Safety organization gives Georgia a D on hurricane preparedness - CBS46 News


Safety organization gives Georgia a D on hurricane preparedness

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

A national disaster safety organization rates Georgia a 'D' on hurricane preparedness. That's the bottom half of the states rated high risk for hurricanes.

CBS46 is uncovering risky evidence from Georgia’s department that inspects mobile homes at higher risk from higher winds.

When I discovered over half of Georgia’s inspections of mobile homes found serious safety flaws, I wanted to know how safe are the million people in Georgia who live in a mobile home.

My search for answers took me and photographer Eric Carlton to a strange site where buildings on purpose are blown away.

Dr. Anne Cope is a civil engineer who creates her own tornadoes, with plenty of room to do it.

“I truly love what I do, and I’m very passionate, make a difference,” says Cope.

Her mom and dad lived in a mobile home in Florida. Her experiments in the countryside south of Charlotte, North Carolina helped keep them and others safer.

A total of 105 turbines, blowing 140 mph,  creating every kind of wild turbulence that a mobile home could endure.

She tests every possible thing that can go wrong in bad weather. Everything from foundation forces to  shingle strength, from a large.

“The only time we're not testing is when we're constructing. So, we can test!”

Her experiments are more than just spectacular pictures. They teach engineers how to build safer mobile homes.

It’s not just wind. She tests for all the elements – fire, rain, even hail,  attacking mobile homes.

The test facility is built and run by dozens of insurance companies, pooling research dollars, trying to build safer houses to save insurance claims. One test explored safety differences between types of mobile homes.

“There are three zones. Zones 1, 2 and 3. And Zone 3 is the strongest one you can buy.”

Federal law only require the weakest zone,  Zone 1,  for most of Georgia.

Every dealer also sells stronger, better built Zones 2 and 3. The cost difference is at most about $5,000. That could be peace of mind money, as these tests reveal.

The Zone 1 home, when we hit it with strong winds, IBHS windows and doors popped open, and the entire roof came off.

When we had the Zone 3 home in here, open a window, open a door, that home was rockin' and rollin', but it didn't collapse. It was still there.

She reminds mobile home buyers of three critical things: a strong building is important. More critical is installation. And confirming he knowledge you need to stay safe.

“Ask detailed questions when you go to purchase this.  This is your Home! Ask the Questions!” 

And of course, high winds are coming.

Since we began digging into mobile home safety we learned the number of inspectors, and inspections is dropping in Georgia, while the number of mobile homes made and installed in Georgia is going up every month.

Earlier this week, the commissioner in charge of the state office announced he is not running for re-election.  We've made repeated requests but Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says no to talking to an interview.

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