REPORT #235 April 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Dome houses are hurricane resistant by many factors stronger than flat sided houses. If the PUP are going to build 10,000 houses that are flat sided with the donated Cuban house building factory( whatever that is), shouldn't the PUP government of Belize be spending the money on hurricane resistant housing?

Dome concrete houses can be built tongue and groove connected petal sided, from precast forms. Because walls and roof are one piece and the surface is curved and strong like an eggshell, they are wind resistant and resistant to flying debris. Or you can use the inflated form model with Shotcrete and blow the concrete on ,over the inflated form.

Belize is at the Western end of Hurricane Alley. The current cycle of big hurricanes for the Caribbean is now five years along, in a predictable 25 year cycle of a two century pattern. More Hurricanes like Mitch in the Force 5 range are expected over the next 20 years in this dangerous cycle.

A Force Five hurricane like Mitch coming ashore, will simply blow away any flat sided houses. Tear them up. But dome houses can survive up to 200 mph winds. If there is an offside to dome housing, it is flooding and rainwater washing out the anchors. We are not talking the historical record of Hurricanes hitting Belize like Hurricane Hattie. We are talking about Force Five hurricanes which are probably 64 more times destructive than Hurricane Hattie ever was in 1961. Hurricane Janet was a baby compared to a Force Five hurricane. There isn't a boat made today, including aircraft carriers that could survive a Force Five hurricane at sea. That should give you some idea of the strength we are talking about. Think in terms of three thermonuceur bombs being dropped on Belize. Dome houses can survive this with the eggshell structure and compression loads and smooth outer surface with inset bolted down window shutters.

The World Bank apparently has $70 million USA assigned for hurricane housing in the Caribbean. There has also been some new technology to come along that gives villages the opportunity to be independent of the current old fashioned power grids being used in Belize. Plus, wireless loop and ITSP technology will give villages all the communications that they need, including telephone and internet service inside of those dome homes. Independent villages built with government assisted dome houses using the latest technology for electricity and communications seem to be the way to go in Belize. It might not have been 25 years ago, because mortgages and financing programs did not exist. But lately with the improvement in education and methodology in Belmopan on mortgage financing systems, this is all becoming a very practical way to go.

The bottom line is, that we are in Hurricane Alley. The second thing is that we are bound to get hit at least once and maybe several times in the next 20 years. Can we do something about it, to reduce the devastation? I think so. Dome houses, even though they do not currently fit popular conceptions of traditional flat sided rectangular and square structures are more sure of surviving a Hurricane Mitch of Force Five and probably will not even sweat out a Hurricane Hattie, or Janet, or anything under Force Three hurricanes. The question is; what responsibility does the PUP government have to spend the housing foreign loan money wisely? Should they be building flat sided houses with borrowed money, only to see it all blown away by the next huge hurricane? Or is it their responsibility to spend borrowed funds more wisely on Hurricane designed homes such as dome houses?

Will a hurricane that destroys your flat sided concrete house and blows it away, also blow away your mortgage obligations? If not, should you then expect the government to build hurricane resistant dome houses? That would seem the more financially responsible policy? Can any village units of 90 houses built dome style, also include the latest solar technology and inverters for power supplies, or gasifiers, or turbine technology? I recently saw a fabulous solar panel that uses a light filtration system of solar cells in a three layer format, that produced power I would never have believed. It was a quarter of the size of current panels and produced three times the power. (uni-solar, Kyocera Corp.) Where does the responsibility of the PUP government lie when they have to borrow foreign loans for a promised 10,000 homes. Should they build traditional homes that can be destroyed or if the cost is relatively similar, should they be going the self-sufficient village and town community route, that is different but stronger and better and most probably will survive any Hurricane from Force three to Force Five and up.

How responsible is the PUP government going to be for those mortgages for flat sided homes that will be blown away in a Hurricane Mitch style storm and those electrical towers and power lines that will be destroyed? If they borrow money to construct things, to what extent should they do the right and best thing? We can do it now, but couldn't 25 years ago. Because the financing mortgage systems didn't exist. They do now!


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