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RE: Rebuilding the Gulf Coast

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	Major natural events are often the catalyst that force engineers, code
officials, insurance companies, FIMA and the building industry to new
technology that will ultimately improve the safety and quality of the
structures that are re-built.  Just consider the results of the North-ridge
earthquake.  We can anticipate the same results from the Katrina Event.
	For the past 2 years I have been working with a client who wants to
re-construct a home adjacent to Malibu Lake here in So. California.  The
design criteria to obtain a building permit from Los Angles County under the
FIMA guidelines will be to construct all living floor space one foot over
the 100 year flood elevation that is set by the Los Angles County Public
Works officials in the immediate area.  (In the is case it is a higher
elevation than the FIMA mapped elevations.)  I am sure that the
re-construction of structures in the south coast will have a similar
	Now for new technology that may have an application for this
reconstruction.  For more than 40 years there has been a structural panel
built from wire trusses and face wire with a Expanded Poly Styrene foam
core.  The exterior surface of this wall panel is typically 1.5 inch thick
shot Crete applied concrete veneer (2000 psi).  This structural system is
now used extensively world wide... There are currently 3 or 4 manufactures
trying to market the panel construction here in the United States.  In my
research I find that the manufactures are struggling with the problems of
ICC Testing Criteria and Evaluation reports that can be published for
engineers designs and plan check approvals.
	Last year I designed two structures from the Foam Core / Concrete Veneer
system. The plan check process was painful even with current ICC Evaluation
reports.  So new structural framing technology will require more
Jim L. Chatterley PE
Composite Framing Systems, Inc.
2723 Currier Ave., Simi Valley, California, 93065
805-520-3666   Fax 805-583-1434

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis S. Wish, PE [mailto:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2005 6:58 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Rebuilding the Gulf Coast

I have been traveling for the last month - visiting family in Chicago. I
drove through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri,
Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa and Illinois on my path to and from La Quinta
California to Waukegan Illinois.
Each day the news coming from the Gulf became more and more devastating.
There is an effort of neighbor helping heighbor when the families are able
to leave the area and find temporary housing with families and with
coordinated efforts of the religious community across the nation.
Our professional efforts will be needed to resist nature using many of the
latest and ecconomic materials that can provide solutions for housing on a
broad basis. My concern is that this will become a "market" that the public
believes is created to line our pockets and as with those who take advantage
of the situation, will harm our profession when our efforts are to help.
Do we consider the necessity of recreating "tracts" or do we provide
individual design for the homeowner's who want to rebuild once the elevation
issues and flood control concerns are engineered.

I believe that we, as a professional community, can organize our efforts all
across the United States to help rebuild these three states. The labor force
is out there and we should be able to organize a means of creating housing
that will be designed to resist greater forces using new technology and
materials and do so at a more ecconomical cost. Rather than greater cost due
to demand, we should be expecting that material costs can be reduced by
increasing the demand and eliminating the storage or warehousing costs.

I'm not sure if I am being clear on this, but I would think that quantity
equates to greater purchasing power. When I was in business some twenty
seven years ago, we had lower prices on containers for customers who
purchased greater quantities. This does not mean that developers in a time
of crisis should be able to maximize profits at the expense of the public,
but that the public should be the recipients of our good well by creating a
design and construction principle that will help reduce the cost of design
and lower the cost of materials. Labor is competitive; some suggested that
to help lower the cost, the Federal Government can temporarily eliminate the
Davis Bacon Act - however, I understand the Union arguments that to do so
may effect the quality of construction.

Is this a problem that we should be discussing in order to help building
officials and municipalities pass along the help to the homeowners who need
to rebuild.

A few months ago the Federal Government and the President signed a law into
place that essentially eliminates the ability of private citzens to file
bankruptsy. Will the government repeal this law when the thousands of
homeowners can not afford to rebuild. Remember that flood insurance is only
available to those who have a mortgage. If you own your own home, you can
not obtain flood insurance in this region. I'm not sure if this is typical
across the nation, but I've heard authorities discuss this in the media.

I feel that we need to do something more than send money, blood, food or
temporary housing - the structural engineering community needs to look past
the short term and address the challenge to rebuild the one structure that
represents more than 90% of all structures - residential homes.

I've been off the list for nearly a month because of my travels back east. I
don't know if this has been discussed but if anyone is interested in
discussing this with me privately and in cooperation with material
manufactures of proprietary products that can be used to ecconomically
rebuild a stronger and better performing home, we may be able to set a new
standard for the future.

My heart goes out to those who have lost everything; and living in
California I feel that we are vulnerable from a high risk of natural
disaster. What can we do, using our professional talents to help without
seemingly taking advantage of the situation? I don't doubt that there are
enough large firms to rebuild commercial and essential facilities. Homes are
sacred to all of us - when we lose a home or can no longer feel safe within
our homes then we feel violated and probably at the lowest level of our
lives. Our homes are much more than a roof over our heads, they are are safe
haven and these people deserve to feel safe again.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant

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