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Home built to withstand tornado winds

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

After the early March tornadoes, many people were left wondering if anything could have protected the homes that were destroyed. For the Powell family in Winchester, they say their home likely would have all four walls standing with little damage.

From the outside, their Winchester home looks like any other. However, like many things it's not what's on the outside but inside that counts, and this house is truly unique.

"It looks a lot like lego blocks," described Ed Powell of a large styrofoam shell, "it kind of goes together like lego blocks."

Powell used these forms to build his daughter, Lalana, and her husband's home.

"You have to line up the tabs," said Powell, adding it's easy to use and will still support a drywall finish on the inside of the home.

These styrofoam shells are light weight and are easily shaped by a small saw.

"Dad has always been highly intelligent and he loves new technology," said Lalana Powell.

When Mr. Powell chose the material, he didn't just select it for it's simplicity. Instead, he chose it for it's strength.

He explains, "It's got places that hold rebar in place to make it strong, then you pour concrete down the middle of it."

Powell says the entire house, from foundation to roof, is built with this styrofoam and filled with rebar and concrete, making the home thick and strong.

An online video shows a similar product being tested. A 2x4 piece of lumber is fired from a high powered cannon at several walls with different materials. With a simple siding, it pierced right through the wall, with brick it broke out a section, but with the concrete molded walls the wood shattered and left little damage.

The product is said to be able to withstand winds over 200 miles-per-hour, and nears the top of the wind speeds for some of the most devastating tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF Scale).

The recent tornadoes in Eastern Kentucky left a long trail of debris and uprooted many homes. The Powell family saw the coverage and say they're grateful their home is able to withstand such a force.

"I think this is a technology that ought to be in Kentucky, but it hasn't quite made it here," stated Powell.

"This really does give you a peace of mind that you can come home, here, and that your family is safe," said Powell's daughter.

The Powells also say the concrete insulation makes the home energy efficient, as well.

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