Coastal Building Codes and Hurricane Damage

Carolyn A. Dehring and Martin Halek

Abstract

We explore whether federal- and state-level changes to coastal building standards were effective in mitigating losses to coastal property following Hurricane Charley. We find properties built seaward of and after the reestablishment of the Coastal Construction Control Line, and those built under the National Flood Insurance Program and located in an A-Zone, had more damage relative to similarly located structures built before these regulatory changes. We show the NFIP regulations allowed for weaker foundation requirements and lower elevations relative to the earlier county code. This likely led to greater flood damage, as supported by analysis of individual structural components. (JEL Q54, Q58)