm.

Prevatt said the problem is too much theory and not enough practice.

“Unfortunately, too much of this damage survey work has been done and nothing has come out of it or too little has come out of it,” Prevatt said.

Prevatt added that although his team informed government officials in Moore of the key to better structural integrity, it is up to them to learn from 2013 and 1999.

With their research, Prevatt’s team hopes that cities hit by tornadoes will rebuild stronger and smarter.


This entry was posted in Environment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Environment

Suwannee

Suwannee Lake Renovations Still Progressing

Almost two years after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission closed Suwannee Lake to the public for renovations, some of the changes are now visible. For almost 50 years, the lake has provided a natural habitat for wildlife in […]


Barr Hammock Preserve is the most recent area where bear-human conflict has occurred in Alachua County. No one was injured in the June incident.

Experts Caution Against Bear Hunting in Alachua County

The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission met yesterday to review a proposal which would allow bear hunting on specific areas throughout Florida. Wildlife groups question if hunting is the solution to an increasing number of bear encounters.


Swamp Head Brewery, with the help of the University of Florida's Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences department, released 300 bluegills into what will soon become a self-sustaining wetlands. Photo courtesy of Brandon Nappy.

Swamp Head Brewery Introduces Species to New Conservation

When Swamp Head Brewery moved into their new location, off Southwest 34th Street in Gainesville, in January, they saved one acre of their land for conservation. The brewery is working toward creating an environment that is reflective of their tasting room, “The Wetlands.”


Alachua County Fire Rescue Station #25 is one of the government

buildings that is getting a solar roof installed. After assessing the buildings, 24 were approved. Rebecca Rubin / WUFT News

Fire Station Is First Building In Hawthorne To Get Solar Overhaul

Alachua County Fire Rescue Station 25 will be the first county building in Hawthorne to be outfitted with solar panels. The station is one of 24 buildings determined viable for the county’s solar panel initiative, which seeks to cut energy consumption.


Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.22.38 PM

Four Snake Species Added To Restricted List

A new law will make it illegal to import and sell four species of snakes across state lines. These snakes include one type of python and three types of anacondas, which if introduced could pose a threat to local ecosystems.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments