Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have caused mass disruption across the country bringing strong winds that have battered buildings, ripped off roofs, torn down trees and left significant devastation in some areas. Rarely do we see one storm of this magnitude, let alone three of them back to back, and certainly this latest weather front has been the worst to hit the UK in over 30 years.
We’re seeing images of apartment blocks that have had huge chunks of cladding ripped off the sides, aircraft hangers that have lost their roofs and churches that are now missing their spires. Probably the most newsworthy building to have suffered severe damage is the famous O2 arena, whose giant 52m big top structure, supported by a dome-shaped cable network from 12 king posts, is now partially exposed after a section of the roof was whipped off by 80mph winds. The canopy is made of PTFE-coated glass fibre fabric, which is a durable, weather-resistant plastic but when mother-nature strikes to this extreme degree, even the most iconic of venues are at peril.
Many factors will play a part in determining which buildings were damaged – proximity to trees, topography, exposure to coastal winds – but all we can do is ensure we are using the highest quality materials that are well engineered, meet strict building standards and are built to last. This requires being tested in the most severe conditions, including very strong winds, heavy snow loadings and abrasive salt corrosion.
We are pleased to report that only a handful of our older design and manufactured buildings experienced minimal damages that are easily repairable. These include two, which have covers older than 20 years that now need to be replaced, and a couple of bent curtain runners for front doors. However, we hear that the building we installed for the purpose of manufacturing high-speed craft ferries and aluminium ships at Wight Shipyard in East Cowes in 2019 did not even flinch when hit by the record 122mph winds.
It is therefore not surprising to know that our choice of galvanised steel is growing in popularity within the prefabricated building industry, not only because it is more affordable and quick to install, but its ability to absorb energy makes it more superior in terms of safety and durability. It’s ironic that, in days gone by, we could expect to pick up additional work from storms. Now, we make our structures so well that the phone rarely rings to attend to storm damage, which is great for reaffirming confidence in our products but not great for creating additional business opportunities!