Friday, March 9, 2012

Construction Criticism

I couldn’t find the image that I wanted to, and I don’t know where it could be found.  For I first saw it as part of a television news story about families trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives after tornadoes swept across parts of Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee around a week ago.

Anyway, what was pointed out to me in this image was clean concrete blocks piled on the floor of what used to be someone’s living room.  No, there wouldn’t be anything too unusual about something like that in the aftermath of a direct hit from a fairly large tornado.  That is, except for the part about the blocks previously being a part of the outside wall of the house, and being clean—as in not having any mortar still clinging to them.

After seeing footage of the utter destruction of several very substantial-looking houses, the thought had zipped through more than once, but it was seeing an unintentional close-up of those clean concrete blocks that caused me to start paying closer attention to the possibility that much of the damage being more a result of poor construction than the power of the storm.  For I know for a fact that many homes in the last 10 years or so have been built with only their weight keeping them on their foundations, and using only enough mortar to keep bricks, blocks and flagstones standing fairly straight until the interior walls are up to provide more bracing would not be out of the question for an unscrupulous contractor trying to make as much profit as possible.

In all fairness, there were several older building also utterly destroyed, and one would assume that they were built better during a time when integrity was taken a little more seriously than it has been lately.  Ah, but one of the most destructive things about a tornado is debris being hurled about, and when one of even the lighter-weighted (around 30 pounds) cinder blocks hits the outside wall of a 100 year-old court house at over 130 miles-per-hour, something has to give.

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Rational νεόφυτος said...

Debris is definitely an issue, and one of the main reasons I get the heck out of here when hurricanes come through.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Thanks for stopping by again, my dear RN!!! I was still in New Orleans just before Andrew came ashore in '92, and I was starting to get really anxious by the time I was able to leave. Later on, listening to the reporting on WWL-AM as I headed north through central Arkansas on one of the darkest nights I can remember was quite an experience, but not nearly as bad as being caught in the storm, of course.

Rational νεόφυτος said...

Hopefully you weren't doing your 18-wheeling at the time hauling a massive tanker of flammable chemicals...!?

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...
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Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Thanks for stopping by again, my dear RN!!! Nope, I can't remember just exactly what I had on, but since I never hauled any large tankers of any kind, I am fairly sure that it was not a load like that. Although, I have hauled several loads with either a dry van or a refrigerated trailer full (weight-wise) of 55 gallon drums containing some really nasty stuff.