Experts discuss safety of homes when it comes to severe weather

The Mueller neighborhood in east Austin is part of the Pecan Street Demonstration. (Kevin Schwaller)
The Mueller neighborhood in east Austin (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas State Collaborative is bringing together experts to address the safety of homes in Central Texas, especially when it comes to being prepared for severe weather. The meeting consists of stakeholders, building code officials, insurance agents, builders and homeowners associations.

Major topics in Tuesday’s speeches included the trend in changing building codes, a legislative discussion on resiliency measures and a focus on strategies to increase public awareness and consumer support for mitigation.

Dr. Michael Blanpied, associate coordinator of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program, gave a keynote speech on the increased number of earthquakes in Texas, which is the introduction of a new hazard for many native Texans. Blanpied says that four groups of earthquakes have occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 2009.

Blanpied believes fracking and other industrial processes are causing the earthquakes. He also discussed the need for more seismometer readings in Texas. He says the increase of earthquakes in Texas may lead to further changes in building codes down the road, even for Central Texans, which has been largely earthquake-free in recent years.

Other speakers revisited the need in Central Texas for wildfire resistant home building. Contributor Tim Smail acknowledged his successful Blueprint for Safety, a manual of patterns for home builders in any state to use that help make homes stronger and more weather resistant.

The conference is being coordinated by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), a nonprofit organization that promotes disaster safety.

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