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National disasters resulting in push for better building codes

Building codes and natural disasters
Posted at 5:15 PM, May 05, 2022

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Natural disasters across the country are increasing. In 2021, there were 20 different natural disasters, each one causing at least $1 billion in damages.

A report from the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization shows that natural disasters have increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years, mainly due to climate change.

Whether it's damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, or other natural disasters, FEMA reported that 39 states were placed in the lowest category on strength of its codes for residential and commercial buildings.

Nineteen states received a score of zero, including some of the nation’s most disaster-prone states like Louisiana and North Carolina

FEMA has urged states and localities to adopt the newest building codes – often offering incentives like discounted flood insurance premiums.

That is why communities are trying to improve building codes with stronger and more fire-resistant home layouts and building materials including roofs.

In Louisville, Colorado, the 2021 Marshal Fire damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

Ashley Stolzmann, the mayor of Louisville, is trying to incentivize homeowners to build or update their homes to have green building codes, which usually also means a building is less likely to burn.

"This is really a national issue, at the end of the day when these disasters come through and they're underinsured, the federal government is who comes in and steps up for support,” Stolzmann said. “And it's kind of hard to not understand why there isn't a federal requirement around the code. At the end of the day the federal taxpayers are paying to fix these problems.”

Because there is no federal requirement, organizations like Wildfire Partners are focusing on educating people on the importance of updating their buildings.

"What we do is one-on-one education sight visits with homeowners and go through the details of how to reduce the risk of their homes,” said Kyle McCatty with Wildlife Partners. "It's everything from the roof to the siding, to the deck. And kind of going out from the house from there."