WEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) – Florida International University’s International Hurricane Research Center put its Wall of Wind to the test Tuesday afternoon, demonstrating a category five hurricane with wind-driven rain inside their laboratory.

This year’s simulation showed tremendous progress made in the 20 years after Hurricane Andrew’s path of destruction.

“You know everyone has an Andrew story,” said Erik Salna.

Salna is the Associate Director of FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center.

“It did impact businesses, and schools. But it affected our lives.”

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida causing more than $25 billion worth of damage. But Hurricane Andrew’s legacy wasn’t all bad, it prompted an $8 million project aimed at hurricane resilience through research using the Wall of Wind.

It is a 12 fan wind wall with 8,400 horsepower. Each fan is about six feet in diameter and altogether can generate winds of up to 160 miles per hour.

“You can actually build something and test it in the wind and see how it performs,” said FIU’s Professor of Practice Peter Irwin.

The Wall of Wind was put to the test in a live demonstration at Florida International University Tuesday afternoon.

One structure was built to codes set before Hurricane Andrew, and the other built to codes set after Hurricane Andrew.

“In the end the pre-Andrew building did not perform as well overall as the post-Andrew building which means we’ve done something, but there were still issues with roof shingles on the post-Andrew building,” said Irwin.

“It really showed we’ve come a long way as far as building codes and the types of materials we use on our homes and businesses,” agreed Salna. “We learn from structures but it’s the people that live in those structures that’s what it’s all about. It has to be a way of life; it has to be a culture of preparedness and a culture of mitigation.”


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