Case Studies Assessment, Inspections, and Permitting for Disaster Recovery
Post-Disaster Building Services in Windsor, CO
Delivering the permits needed to help a community rebuild faster
May 22, 2008 started like any other spring day, but the beautiful weather was quickly replaced by an ominous sky. A supercell thunderstorm rolled through northern Colorado, spawning tornadoes and barraging the area with baseball-sized hail.
When the storm cleared, the Town of Windsor, a growing community located 59 miles north of Denver, lay devastated from a mile-wide tornado that tore a 35-mile-long path and caused $193 million in damage. The National Weather Service rated the tornado an EF3 with winds that exceeded 136 mph. Businesses and homes were destroyed, debris clogged the roads, and shocked residents started picking up the pieces of their lives.
SAFEbuilt springs into action
As the Town’s building department services provider, SAFEbuilt immediately engaged with Town staff and first responders to assess damaged structures and sweep the area for victims and others in need. Our first priority was to assess structures damaged by the storm. After issues of life safety were resolved, we made every effort to help the community rebuild as expeditiously as possible. Leveraging its strong network, SAFEbuilt brought in inspectors from across the state, as well as members of Colorado’s International Code Council (ICC) chapter. The team worked alongside the Colorado National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and police and fire departments to isolate the hardest hit areas, control the flow of gas and electricity, and install security personnel to minimize looting.
Putting mobile technology to work
SAFEbuilt dispatched two mobile permitting units to assess damage and issue permits on the spot. The team visually assessed 800 structures in just three days. With in-the-field permitting capabilities, the team was able to issue hundreds of permits and perform the necessary inspections only days after the disaster. More than 100 homeowners were able to start rebuilding their lives quickly and in compliance with proper building codes. To help ease the financial strain and enable residents to repair their homes and businesses as quickly as possible, SAFEbuilt suspended the collection of fees for tornado-related building permits. The company ultimately waived $130,000 in permit fees.
Providing words of wisdom
SAFEbuilt personnel also canvassed the Town on foot, addressing questions from residents and business owners. In instances where construction crews were already onsite, SAFEbuilt advised homeowners to secure contractors’ proof of insurance and credentials.
Among the damaged areas in Windsor was the beloved Chimney Park, the Town’s baseball park. Fences, bleachers, restrooms, and concession stands were destroyed, and debris was embedded in the sod on the fields. Wanting to return some joy to the community of 18,644, SAFEbuilt set up a tornado relief fund. The company ultimately raised nearly $24,000 from employees, clients, and business partners. The money aided the Town in fixing the ball fields, giving community residents a chance to return to the fun they had prior to the storm. Now that the storm is just a distant memory, the Town of Windsor is better than ever – having recovered from the immediate damage and implemented initiatives to improve facilities and services. SAFEbuilt is pleased to have been a part of helping this town not only fully recover but thrive.
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