Structural damage to homes, barns, sheds, etc. is oftentimes hidden from view. Thorough inspections for seen and unseen structural damage is a critical step in the rebuilding process. Photo by Judy Biss
The United States has suffered a series of devastating natural disasters in a relatively short time: September’s Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, October’s Hurricane Michael in Panhandle Florida, November’s Camp Fires in California, and most recently, the November 30th earthquake in Alaska. For those rebuilding after disasters, a critical step is determining the extent of structural damage that may have occurred because of high winds, floods, or seismic quakes. As we continue our rebuilding efforts in North Florida, it is important to understand what to look for while assessing building damage. Often the damage is hidden within the structure, and not immediately obvious.
In response to requests from the Alaska Extension network after the November earthquakes, Dr. Kenneth Hellevang, North Dakota State University Extension Engineer, Professor, and Fellow-American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, provided the information below on how homeowners can conduct their own initial damage assessments to determine building soundness and safety after a disaster. Although written for flooded homes, many of these guidelines apply to hurricane-damaged homes as well.
Kenneth Hellevang, Ph.D., PE, Extension Engineer, Professor, Fellow-American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Before attempting to restore buildings, evaluate the extent of damage and amount of repairs necessary.
“The first thing to do with a building is to check its structural soundness,” says Ken Hellevang, North Dakota State University agricultural engineer. “If the building has been moved, shifted or twisted, it may not be safe to enter. Also, while damage is obvious in many cases, it may not be noticeable immediately and could weaken the building or cause other problems.”
If the building has extensive damage, tearing it down and rebuilding probably will be less expensive than trying to repair it. As a rule of thumb, if repairs and restoration cost more than 60 percent of rebuilding, building a new structure generally is the best option.
To do a thorough inspection, check:
- Ridge and eaves to make sure they are straight
- Walls to see if they still are vertical and straight
- The building to see if has shifted on its foundation
- Frame members, such as knee braces, to see whether they’ve been pushed into the siding or up into the roof
- Trusses and rafters for signs of crushed, split or broken wood
- Frame members to make sure they haven’t buckled or twisted, aren’t bowing out of alignment and don’t appear to have slipped relative to each other or have gaps in a truss joint
- Connections for indications that nail, screw or bolt holes are elongated and nails or other connectors are pulled out of the wood or bent
- Pole building posts for crushed or broken wood near the ground or at truss connections or knee braces. Make sure the posts are straight and vertical. Look for indications that posts made of more than one board may have split along rows of nails.
- Doors or windows to make sure they open as they did before. If they do not, this may indicate the structure has shifted. In cases of severe shifting, water lines, gas lines and electrical circuits may have been damaged.
- Electrical circuits for damage
- Siding and metal roofing for tears around fasteners, evidence of fasteners being pulled, bends or buckles in the metal roof sheets and whether the sheets still are aligned with each other
- Wood for indications of damage that could weaken the building.
You should document any damage with photos and contact your insurance company. Also, consult with a building contractor or engineer if you see several indications of damage.
NDSU Extension specialists Carl Pedersen and Ken Hellevang review what to look for as you re-enter a flooded home in the following videos:
Flooded Home: Inspecting the Outside of the Structure
Flooded Home: Entering the Home the First Time
Flooded Home: Electrical Issues
Flooded Home: Checking Out the Mechanical Systems
Flooded Home: Drying Out
Kenneth Hellevang, Ph.D., PE, Extension Engineer, Professor
Fellow-American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering Department, North Dakota State University Extension Office:
ABEN 117 NDSU Dept 7620, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
E Mail: Kenneth.Hellevang@ndsu.edu
Don Shurley, Professor Emeritus of Cotton Economics
Nearby March futures seems to be working its way into a corner. There still seems to be solid support around 77 cents but then a hurdle to negotiate (or ceiling to break through) at around 82. March is currently around 79 cents.
Last month, I suggested that 80 cents or better would be a good target at which to do some additional pricing on a portion of remaining uncommitted production. That still holds. Prices have shown some willingness recently to move to 80 cents or better but have not been able to sustain it.
One would think with all the production and quality issues and uncertainties continuing to plaque the US crop, that the market would/could make a concerted move higher and stay there, but such has not yet been the case.
While the “floor” at 76 to 77 cents seems secure, at 79 to 80 cents (about where the market is now) there’s roughly 3 cents risk to the downside vs. also about 3 cents potential to the upside. Ideally, and I know this is what growers are hoping for, a little more push to the 84-85 cent area would sure be nice. I would consider that target #2 should we get there.
USDA’s December crop production and supply and demand estimates (released on Tuesday this week, December 11) did not provide positive news for the market. A brief summary:
- The US crop was raised 180,000 bales from the November estimate. Yield was lowered further in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina but raised in Texas. The overall US yield was raised from the November estimate.
- Projected US exports for the 2018 crop marketing year were unchanged from the November estimate.
- The India, China, Turkey, and Pakistan crops were lowered.
- Projected imports were unchanged for China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.
- World use for the 2018 crop marketing year was revised lower for the third consecutive month.
US exports for the 2018 crop year are projected at 15 million bales compared to 15.85 last season. Given a 2.3 million bale smaller crop this year and given the tariff situation uncertainties, 15 million bales in exports would seem to be a great achievement. Going forward, the market will certainly keep an eye on exports, because the bar has been set rather high it seems.
