This Florida home, built with Logix Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), was hit by two major hurricanes within a short period of time and survived both unscathed!
Yes, in September 2016 within just a week of completion, Mike and Kathy Russell’s brand new Florida home was hit by Hurricane Matthew, a Category 5 hurricane that ravaged the region and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage. Winds of up to 165 miles per hour pummeled the east coast of Florida from Treasure Coast to Jacksonville and left over one million people without power across the state. In Jacksonville alone, major sand dune damage and flooding knocked out the electricity for nearly 250,000 customers while a portion of Florida State Road A1A was washed away in the Flagler Beach area.
Satellite image of Hurricane Matthew at Category 4 stage, taken at 18:45 UTC on September 30, 2016, just off the coast of Colombia. The eye is clearly visible.
Left pic: Highway A1A south of St. Augustine, Florida; Right pic: Over 5 miles of Highway A1A washed out by Hurricane Matthew.
Hurricane Matthew was an active force from September 28 to October 10 in 2016, and by the time it had passed, 12 deaths had tragically been reported and total damage costs were estimated to be over $15.09 billion USD.
Then just one year later, the Russell Home was hit by a hurricane once again — this time it was Hurricane Irma!
This satellite image shows three simultaneously active hurricanes on September 7, 2017. From left to right: Hurricane Katia, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose, the first such occurrence since 2010.
Hurricane Irma was an extremely powerful hurricane. In fact, it was the strongest hurricane observed in the Atlantic with sustained winds and the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region.
Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, and it caused widespread damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys.
One of the biggest impacts of Hurricane Irma was the lack of electricity afterward. Over 60% of residents in the state were without power, which prevented people from even getting gasoline. Fuel was in short supply throughout peninsular Florida during the week before Irma’s arrival, especially along evacuation routes, which lead to hours-long lines at fuel stations and even convoys of fuel trucks escorted by the Florida Highway Patrol.
And through both of these incredible ordeals, Mike and Kathy felt both safe AND comfortable in their new Logix ICF home.
“Hurricane Matthew was a more powerful hurricane in the form of sustained winds of 130 mph and gusts in the 160s.” observes Russell. “The storm surge in my area was extremely high and reached the 100-year, once in a lifetime, flood plain. Hurricane Matthew was a very fast storm that lasted a little over an hour where we were and rained 12” to 20” of rain, and I watched the water levels continue to rise. I was fearful that even though I built to the 100-year flood level, it wasn’t going to be enough. Thank goodness it was, and the water surge only got to within three feet of breaching the house. The waters slowly receded and we were back to normal for the most part within a day or two. Inside the house, we felt safe from the winds and everything was extremely comfortable temperature-wise.”
There was water surrounding the Russell Home and the area was flooded with water, but otherwise, the home itself (and everything and everyone inside it) were unscathed. Mike and his wife watched from their porch as trees in the area were being toppled down from the storm. The power was lost for a day and a half. Mike had a generator and fans blowing the entire time until the power finally came back. The entire day and a half that the power was out, Mike and his wife were comfortable in their Logix home. Due to the interior walls, the exterior walls and half of the other walls being made with ICF (which maintain superior energy-efficiency), there was no structural damage from Hurricane Matthew.
After Matthew passed, the Russell’s concrete and steel ICF home sustained very little damage. Other than debris outside the door of the home and dirt thrown up onto the side of it, The Russell Home completely stood up to the torrential hurricane. Incredibly, no damage was incurred other than scrubbing dirt off the house.
“Some vegetation had to be power scrubbed off the exterior siding, but that’s it.
Well except for the well pump that ended up 300 feet down the road and finding the river bridge in the next lot.” says Russell.
A year later, Hurricane Irma was a much different hurricane, but thankfully, as Russell reports, the end results were similar:
“Hurricane Irma was a totally different type of storm both in strength and in areas of Florida that were affected. Matthew had impacted several hundred miles of the east coast of Florida with the more intense impact being in northeast central Florida, where my house is. Irma affected the whole state of Florida, from the Florida Keys straight up the center of the state and eventually going on through Georgia. The amount of the water from the rainfall in fact continued to cause problems with continued high storm surges for months afterwards.”
