Poor Anchoring Could Have Intensified Tornado Damage

Written by Cory Chandler

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Nov. 29, 2005
CONTACT: Cory Chandler, cory.chandler@ttu.edu

STUDY: POORLY ANCHORED MOBILE HOMES
TOOK BRUNT OF TORNADO DAMAGE

LUBBOCK – While standards for manufactured houses have improved since 1999, poorly anchored mobile homes sustained serious damage from the tornado that ripped through Indiana on Nov. 6, killing 22 people.

Larry Tanner, a member of Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, recently visited Evansville, Ind., where he documented and analyzed damage to the approximately 400 manufactured homes in Eastbrook Mobile Home Park.

Working alongside James Waller, president of the National Storm Shelter Association, Tanner spent two days tracing the route of the tornado. The two men studied the storm’s impact on both residential and commercial structures. However, they spent the bulk of their time documenting and analyzing damage to the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park, where 18 people died.

Since the park is relatively new, many of the manufactured homes in it were built under more stringent Department of Housing and Urban Development standards implemented in 1999, Tanner said. Unlike most homes and commercial structures, which are governed by building codes, HUD oversees manufactured houses.

Those properly anchored mobile homes that were not hit by the storm’s vortex generally withstood the pounding meted out by the tornado, Tanner said. The National Weather Service classified the storm as an F-3 tornado and said the winds could have been between 120 - 150 mph. The storm rocked, moved and severely damaged the mobile homes that were not properly secured. Tanner said many of these homes either were improperly anchored or had no anchoring at all.

Tanner documented all of the homes in the park and randomly selected a sample of 60 units to analyze. He will report his findings to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His research is funded by a five-year grant by the institute.

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CONTACT: Larry Tanner, lecturer, Department of Civil Engineering, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3523, or larry.tanner@ttu.edu.