Are Manufactured Homes Safe During a Tornado?

MEMPHIS, TN (KAIT)- "They will withstand a lot more than a house. A house is just sitting on piers. That's all it is, is a bunch of sticks sitting on piers," said Dick Moore.

He has owned and operated Dick Moore homes for more than fifty years and says that the idea of manufactured homes being less safe in a tornado is simply a misconception.

"It tears up site builts just as bad. The media just likes to jump on those mobile homes because it makes a big mess when one of them goes through a trailer park," said Moore.

But according to the National Weather Service, research of tornado sites has shown time and time again, that they are more susceptible to damage.

"We end up finding that manufactured homes start to fail due to wind speed and wind stress at a lower wind gust or wind speeds than permanent homes," said Richard Okulski with the NWS.

However, Moore thinks that with tightened standards, manufactured homes are more safe.

"Today's manufactured houses, if they are set up right and tied down properly, they are stronger than a site built," said Moore.

He also says the biggest change to the manufactured home industry came in 1976 when HUD took over. He says since then the building and installation standards for manufactured homes has risen considerably.

The NWS says, by no means do they discourage anyone from living in a manufactured home, but when warnings are issued you need to be prepared, no matter the structure you are in.

"Living in a manufactured home is perfectly fine, if that is the choice you decide to do. You just have to be aware in terms of weather safety in terms of straight line winds and tornadoes," said Okulski.

And as for Moore's thoughts on the issue.....

"If a tornado was coming and sirens were sounding....if there was a warning issued, would you feel as safe in a mobile home as you would inside of a site built home," I asked.

"Well that's a mobile home right there, and it's been right there for 24 years, and I'm in it. That's happened a number of times. I didn't move. I stayed right there in it," responded Moore.

Back in January of 2007 the National Weather Service implemented the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which was constructed by years of studies involving wind estimates based on damage.

In the new scale you can see the speeds of wind that would completely destroy a structure.

For single-family site-built homes, it would take winds in excess of 170 miles per hour.

For a single wide manufactured home that drops to 127 miles per hour, and for a double wide manufactured home, 134 miles per hour.

Again meteorologists stress it's okay to live in a manufactured home, but as with any structure, you should have an emergency plan in place when severe weather strikes.

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