Hurricanes are one of the most destructive forces on earth, capable of devastating entire cities, leaving behind a path of flooding and destruction. A category five hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is capable of winds in excess of 150 miles per hour (mph). To withstand such forces, bridges, buildings, and hurricane fence walls must be engineered and constructed to be resistant to wind gusts and torrential rains.
How Does a Hurricane Wall Work?
Any hurricane fence constructed in a hurricane zone has to be adequately reinforced in the manufacturing process to withstand the wind force as well as to be as impervious as possible to debris striking the wall.
Masonry walls that are not properly reinforced, can be compromised and break apart with the excess forces exerted on them. This is also applicable to seismic activity. Another factor that affects masonry walls is when the continuous foundations are not constructed and reinforced properly. Entire sections of walls can fall as one portion begins to fail and this domino effect can take down large sections of walls.
Since AFTEC walls are made from high strength reinforced concrete, the structural integrity of the system is already incorporated into the wall system. AFTEC’s StoneTree® Wall System is built with large single sections incorporating both column and panel, minimizing the “parts” that could be compromised, and when installed, includes an expansion joint at each column. This allows for expansion and contraction that usually is present with hurricanes, seismic activity, and expansive soil conditions.
These images were provided by AFTEC’s Houston manufacturer after Hurricane Harvey.
There is no need for continuous foundations with precast concrete walls since loads and pressures are engineered into the caisson footing, resulting in less widespread damage, with affected areas being more localized.
Caisson support footings need to be designed to withstand the higher wind loads that hurricane fencing constructed in hurricane-prone areas are exposed to. This will often require them to be extended into the ground further and possibly an increased diameter than fence walls outside of hurricane zones.
AFTEC Hurricane Walls in Action
When any damage is inflicted on AFTEC’s walls, only the wall sections with damage need to be repaired or replaced. This offers a great benefit, minimizing the repair expenses, as contrasted to other solid walls such as block or brick where the same damage would usually extend to greater lengths of the wall installation.