Just in Time!!

Pass-a-Grille-Tightest

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On Sunday evening, June 24, 2012, at 8 PM, Tropical Storm Debby spawned a tornado that struck the small barrier island on which we live. While we were out of town that night and did not witness, first-hand, the winds and destruction that affected many of the homes and businesses near our house and did major damage to several buildings on Pass-A-Grille, we were JUST IN TIME to save our house.

After moving to Pass-A-Grille, the southern-most part of St. Pete Beach, FL, we began researching the best ways to protect our home (part of which was built in the 1920’s) from hurricanes and the high winds that they generate. (Being within a few yards of the Gulf of Mexico, little did we expect a tornado to be the true test of our wind mitigation research and projects.) While undertaking many renovations on our house, we kept looking for the best method to secure the roof and the house in a high wind event. Initially, we were thinking only of the traditional tie down straps used to secure the roof to the walls of the house. However, good fortune struck when we happened to see a local TV interview with Bob Stobaugh of Building Performance Americas (BPA), USA Inc. In this interview, Bob spoke directly about the wind issues that concerned us the most.

Before Claw & Strap and Safety Vent

BPA had a newly patented, high performance claw and strap tie-down device as well as revolutionary soffit vents that automatically close in high pressure situations (hurricanes and tornados). The vents selectively close in these events such that negative pressure works to keep the roof on the house. The retrofit project included replacing our weak and dangerous vinyl soffits with hard soffit materials. (Our research included a Florida sponsored study showing these weak vinyl soffits as a primary entry point for wind and water that could increase damages by 50%.)

In the spring of 2012, we used these two new BPA products (claw and strap tie-down and the safety vents in hard soffits) to retrofit our entire house. We had hoped never to test these new improvements, but Tropical Storm Debby’s tornado had other ideas. Videos and pictures of this tornado and its destructive path through Pass-A-Grille are all over the web. Neighbors all around us had major to minor damage to their roofs and homes. However, we had completed the retrofit projects JUST IN TIME. We had no roof or soffit damage at all (although we did experience a few broken fence pieces, some landscaping damage, and some minor siding damage from flying debris).

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AFTER Claw & Strap and Safety Vent Installation

We might have gone with a traditional roof tie-down system had we not seen Bob Stobaugh’s interview on TV. However, those retrofits do not typically address the weakness of vinyl soffits and would not have offered the revolutionary automatically closing safety vents. Once we read the State (Florida) sponsored report addressing weak vinyl soffits, there is no way we could have chosen not to do both improvements (installing the patented claw and straps as well as newly designed vents in hard soffits) at the same time.

In conclusion, we wanted to express our appreciation to BPA for its efforts to make these issues known and for offering truly unique and effective products for wind mitigation. There is a whole list of things to take care of and worry about when a hurricane (or tornado) is threatening, but for us keeping the roof on no longer is on that list.

Thanks,

Dayn and Diane Beam
Pass-A-Grille
St. Pete Beach, FL