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Beach Lover
Jul 17, 2009
Elizabethtown, KY
Lakeview, you make a good point about the variations in construction between the MS coast (pre Katrina) and FL. I think that's all fine and good for a Cat 3 and below. But when you get into Cat 4 and 5, its a whole other deal. The homes I was referring to in Gulfport were at least 100 yards or more from shore, looked to be nearly new, and as I said the locals we were with who "used to live down the street" stated that these homes were supposed to hurricane proof. I'm not a builder so I only have my layman's opinion, but if a 15 to 20 foot storm surge does come rolling into that area, I just don't believe anything built at ground level is going to come out unscathed.

It comes down to a lot of what ifs that we obviously never want to happen, but after seeing what a Cat 4 can do with my own eyes to homes built at ground level and at a similar distance from the water, I'm going to be a little skeptical at "hurricane proof" claims. We have been looking at a few homes in Seacrest Beach right next door to Alys Beach, so if a big storm comes, I'll be in the same boat for sure. The difference is that I certainly won't have any illusions about whether my home will make it.

Smiling JOe

SoWal Expert
Nov 18, 2004
I'm not guaranteeing the work of another, but I'll go out on a limb and say that I would feel pretty safe in a hurricane if I were in an Alys Beach home, and they should have no problems from typical storm surge, even from a Cat 5.


Beach Fanatic
Dec 5, 2004
Bluewater Bay, FL
I wish I'd saved a bookmark for that nice site about SLOSH Modeling that had all the good maps. Because they were good at showing how the MGC is prone to the worst storm surge anywhere on the Gulf Coast because of local topography. The central Panhandle's max storm surge is something like 30-40% less than the MGC because of the topography of the near ocean floor- there's a good drop off in water depths once you get not too far off Destin in the Panhandle, while the MGC is relatively shallow, and shallow leads to bigger waves.

Matt J

May 9, 2007
Just for further clarification a qualified engineer or architect would never use the term "hurricane proof". Nothing is 100% resistant to mother nature's wrath.

Previously someone thought that I was dissing WaterColor's contruction. I wasn't.

WaterColor vs. Alys Beach

Foundation: WaterColor homes are generally above grade or on short pilings. Alys Beach homes are built atop an in ground foundation. Once you have the possibility of water running directly under a structure all bets are off. This was common construction in the south for cooling and minor flooding issues. Notice that along the MGC many home were washed away and didn't have an in ground foundation.

Walls: Most WaterColor homes are wood with metal ties. Alys Beach homes are concrete block that is then filled with concrete or poured in place. This is an incredibly strong wall and as any engineer or architect will tell you maintaining the shell of a structure is the most important key to it surviving any kind of wind event.

Roof: As with the walls most of the roofs are wooden with asphalt shingles or at best a raised metal seam roof. Alys Beach roofs are mostly large concrete slabs. Much less chance of a lift off even with a breach of the supporting walls.

Town plan: WaterColor is designed similar to Seaside. Alys Beach is designed so that the buildings are "stacked" creating a large super structure. In essence most homes in Alys Beach only have two exterior walls. It's kind of like crumple zones on a car. While the ends are sacrificed the interior areas are much safer.

Lake View Too

SoWal Insider
Nov 16, 2008
Eastern Lake
Between what Beachmouse said about the ocean floor topography, what I said about being almost the highest elevation on the Gulf, and what SWGB said about 100% concrete construction (roof and walls) I still maintain Alys Beach homes are the most hurricane resistant homes on the Florida Coast. That being said, I know of several beach "shacks" built in the sixties/seventies without excessive hurricane protection that have weathered everything from Eloise, Erin, Opal, Ivan, and Dennis just fine. Every time a hurricane hits, the weather channel talks about storm surge of fifteen to twenty feet, and every time, it is usually no more than five to seven feet.


Staff member
Oct 15, 2004
If waves are crashing against a structure for extended periods, it will likely come down. Alys Beach is on a high bluff. If surge reaches structures there after the first row, then nearly all of SoWal would be underwater. Category 6? You might as well plan for an asteroid strike.

After Hurricane Dennis, I believe Alys Beach planners decided to add a bit more dune buffer in front of the gulf front homes. If you have waves eating the dunes in front of you bit by bit, all bets are off for that first row of houses, as we have seen.

Wind? No problem. Alys Beach laughs at wind.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKP2SlJjAG8"]YouTube- A tour of Alys Beach, Florida by the Weather Channel[/ame]

John R

needs to get out more
Dec 31, 2005
If I were to be stranded on 30A during a hurricane, I would want to be in a courtyard home in AB.

To clarify some of the statements made earlier in this thread; There has been no environmental manager there for over a year, some of the specs that were listed in coastal edge's post apply to homes built by ABC only, owners and builders make their own choices. Not all the roofs are poured slab. Not all gulffront is commercial on first floor.

With regards to a posting about the events hosted by AB to be sales driven. Sure, it's easy to make that conclusion. But I will venture to say that an event like digital graffiti will continue to grow and not be shut down at the development's completion. The communities that show movies at night for free, are sponsored to attract visitors to retail. I don't know many that have a problem with that. AB will probably host a movie night. Yes it brings potential buyers, but it also indicates(to me) the move of a neighbor who is inviting the public to visit. Running movies is not free.
AB is one development who embraces art and culture and throws a good amount of money towards it.

I do not work there.


Beach Fanatic
Dec 15, 2005
30-A Corridor
I admit that I am biased and I love Alys Beach and I thank those of you who appreciate how the project is coming along and who step in to defend it.... everyone is entitled to their own opinion and not everyone is going to like Alys - and that is perfectly ok.

What staggers me though is the amount of misinformation about the project and that there are some people who routinely fling out total rubbish masquerading as supposed knowledge.

If anyone is interested in knowing about construction at Alys, and what constitutes Fortified structures (NOT hurricane proof!) or if you are just plain interested in learning about sustainable efforts at ALys, you can go at your leisure to the resource room there - it is located just north of Fonville Hill and it is opened daily -no-one is stationed there - it is a self guided tour, you can take your time or rush through it - up to you. And should you have questions, the Sales center is close by and anyone there can answer your queries.

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