“Hurricane Irma was a slightly weaker storm with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour to gust in the 130’s and the winds lasted for 24 straight hours. But there were many tornadoes associated with the hurricane bands and one was recorded by a NOAA weather buoy behind my house with winds from 190 mph to 210 mph. During the many gusts of the 24-hour period, I could literally hear the Hardie siding on our house rattle, but again no damage.”
“We lost power for 3 full days with Irma. I couldn’t even go outside to get the generator running until the winds finally died down 24 hours later. My generator is just big enough to run refrigerators, a few lights and some fans. However, we never really felt uncomfortable inside of the house even though the temperature during the days were in the mid and upper 90’s outside. I just happen to be walking past the house thermostat when power came back on and the temperature inside house was 78. We normally keep the house at 75 degrees, and so I would have expected a higher indoor reading for sure!.”
“To sum it up, my wife and I felt extremely safe and quite comfortable during both hurricanes, inside our Logix ICF home.”
“If there is a bright side to this story, every hurricane gives us a better river front view. We lost 10 trees during Matthew and 8 trees during Irma!”
Watch a recorded webcast of this homeowner talking about his experiences surviving Hurricanes Irma and Matthew and how he designed and built his home.
Based on Mike’s experience, here are two key home design takeaways for staying safe and comfortable in a hurricane-prone area:
Lesson #1: Plan Your Building Site Conservatively
Using a “Carolina Slab” design, Mike built the slab of his home slightly above the anticipated maximum 100 year flood height for his building site. This simple foresight allowed Russell to avoid tremendous damage when Matthew’s “once in a hundred years” storm surge came within a mere 3 feet of his home, but did not touch it.
Lesson #2: Build A Strong & Hurricane-Safe Home (and strongly consider using ICF!)
This is an ICF block:
ICF blocks are stacked together to form the exterior walls of the home, and then concrete is poured into the hollow core to form this highly insulated, concrete-and-steel, wildfire-resistant wall assembly:
To learn more about ICF, click here.
This infographic shows why ICF homes are so strong and hurricane-safe:
First, the highly insulated, concrete-and-steel Logix ICF building envelope will protect and provide comfort and peace of mind to your family during the threatening event itself.
Then, in the days and weeks afterward while your community’s utilities and infrastructure are being repaired and your air conditioning or heating is left without electricity to power it, this air-tight and highly insulated ICF envelope will continue to surround your family in an ambiance of relative comfort, with moderate temperatures and humidity levels.
Strong and hurricane-safe Logix ICF homes are not expensive. In fact, Mike constructed his home in 2015/2016 for about $120 per square foot. But when hurricanes and other climactic events threaten, they’re priceless.
To learn more about Logix ICF and Disaster Resilience, click here.
Key Design Features of the Russell Home:
ICF walls with 4” concrete core, engineered to 250 mph wind resistance
Innovative center “safe room” was constructed with four interior 21′ ICF walls to provide a safe room within a safe house
Hardiplank siding fastened with ring shanked nails
4-sided hip roof design for maximum wind deflection & to minimize roof exposure
Truss design for Fema D compliance
2400 pst framing lumber used in the roof
Zip system & steel decking used in the roof, screwed in at 8″ o/c instead of 16 o/c
Foamed under the roof with polyurethane foam to add strength
Other Design Elements
Hurricane-rated sliding doors
Non-vented sofits, center-braced at mid-span
Porches connected as per FEMA D to resist uplift
Left pic: The Carolina Slab built with CMUs; Right pic: The Logix walls just getting started
Left pic: The Carolina Slab — built to exceed the 100-year flood plain; Right pic: The Logix ICF exterior walls and the 21’ high walls of the interior safe room area