Hurricane Homes

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These houses are supposed to withstand wind gusts up to 130 miles per hour. Unlike the rest of the state, Panhandle homes within one mile of the coast are in the windborne debris region, an area with the strictest wind codes.

Tom Ledman, the president of Ledman Construction and Development, says the new protections add to a sense of security.

"The standards for uplift protections are higher, and in many cases if it's within 1,500 feet of the Gulf, the size of the dimension of the plywood is thicker, the dimension of the roof sheeting is thicker."

Outside the one-mile region, houses still have to be built to withstand the 130 mph gusts, but they don't require the same window protection and it can come at an added expense.

"Most homeowners do not voluntarily upgrade their homes. Some do if they know they're in an exposed area."

Bay County Building Services says the protected homes may have lost shingles and vinyl siding, but the structure was well maintained near the coast because of the stronger codes, but the intense strength of a hurricane has yet to be tested here in Bay County, and while the homes may withstand a storm, it doesn't mean your house should become a shelter if it's in an evacuation area.

"We've had a 65 mph storm, and if we had a full-blown Category 4 hit dead on to Panama City, we'll be put to the test. Until that happens, I would caution people not to get too secure or not to let their guard down."

Letting your guard down is just what it takes to let a sense of security take over better judgment.