Masonry structures built to comply with current building codes performed well in the face of Hurricane Katrina according to the preliminary assessment of a disaster investigation team sponsored by The Masonry Society (TMS). Arriving in Mississippi three days after Hurricane Katrina struck, the team observed intact, partially damaged, and demolished structures in Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, and other Mississippi coastal towns.

“There is a vast improvement in the performance of structures built in the past 10 years compared to structures designed according to older codes,” says NCMA's Jason Thompson, structural engineer. Thompson added, “Intact masonry structures throughout the affected coastal region exhibited wind resistance characteristics that are expected from structures designed and constructed according to the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC).” Prominent instances of concrete masonry walls withstanding the hurricane forces were noted. Images of those and other projects are posted at www.ncma.org/Katrina, or linked at www.masonrysociety.org

Sylvester Schmidt, chairman of the board of the National Concrete Masonry Association said, “As we are seeing from Katrina, the social and economic impact of a hurricane can cascade throughout the country immediately following the event. Particular attention needs to be paid to both proper construction methods and the use of substantial materials. Concrete masonry is clearly an appropriate choice to help to minimize future losses.”