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Hurricane winds? Pftt! Bring 'em on

After Charley mauled their Punta Gorda home, a couple rebuilt it - better, stronger than it was before.

By Associated Press
Published September 18, 2005

PUNTA GORDA - The home Jim Minardi and Teresa Fogolini shared was destroyed a year ago, when Hurricane Charley brought winds that simply ripped the roof of the 43-year-old structure away.

Their new home may fare better if another Charley ever makes its way to the neighborhood.

With concrete walls measuring 6 inches thick, shatterproof windows and an elevated foundation, the new home is designed to withstand even a Category 5 hurricane. It will be featured this weekend on home improvement guru Bob Vila's nationally syndicated television program.

"These ideas have been around for a long time, but it took the hurricanes of last year and Katrina to bring them into focus nationally," said Steve Seibert, a board member of the Federal Alliance of Safe Homes.

The project carried a $400,000 price tag, even with some building materials and labor being donated to get publicity on Vila's show. Minardi and Fogolini moved back into the home Friday.

The plywood that roof tiles are secured to is 5/8 of an inch thick, 1/8 inch thicker than Florida codes mandate. Roof tiles are secured with two steel screws apiece rather than the normal one screw. The windows can resist winds of at least 146 mph.

Minardi watched from a neighbor's home as the roof of his former home was ripped away by Charley's 145-mph winds.

"That shouldn't happen again," Minardi said.

Still, it's unknown how such a resistant building would handle a 20-foot storm surge - something scientists say could be possible in Punta Gorda. What would happen?

"Good question," said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president of the Federal Alliance of Safe Homes. "I hope we never have to find out."

[Last modified September 18, 2005, 02:15:36]

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