World use is currently pegged at 125.63 million bales. While this would still be a record use, it is 2% lower than the almost 128 million bale estimate made back in September. Yes, the latest estimate is still a record, but some of the air has been let out of the balloon and this undoubtedly impacts the market. This possible erosion in demand is concerning, as with exports, the market will keep an eye on this going forward.
Fiber quality is also an issue. Whether it manifest itself into an industry-wide marketability issue remains to be seen, but fiber quality is wreaking havoc with a significant portion of growers in the Southeast. On top of yield losses due to hurricanes Florence and Michael, continuous rains and more recently, cold weather are delaying harvest and causing deterioration in fiber quality and subsequent financial losses.
31% of the Georgia crop was planted “late” (in June). This compares to 20% typically. As of November 25th, 72% had been harvested compared to 81% average and 83% last season. Delay has worsened since then due to continued rain and wet field conditions. As of Nov 25th, South Carolina was 16 percentage points behind normal harvest.
Lodged and twisted plants due to wind damage, delayed harvest and cold temperatures, and lack of sunshine have caused increased bark content, lower Color grades, and high Leaf grades.
In Georgia, 47% is lower than 31 in Color and Color grade has worsened weekly. 25% of the crop has a Leaf grade higher than the corresponding Color grade. For the season thus far, 9½% of the Georgia crop has graded with bark but for the most recent week, 19%.
Southeast discounts for bark (level 1) are 400 points; mostly 100 to 300 points for Color; mostly 50 to 150 points for Leaf grade.
This week’s featured video was published by Today Tonight to share the story of Knickers, the giant 6’4″ tall, 3,000 pound Australian steer that has become a social media sensation. Knickers is used as a “Coach” or lead steer for a stocker cattle operation in Australia. While he is not quite large enough to break the world record (6’7″), his story is pretty interesting. Check out the video!
If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks: Friday Features
If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to: Doug Mayo
Living and working on a farm or cattle ranch offers many obstacles and opportunities to grow, change, and develop. Many farmers and producers, however, live under constant stress and anxiety of how and when decisions need to be made and the lasting effect it will have on their operation and family. Nothing could be truer than when mother nature sends powerful storms across our areas and you must bear the results of nature’s wrath. If you’ve recently traveled across Interstate 10, in the Panhandle of Florida, for roughly 100 miles between Tallahassee and Bonifay, it’s easy to see that mother nature has changed the landscape in that area forever. Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10th and continued across the northwest section of Florida as one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in our country’s history. This storm affected areas known for beautiful beaches, golf resorts, and summer vacationers, but it also hit one of the more rural, agricultural sections of our state.
Jackson County hay barn destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Credit; Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
Extension agents and volunteers help producers repair fence damaged by Hurricane Michael. Credit Nick Simmons, UF/IFAS
I’ve seen first hand the destruction Hurricane Michael has caused to the agricultural communities in the affected counties. Miles of fence lines have 100-year-old live oaks draped across them with other sections of land having only the bottom half of once dense pine trees. Areas where cattle were once grazing are now laden with branches, power lines, sheet metal and small pieces of equipment. As water tanks emptied due to the lack of electricity, animals began to desperately find places to seek shelter and water usually running down county roads and highways. Some animals were tragically killed from structures or trees falling, or they were severely injured, and were forced to be euthanized. Producers were faced with these challenges all the while trying to find help to remove the 70 ft. pecan tree that lays across their home.
But the determination and spirit of many cattle producers, Extension faculty, local communities and towns were not taken down by Hurricane Michael. In fact, within a day or two, neighbors, agents, and fellow cattlemen showed up with chainsaws, tractors, barbwire, fence posts and much more to help affected producers. Trailer loads of hay, feed, water tanks, fence materials, and human supplies started arriving once roads were safe to pass. Extension agents from all program areas pitched in to help tarp roofs, stretch wire, cut away trees from homes, barns and fences. Water was brought in to disperse for both animals and people. Local cattlemen’s groups banded together to bring much needed supplies to help repair boundary fences and patch barns for safe use. Amid all this, one could see that a producer, who had lost everything and really did not know where to start, begin to take a deep breath of relief. I looked on as fellow producers put an arm around their friend and said, “We will get through this together.”
Extension Agents and volunteers help deliver needed supplies to livestock producers after Hurricane Michael
This was a natural disaster that will be remembered for years to come. The stress level can be overwhelming at times but remember there is help available to aid you through this difficult time. There are resources available to assist your recovery efforts.
Please reach out to these groups to help you through this difficult time.
Recovery from Hurricane Michael will take months and years to replace what has been destroyed. Producers face many tough decisions ahead, but with the help of so many Florida cattle ranchers, Extension Agents, friends and neighbors, the Panhandle of Florida will rebuild.
One of many cotton modules destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Photo by Judy Biss
University of Florida PhD candidate Marcelo Calle is conducting research on how agricultural producers manage their farms in times of change. You are invited to participate in this major research survey by taking the online survey linked below.
The results of this survey will help researchers understand “how farmers and farm owners make decisions.” These insights can be used to provide public and private policy recommendations in addition to identifying financial and market risks that farmers deal with on a daily basis. At your earliest convenience, please click on the link below to answer the questions in this short survey.
Use the following this link to the Survey, or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:
This survey will take about 9 to 12 minutes to complete. Your participation in this study is voluntary and you can exit the survey at any time. There are no direct risks or benefits for participating in this study and you will not receive any compensation from the University of Florida for participating. We are, however, happy to provide you with an executive summary of the findings.
Thank you for your time.
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, University of Florida
Phone: (352) 222 2783