In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, it appeared that structures built in South Florida in the last decade weathered the storm far better than years past due to stricter codes and lessons learned from the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. A category 5 hurricane, Andrew, leveled more than 125,000 homes in Florida, leaving 250,000 people homeless in south Miami-Dade County.

Authorities in Florida reported that the level of structural damage from Matthew was significantly less than in previous hurricanes, and they attribute this to a single-state controlled Florida Building Code that took the place of local municipal building codes. The stricter code, which was enacted shortly after Andrew, requires that new or renovated homes in hurricane-prone coastal areas must be able to withstand three-second gusts of 160 mph winds, and sustained wind speeds of 124 mph. Exterior impact protection — such as shatter-resistant windows, hurricane shutters and reinforced doors — is now required for new construction as well.

Hurricane disaster preparedness can take many forms, and clearly better building codes have helped minimize the potential destruction.

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