Roofs that resist hurricanes: The case of Isabela de Sagua

Hurricane-proof roofs CIDEM is playing an important role in response to the recurrent hurricanes in Cuba. It's involved in a reconstruction process with a strategy to establish EcoMaterials production workshops in the municipalities so they can respond immediately to the population that wants to repair their houses. 

A living laboratory
It's not just about answers; it's also to ensure that the materials used can resist future hurricanes. Isabela de Sagua, a town in the north of Villa Clara, became a living laboratory to monitor the behavior of EcoMaterials in disaster response projects. In a study carried out after hurricane Michelle, it was confirmed that roofs made with MicroConcrete Roofing tiles (MCR) resist the strong winds.

Hurricane-proof roofs In the municipality of Sagua la Grande EcoMaterials workshops have been functioning since 1998, as a response to hurricane Lili, and they have been able to produce more than 56,000 MCR tiles and 50,000 concrete blocks. This has benefitted more that 300 families, including houses in Isabela de Sagua.

Isabela de Sagua is a settlement belonging to Sagua la Grande; located on a peninsula 1700 m long and 200 to 450 m wide. It has a population just over 2200 inhabitants, predominantly living in houses made of wood and concrete blocks, the roofs of which mostly have a wooden structure covered with tiles, of which a 50% are catalogued to be in a regular or poor technical condition.

It suffers the recurring hurricanes. Hurricane Kate in 1985 provoked the destruction of almost all houses of the settlement which led to relocation of some of the houses. Hurricane Michele caused great damage to the existing houses. Of 500 houses almost 50 where totally demolished and 25 lost their roofs, another 50 suffered serious defects in the roofs.

The study of CIDEM
Taking the effects caused by hurricane Michelle in Isabela de Sagua as a base, a study on the specific behaviour of EcoMaterials used in houses in projects of intervention compared the consequences of the disaster in houses built with other materials (especially roofs with asbestos and clay tiles).

Andres Olivera Andres Olivera leads the group at CIDEM which designed a tool to analyze the data of the houses to be studied and the creation of an informative base that permits a comparative study of the effects of the hurricane in the houses which used EcoMaterials and the rest of the houses of the settlement. Field work was carried out and the platform provided by Access was implemented to manage the data.

Results of the study
While 80% of the houses built with other materials suffered roof damages, the damages to the houses with MCR was only of 10%. In this last case, the problem consisted in damages to the ridge tiles made with clay tiles. The local study and the data base indicate the contribution of EcoMaterials towards reduction of vulnerability to hurricanes.

You are here: Home Past editions Edition 22 - October 2006 Roofs that resist hurricanes: The case of Isabela de Sagua


Orlando Espinosa
Civil Engineer
Spanish, Russian, some English.
Equipment development, MCR workshop installation, operative project implementation


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