Building Stronger Homes For Future Storms

Debris and downed trees now line the streets of this once pristine community of North Diamondhead.  And though many homes in this area remain standing, nearly everything inside of these homes, like the home of Lisa Wilbourn, was destroyed.

"We had minimal wind damage, some damage to the roof and some in the backyard. A lot of trees down in the backyard. We also took in four and half foot storm surge so everything in the house is gone," said Wilbourn.

Wilbourn has been busy pulling out all of the dry wall and cleaning up in and around her home, basically preparing to start over from scratch.

So, she is open to new ideas regarding how to protect her home from storms like Katrina in the future.

"We never expected to get storm surge up this far into Diamondhead, so anything we can do to protect our home and to make it more efficient and stronger in the long run," said Wilbourn.

That's why Tierra Concrete Homes  is attempting to come to the rescue.

The group held its "Operation Strong House" seminar Wednesday evening at the Diamondhead Community Center.

The group builds homes out of concrete, and believe if this building method was in place, many South Mississippi homes would still be here.

"It would have helped with the storm surge as well as with the wind. The walls are tilt-up walls so they are one solid pre-cast wall, and then they're welded together at the corners and to the foundations, and they are engineered for much higher wind loads as well," said Tierra Concrete Homes president Judy Fosdick.

Fosdick says the cost to build concrete homes would be about the same, and would be more energy efficient.

"It's a real heartache to go around and see how many people have been displaced by this and living in tents and temporary shelters. Everyone just wants to get back to normal and this way they'll have a safer, more secure home and feel better about it," said Fosdick.

Fosdick says the group plans to start building here in South Mississippi as soon as they are able to get building permits.