Saving Lives with Storm Safe Homes

Building With Nature: Combining Beauty and Strength to Keep Us Safe:

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This beautiful home has successfully weathered three hurricanes unscathed, is flood proof, rated for EF-5 tornadoes, is earthquake resistant and termite proof.  Photo courtesy of Monolithic Dome Institute.

Tornadoes, hail up to softball size, straight line winds gusting above 65 MPH, and floods freely roam much of America, and are as indigenous to our ecology as crows and blue jays.

On our Gulf Coast, hurricanes and flooding rains as well as occasional tornadoes visit from time to time,  as indigenous to our ecology as Spanish Moss.

In spite of our ecology, we build our homes across America as if none of this exists, designing them instead to blow up in tornadoes, shred in high winds, and develop expensive roof leaks after windy rain or hail storms.

As a result of our home building practices, every year somewhere in America, at least one community faces terrible disaster, with injuries, deaths, homelessness and severe emotional trauma due to tornadoes or other intense storms.

Homeowners face expensive roof repair or replacement after storms move through their neighborhoods, bearing winds up to 65 MPH with torrential rain and/or hail as small as dimes.

Meanwhile home owners insurance grows more expensive every year due to weather related claims, and deductibles continue rising mercilessly.

Homes destroyed by tornadoes or high winds are rebuilt using the same flawed methods and materials, expecting different results next time intense weather sweeps through the neighborhood. This has happened three times within two decades in cities such as Moore, Oklahoma.

This suffering is unnecessary!  Through inferior home building practices, we create our own disasters.

We have in our hands right now, affordable home technology which acknowledges and works with nature.   Our current home construction  practices work against nature,  producing dwellings  existing as “sitting ducks” to destruction when the sky turns wild.

By zoning for and constructing storm safe homes, we save lives, preserve property and decrease the level of suffering which visits many parts of the U.S. during our stormy spring and summer months.

Following is a run down of homes we have already built and are affordable to middle class Americans:

Monolithic Domes:

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This magnificent home is located in Pensacola Florida. It’s been through three major hurricanes and remains unscathed, despite it’s ocean side location. Though very large and expensive, smaller prototypes may be built which are far more affordable to middle class Americans.

Monolithic Domes (www.monolithic.com) are a magnificent way of keeping us safe during intense weather. These homes are rated for EF5 tornadoes, as well as being earthquake proof, termite proof, flood proof, wildfire resistant, and provide a safe place to have a party when baseball sized hail driven by 70 MPH winds visits your neighborhood.

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Rated R-55, Monolithic Domes are so energy efficient that one home in Alaska lost power for three days, and only then did the occupants become aware their heating and hot water systems had broken down.

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I would love to see our cities zoned to allow for these homes. Monolithic domes cost about the same price per square foot to build as any traditional custom made home.

The Monolithic Dome website has up to 250 floor plans for building these homes, which are made from shotcrete and rebar. The magnificent specimen shown above may be constructed at a much smaller and more affordable scale, while maintaining artistic integrity.

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The inside of these homes with their naturally arched ceilings make for a lovely spacious atmosphere. I took these photos during a tour of the Monolithic Dome Institute home area in Italy, TX.

Here is a link to a personal interview with a Monolithic Dome home owner in Missouri, whose home took a direct hit by a tornado and emerged completely unscathed: …“the tornado used our roof as a staging area…”

http://www.monolithic.org/homes/featured-homes/monolithic-dome-home-survives-missouri-tornado

Eco Silo-Domes:

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The home shown here has not yet been completed.  Built with cement, it’s rated for 205 MPH winds, and the ladder ascends to a planned roof top garden. The cost: $225,000 new; certainly affordable to most middle class Americans. As a reference, winds during the destructive EF4 Garland Texas tornado were estimated at 175 MPH. This home would have maintained total integrity during the tornado, and residents would have been spared from homelessness and post traumatic stress syndrome.

Eco-Silo History:

In 2007, a powerful EF-5 tornado nearly wiped the city of Greensburg, Kansas off the map. One of the very  few dwellings left standing was a cement grain silo.

Residents decided to stay and rebuild, constructing a few Eco-silo homes, inspired by the grain silo which survived the tornado.

A developer took things a step further by using one of these homes as a demo, and fitting it with amazing green technologies. As a result, people from all over the world have come to visit and tour this small city in southwest Kansas.

It would be very easy to build a new subdivision consisting of Eco-silo homes, providing home owners and their families total protection from storms.  Even grapefruit sized hail would merely shatter harmlessly against the cement walls and roof.

For more info on these and other storm safe homes built in Greensburg, KS after its EF-5 tornado , visit the Greensburg Greentown.org website :

http://www.greensburggreentown.org/

Imagine feeling zero fear when your weather radio blasts a warning for a severe storm heading directly towards your neighborhood!

Underground Homes:

Both artistic and practical, these homes are built mostly underground, and can provide protection against strong tornadoes as well as intense hail and  windstorms.

Back in the 1980’s I saw a photo of one which took a direct hit from a tornado. The photo showed cyclonic swirl marks across the grassy roof, yet everything inside the house was safe and sound.

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Here is a small subdivision built exclusively from underground homes, showing how our suburbs may be zoned and constructed to provide safe, artistic and practical living conditions, protecting us from wild weather and saving on energy costs as well.

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This photo shows how an underground home may site well within a suburban or semi-rural setting.

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This beautiful home practically shouts at the sky: “Come throw your biggest hail, grandest wind, fattest twister at me and I will stand strong just the same”.  Perfect for our Prairie ecology, where such weather events are a natural part of our environment.

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Goals:

  • Every city and suburb needs to be zoned to accommodate storm safe homes. Any new subdivision built needs to offer models such as these, so purchasers may settle into a life of beauty, practicality and safety.
  • Any family who has lost their home due to storm damage or earthquakes must be given the option to replace their old home with one of these three choices if they desire.

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