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Home Forums In the Path of Destruction of Irma. HURRICANE ALICIA 1983

  • Fri, Sep 08, 2017 - 03:16am



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Aloha! I stayed for Hurricane Alicia in 1983. It struck Galveston and Houston Texas directly and cause $1.7bil damage in 1983 dollars! What's that $17bil today? I think over 20 people died then.

Glass got sucked out of downtown Houston high rise buildings and in Galveston where I had a house I looked out at my street and saw all the new construction homes with the new modern building codes were demolished. My house was built a few years after the 1906 Galveston Hurricane that killed 10,000 people. The damage to my house was one slate shingle blew off and one window pane was broken even with the shutters closed. Why did the new construction homes get demolished and the old 1908 homes survive? Because the 1908 house I owned had enough wood in the construction for two houses. All framing was 2×6 and 6×6, no 2x4s anywhere. On the outside I had shiplap siding and the inside walls were all 1" tongue-in-groove. On top of that was cheese cloth and on top of that was 1/2 drywall. No clips used only the old style rectangle nails. If you do not want to lose your primary dwelling in a hurricane zone then use the time tested old style construction techniques which is much more costly but then it ends up cheaper after the first cat4 hurricane! After Alicia I had about $200 in damages. It is earie to look down your street and see 75% of the homes half gone or only slabs. You could tell which houses were old construction. They were the only ones standing. My street at M1/2 Street by Stuart Beach looked like a war zone! It literally looked like Berlin in 1946!

What killed a lot of the coastal properties was the storm surge. I drove 15 miles inland on the I-45 freeway towards Houston and saw a few 20ft and 30ft sailboats laying on the side of the freeway. Without the seawall in front of my house the storm surge would have washed away the house. I saw the houses outside the seawall and there were none left just wooden foundations that were 16ft off the ground. Back then in order to get flood insurance houses had to be at least 12ft above sea level, so people built on raised platforms at 16ft and they still do in the Texas gulf region.

If you have never been hit directly by a cat4 it is a powerful lesson in how insignificant humans and their technology are when put upon by natural forces. During that storm I saw green lightening and 125mph rain and the debris like corrugated roofing was like a flying guillotine!

I have a friend in Stuart, Florida who is battening down the hatches as I type this!

Carry on bravely and God speed!

Below photos: Alicia in 1983