WAAY 31 I-Team: Severe weather draws new attention to Alabama mobile home regulations

In Alabama, your mobile home must be anchored down.

Posted: Mar 13, 2019 4:38 PM
Updated: Mar 13, 2019 5:36 PM

Last week, WAAY 31 saw the damage first hand of the EF-4 tornado that hit Lee County, killing 23 people, and flipping over mobile homes or destroying them altogether.

There are efforts across the state to make community storm shelters and mobile homes safer.

"There are a lot of manufactured homes out there that have not been properly anchored," said Bud Lemmond, who owns Lemmond Mobile Homes.

Lemmond has been selling and installing mobile homes for more than 30 years. He said the state of Alabama requires your mobile home to be anchored.

"Manufactured homes that are properly anchored and set up will stand as much wind force as a house," said Lemmond.

Lemmond said any time they install a mobile home, the state will inspect it to make sure it's anchored properly.

"They will go in and inspect it within a 72-hour frame," said Lemmond.

Lemmond showed us the various methods used to anchor mobile homes, but he says soil, and the size of the mobile home, all play into how it should be anchored. Sometimes people don't do it properly, and older mobile homes aren't required to be anchored.

The Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission was developed in 1988, and they tell us that's when the state started enforcing these regulations by HUD. The problem is that any homes built prior to the HUD regulations are basically grandfathered into the system and don't have to be anchored down.

"There's a lot of people that have their mobile home that was not anchored in a fashion that would probably be as safe today," said Lemmond.

Glenda Hannig lives in a mobile home and said that was the number one question she asked before renting her current home.

"Is it anchored down?" said Hannig, as she explained that her friend told her to ask that before renting. "That was one thing she told me to ask. She said that keeps it. It doesn't completely keep it from flying off, but it will."

Because Hannig has a mobile home skirt, we couldn't show how the home is anchored, but we did ask her what her home is wrapped with.

"I think it's wrapped with metal," said Hannig.

Lemmond said while physically strapping down the home is a good safety measure, so is wrapping the exterior. However, manufacturers are not required to do that with strong materials like plywood.

"That creates quite a danger if a tornado comes and applies, flying objects hit the mobile home. They will go right through it. This is one of the things that I think consumers should look for, is, 'How well is my home wrapped on the outside?'" said Lemmond.

Lemmond said you can check to see what your mobile home is wrapped with by removing a piece of siding to check the walls. He also says you can remove the skirt of a mobile home to see if it's anchored in.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, from 1985 to 2007, more than 1,200 people died in tornadoes. 506 of them died in mobile homes.

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