The Role of Masonry in Rebuilding After Natural Disasters
When the dust settles after a natural disaster, one of the first questions we ask is what could we have done to have been more prepared? How could we have built our residential and non-residential buildings to weather the storm better than they did? As many cities are finding in the wake of tropical storms, hurricanes, and other disasters, one of the best options we have to keep ourselves and our loved one’s safe from the elements is masonry.
When it comes to resisting the impact of natural disasters, masonry provides builders and owners with a lot of advantages. Masonry is strong, durable, and it provides superior resistance to dangerous weather. Reinforced masonry, which uses steel to provide additional structure and strength for the masonry, is essential for ensuring that the building completed today can weather the storms that will come tomorrow, according to Florida’s Bureau of Recovery and Mitigation.
In addition to its strength, masonry offers another key advantage in disaster recovery; it is not a water sensitive material. Common building materials like wood, drywall, and oriented strand board (OSB) will swell, warp, and rot when exposed to water, requiring them to be partially or fully replaced, which increases the cost of disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts. Masonry, on the other hand, is indifferent to water’s presence. Even more importantly, though, when properly constructed and ventilated, masonry will dry thoroughly and completely after storms, flooding, and other disasters. This is one of its greatest strengths, and it’s one that contractors and masons can point to when considering the long-term costs of either building or rebuilding in an area prone to natural disasters.
Changing Standards Make Masonry More Desirable
As Building Science Corporation points out, more cities and states are altering their building standards and requirements in the aftermath of serious natural disasters. That only makes sense, as disasters that have happened at least once are now the benchmark that construction standards must meet to be safe the next time such an incident occurs. And these new standards are embracing masonry as a solution to the problems posed by increased threats from natural disasters. While the specifics will change from one place to another, the material of choice is always the one that resists the force of a storm, can shrug off moisture and water, and which will stand for years as disasters come and go.
These solutions take different forms. From a resurgence in rustication (a medieval technique where the ground floor is built from stone, and the second floor from wood and other materials), to a wider-spread use of steel reinforcing, there is a definite movement to ensure that once cities and homes are rebuilt after a disaster that they can successfully resist the next ones. And it doesn’t look as if masonry is going to stop being the solution any time soon.