MRA responds to challenges presented by hurricanes

Anyone who has been a part of the construction industry for more than a few years can tell you about the changes brought about in the wake of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. The storm caused massive damage and brought about major building code changes in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The area is now recognized as having some of the most stringent provisions of any U.S. building codes. The good news for the metal roofing market is that our products meet or exceed all of these strict codes. As a result, many Florida homeowners now choose it for their homes, and metal roofing enjoys a strong market share.
Last year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes set new records for devastation, personal tragedy, and property damage. In this age of instant, round-the-clock news, the whole world watched as families were plucked from rooftops, residents suffered in deplorable conditions, and homes were battered by the storms. The media’s ability to bring this plight to millions of homes as it unfolded, coupled with the political turmoil over who was responsible for helping those affected, made this a story that will be revisited for many years to come. In fact, it’s become one of the defining moments of our age.
A year later, the dust is beginning to settle, and the hard work of rebuilding has begun. Even so, the scale of the tragedy is hard to grasp. Industry experts estimate that more than 350,000 homes were destroyed, and more than 700,000 roofs need to be replaced.
While nobody would have hoped for this outcome, the storms presented an unprecedented opportunity to expand the residential metal roofing market.
We find ourselves uniquely positioned to grow our market share and make a lasting contribution to the durability of the area’s homes and its workforce at the same time. Members of the Metal Roofing Alliance are actively involved in assessing the damage and recovery efforts in the area. We know our products will perform well in these extreme conditions, but we need to spread the word. So, a big part of our plan is to better educate both builders and homeowners about the benefits of metal roofing.
Through our ongoing marketing and public relations efforts, we’re letting both important groups know that metal roofing systems are subjected to rigorous examinations including: testing the panels for wind uplift resistance; testing panels and rim conditions to 110 mph wind-driven rain, and salt spray testing of coating for 1,000 hours. Metal panels under 22-gauge also are subjected to a brutal 2×4 impact test. Only panels that cannot be perforated by a 2×4 launched at high speed will meet the code and be installed. Many states, particularly in the Gulf region, are amending building regulations to reflect the strict Miami-Dade codes.
The second key element of our response plan is to help develop a skilled workforce in the area to help contractors meet this unprecedented need. Many contractors lost a large percentage of their workforce following the storms, as many residents who evacuated did not return.
As a result, MRA’s executive director, Tom Black, is spearheading a program to develop ongoing metal roofing training programs in conjunction with the administrators of three Louisiana and Mississippi community colleges. The proposed program will consist of 10 days of hands-on training, including OSHA training with Gulf Coast community college instructors. The students will learn using partial and full-scale roof mock-ups of a residential structure. Following the initial training, the students will perform an actual residential installation under the guidance of an MRA residential roofing contractor.
The ongoing demand for metal roofing is expected to continue to grow. The more trained installers that are available, the more growth we can accommodate. All eyes will continue to be on this region, and we’re looking forward to showcasing the many benefits of residential metal roofing.

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