StateImpact Oklahoma
1:35 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Moore Building Code Changes Likely To Focus On Homes, Not Businesses

An open sign is one of the few items left after a tornado struck this convenient store in Moore, OK.
Credit State Farm / Flickr Creative Commons

When the massive EF5 tornado ripped through Moore on May 20, it took out homes and business alike. Since then, the Moore City Council has been considering updating building codes to make homes safer. But as the Journal Record‘s Molly M. Flemming reports, the city’s construction standards for commercial buildings aren’t being altered much:

Those codes are likely to stay the same, with one slight change.

“We haven’t talked about anything regarding actual construction codes,” [City Manager Stephen Eddy] said. “We’ve just talked about safe rooms.”

… He said if the council decides to pass an ordinance requiring all new commercial buildings to have a storm shelter that rule would apply for apartments, senior housing units, even mobile home parks.

The Oklahoma Uniform Building Commission sets the minimum residential building code for the state. And there have been no tornado related additions to the standard since the commission’s inception in 2009.

But that could change. It started just after the storm, when a group of architectural engineers toured area homes to see if anything could have kept them from coming apart.

Any changes they make will likely not be seen by the public until 2015. Some of the changes expected in the codes include requiring a more wind-resistant garage door and a way to strap down the sole plate to the foundation in order to keep the rest of the house in place.

Moore’s officials and their state counterparts aren’t alone in tweaking only the codes for residential buildings. They’re just following the example of Joplin, Mo., and Greensburg, Kan., two other communities hard hit by tornadoes over the past few years.

City of Joplin Assistant City Manager Sam Anselm said the city did not make any changes to its commercial building codes.

“The city council just focused on residential (building codes) because that’s where most of the damages were,” he said.

Greensburg also made no changes to commercial building codes after its storm, but instead focused on building energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings and homes.”

The green buildings weren’t mandated by changes in the code.