Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum said Monday that in the wake of Hurricane Michael’s devastation, it might be time to review the building codes in that part of the state.
“I’ve seen some of the homes in Mexico Beach where you’ve got homes that have basically stood intact. What I would be curious about is, when were those homes built?” he said, speaking to reporters outside of a Tallahassee International Airport terminal which will now be used to house emergency personnel, the National Guard, and storm cleanup equipment. “Are these some of the homes that have come about since 1992 and is there a major difference in how those homes fared vs. the older inventory of real estate? I don’t know the answer to that, but I would be curious and open to seeing how we need to update our building codes.”
Statewide code mandates that new structures in Miami-Dade County must be designed to withstand winds of around 175 miles an hour, a measure that was implemented in 2002 – 10 years after Hurricane Andrew. But the Miami Herald reports that in places like the Panhandle’s Mexico Beach, Apalachicola and Panama City, the design standard drops to as low as 120 miles per hour.
Last week, Governor Rick Scott agreed that the state may have to revisit improving building codes. “Every time something like this happens, you have to say to yourself: Is there something we can do better?’’ he said.
Gillum said that even as Tallahassee continues its recovery efforts (91% of Tallahassee residents have their power restored and over 6,000 tons of debris had already been picked up as of midday on Monday), Florida’s capital city will now become a hub for emergency personnel working in the Panhandle storm recovery.
He said a tent camp will be erected at the Tallahassee International Airport’s Million Air Terminal to house approximately 1,000 National Guard personnel and about 1,000 vehicles. And he said that the Tallahassee/Leon County region will also become the new home to potentially a couple of thousand residents from the Panhandle who are now homeless.
“The federal government has offered vouchers to those communities and it’s my guess that Tallahassee will become a major repository for folks using their vouchers for housing in our area,” Gillum said
Although he is in an extremely intense contest for governor, Gillum has been off the campaign trail as he continues to focus on his job as mayor of Tallahassee. He said today that he expects to be able to resume campaigning by Thursday.
“My goal is to make sure that we’re at least significantly recovered,” he said. “I think we’re going to be on trajectory to have people’s power back, and if that’s the case I will hit the trail.”