GULF SHORES, Ala. — Three thousand families in Alabama will be better protected against severe weather thanks to the Strengthen Alabama Homes program, which recently funded its 3,000th FORTIFIED Roof™.
Based on decades of research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the FORTIFIED Home™ program helps families protect their homes from severe weather by identifying key construction and roofing practices that can minimize damage from winds up to 130 mph, torrential rain and hail up to 2 inches in diameter.
"Alabama understood that we can make our homes and businesses stronger so more of us can come through the next storm with just minor damage, allowing our towns and our state to recover much faster," said Governor Kay Ivey. "Led by the Department of Insurance, Alabama was a first mover in recognizing the FORTIFIED construction standard provides a roadmap to more resilient communities."
The State of Alabama first recognized IBHS's building standards in 2009 by passing legislation requiring insurers to provide discounts for homes with a FORTIFIED designation, and 2020 legislation ensures a FORTIFIED endorsement is available to every homeowner in Alabama. However, one of the largest catalysts of Alabama's widespread adoption of FORTIFIED is the Strengthen Alabama Homes program, which provides grants to encourage homeowners to upgrade to a roof that meets the FORTIFIED Roof standard.
"Alabamians are all too familiar with the disruption, displacement and loss natural disasters bring and understand why it is so important to protect our homes," said IBHS President and CEO Roy Wright. "Fortunately, the state has led the nation in resilient construction and reroofing for the past decade and is demonstrating how we can narrow the path of severe weather damage."
Established by legislation in 2011, Strengthen Alabama Homes is designed to help homeowners improve property resilience with retrofits that reduce damage caused by hurricanes or other catastrophic windstorm events. When funds are available, the Alabama Department of Insurance offers financial assistance, up to $10,000, to qualified homeowners to assist in the cost of retrofitting their homes. Funding for the program comes from the insurance industry in Alabama and is not funded from the state's general budget.
"IBHS has done a tremendous amount of research to identify solutions to help homes survive windstorms, and we want to make it as easy as possible for families to put that science into action," said Alabama Department of Insurance Commissioner Jim Riddling. "The Strengthen Alabama Homes program has not only helped 3,000 families so far, it has created an awareness of the FORTIFIED program and the need to better protect homes from severe weather."
Due to the overwhelming response to the Strengthen Alabama Homes program, it has not been able to accept new applications for more than a year. However, Director Brian Powell believes that moratorium may be lifted this summer. While the program was initially only available to homeowners along the coast, when the application period reopens homeowners from across the state will be eligible to apply.
"Strengthen Alabama Homes was created in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan, and the bulk of our early work has been along the coast," said Powell. "But, the extra protection offered by a FORTIFIED Roof can also help to minimize damage from other types severe weather. We look forward to seeing homeowners in the North and Central part of the state benefit from the program."