In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the building codes of Florida's panhandle are being reassessed. Previously, officials argued that the trees would protect homes.
Tighter codes were implemented in parts of the region in 2007, though the damage from Michael was still severe. Don Brown, former lawmaker and current member of the Florida Building Commission, tells The Washington Post, “We’re learning painfully that we shouldn’t be doing those kinds of exemptions. We are vulnerable as any other part of the state. There was this whole notion that the trees were going to help us, take the wind out of the storm. Those trees [became] projectiles and flying objects.”
Tom Lee, a homebuilder and legislator, says past hurricanes have shown time and time again that the stricter codes help. He said during past hurricanes he looked at the damage by plane and could tell if a home was built before the new code. “The structural integrity of our housing stock is leaps and bounds beyond what it was,” said Lee.