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‘They Should Rebuild’: Florida Engineer on Lessons Learned From Andrew and Ian

Published: September 30, 2022
The wreckage of a car teeters on a buckled roadway in the wake of Hurricane Ian on Sept. 30, 2022 in Matlacha, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“They should rebuild,” John McNally, Florida architect and structural engineer told Reuters on Sept. 30, regarding devastated areas in Florida such as Sanibel and Captiva, drawing from the lessons learned from Andrew and Ian.

Florida’s modern building codes are now far superior to what was in place back in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that hit with 174 mph winds, leaving at least 65 people dead along with a swath of destruction. 

“That’s a real wake up call to the state of Florida,” said McNally.

He said that at the time there was no unified building code across the nation, so Florida, starting with Miami-Dade County, led the way for stricter rules for business and residential structures.

The codes aren’t retroactive, so they apply only to new or rebuilt structures.

“The building code, although it handles minor amounts of flooding, it’s not really set up for like a 10-foot or 12-foot water surge coming through,” he said.

McNally points out that it is time to “strengthen” the building codes, especially for flood levels.

“Because no one really knows 20 years from now how high it’ll get,” he added.

By Reuters (Production: Kyoko Gasha)