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The Federal Emergency Management Agency Publishes Manual Dedicated to Coastal Construction

The new FEMA 55 Coastal Construction Manual is intended to help design professionals, state and local officials, and builders mitigate natural hazards to one- to four-family residential buildings in coastal areas. 

Building on the numerous findings from BPAT investigations conducted in various coastal areas of the United States, the manual presents state-of-the-art engineering techniques for siting, design, construction, and maintenance aimed at reducing damage from natural hazard events, including hurricanes, northeasters, and other coastal storms. Particular emphasis is placed on mitigating the simultaneous effects of high-velocity flow, wave action, debris impact, high winds, storm-induced and long-term erosion, and storm-induced scour. The manual also addresses multi-hazard issues such as the use of open foundations for buildings in seismically active coastal areas and the selection of building materials resistant to damage by water, windborne debris, and fire.

The manual consists of three volumes consisting of 14 chapters and 12 appendixes: 

Volume I
Chapter 1: Introduction
A discussion of the purpose of the manual and an overview of the contents and organization. 

Chapter 2: Historical Perspective
A history of selected coastal hazard events from the 1900 hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, to Hurricane Georges, which struck Puerto Rico and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast in 1998, including descriptions and photographs of flood, wind, and tsunami damage; findings of post-event evaluations; documentation of successful building performance; and a discussion of the lessons learned. 

Chapter 3: Coastal Environment
An introduction to coastal processes, coastal geomorphology, and coastal hazards, including regional variations within the United States and its territories and the determination of wave height and wave runup elevations in FEMA Flood Insurance Studies. 

Chapter 4: Fundamentals
An overview of acceptable levels of risk; tradeoffs in decisions concerning siting, design, construction, and maintenance; and cost and insurance implications 

Chapter 5: Identifying and Evaluating Site Alternatives
Guidance for identifying suitable sites for coastal residential buildings, compiling property information and other information on which to base an evaluation of the site, and evaluating the effects of hazards. 

Chapter 6: Investigating Regulatory Requirements
An overview of building codes, including the 2000 versions of the International Building Code and International Residential Code and Federal, state, and local regulations. The National Flood Insurance Program, Coastal Barrier Resources Act, and Coastal Zone Management programs are discussed. 

Chapter 7: Identifying Hazards
Descriptions of hazards that influence the siting, design, and construction of coastal buildings: coastal storms, storm-induced and long-term erosion, tsunamis, and earthquakes. 

Chapter 8: Siting
Explanation of the factors that should be considered in the selection of building sites, including small parcels within developed areas, large parcels of undeveloped land, and redevelopment sites. Placement of the building on the site is also addressed. 

Chapter 9: Financial and Insurance Implications 
Explanations of short-term and lifecycle costs associated with alternative decisions regarding siting, design, and construction, including hazard insurance and the effects that such decisions have on insurance purchase requirements and rates. 

Volume II 
Chapter 10: Introduction to Volume II
An overview of the contents and organization of Volume II 

Chapter 11: Determining Site-Specific Loads
Detailed guidance regarding the calculation of loads, including those from high winds, flooding, seismic events, and tsunamis. Load combinations are addressed and example problems are presented to demonstrate how the techniques described in the manual can be applied to real-world coastal construction situations. 

Chapter 12: Designing the Building
Step-by-step guidance for designing a coastal building to withstand the expected flood, wind, and seismic loads. Topics covered include structural failure modes, load paths, building systems, application of loads, structural connections, the building envelope, and utilities. 

Chapter 13: Constructing the Building
Guidance concerning the construction of the foundation, structural frame, and building envelope, including the selection and use of construction materials.
Chapter 14: Maintaining the Building
An explanation of special maintenance concerns for new and existing buildings in coastal areas. Methods to reduce damage from corrosion, rot, fatigue, and weathering are provided. 

Volume III
The 12 appendixes in Volume III present supplementary information, such as lists of FEMA regional offices and state agencies that can provide additional technical and regulatory guidance, Internet information sources, examples of state and community hazard studies and maps, NFIP Technical Bulletins relevant to coastal construction, and guidance concerning the construction of dune walkovers, durability of construction materials in coastal environments, attachment of galvanized roofing, and design of swimming pools to be located in Coastal High Hazard Areas (V zones). 

The final manual was be distributed in hardcopy form (pages, divider tabs, covers, and spines) produced for use with 1-1/2-inch 3-ring binders - one for each volume. FEMA also issued the manual in the form of an interactive CD ROM that uses the PDF file format. 

A 4-1/2 day training course was developed a training course based on the manual and is taught at FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg, Maryland. More information on this course can be found at training.fema.gov

An Independent Study Course is also available. Contact Phillip Moore (FEMA) at 301-447-1248 for more information.

FEMA Mission

DISASTER. It strikes anytime, anywhere. It takes many forms -- a hurricane, an earthquake, a tornado, a flood, a fire or a hazardous spill, an act of nature or an act of terrorism. It builds over days or weeks, or hits suddenly, without warning. Every year, millions of Americans face disaster, and its terrifying consequences.

On March 1, 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The primary mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation. 

FEMA has more than 2,600 full time employees. They work at FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C., at regional and area offices across the country, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, and the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. FEMA also has nearly 4,000 standby disaster assistance employees who are available for deployment after disasters.

Download Detailed Overview of the FEMA 55 Construction Manual Here

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Read about New Urbanism Construction on the Texas Coast Here

Read about Homeowners Insurance on the Texas Coast Here

See all the New Construction Projects on the Texas Coast Here

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