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Professor: Oklahoma Tornado Provides Insights To Home Safety

A family marked their house in Moore,Okla., declaring they survived the devastating tornado that hit their city on May 20, 2013.

A Rose-Hulman professor, along with a group of researchers studying the tornado damage in Moore, Okla., has found homes with better connections between the roof, wall and foundation are more likely to withstand heavy storms.

Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering professor Fred Haan was part of the group studying the affect of tornadoes and high winds to wood frame structures. He says many people have the misconception that tornadoes are so powerful that they cannot do anything to protect their home.

“But actually what we have found is that many things on the outer reaches of the damage path could be significantly more secure or significantly more resilient if they had better connections  between the roof and the wall and the wall and the foundation,” he says.

Haan says the parts for improving the connections are cheap but some homeowners may not want to take on the expense of having them installed. An incentive to do so could lie with insurance companies.

“Maybe people would say if my house would do better, if my insurance premiums are going to be lower then  maybe I would want to build a house with those straps or those clips,” he says.

The research group was part of the National Science Foundation Rapid Response Grant for Exploratory Research. It also studied the affects of tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2011.

Later this month, Haan will present a paper on tornado structural preparedness at the Americas Conference on Wind Engineering in Seattle.

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