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The growth of hurricane-induced losses from US$1.3 billion per year before 1990 to US$36 billion per year after 2000 [National Science Board, 2007] is a direct result of over 50 years of accumulated socioeconomic decisions to invest in physical infrastructure and community development along coastlines. Fifty percent of the U.S. population now lives within 80 kilometers of a coast [National Academy of Sciences, 1999]. With hurricane losses surpassing the US$100 billion mark in 2005 (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml) and over 1400 fatalities in 2004–2005 [Government Accountability Office, 2006], it is hard to identify any other societal need or engineering problem that is as challenging, recurring, and multi disciplinary or with as far-reaching impacts as hurricanes.

The devastation brought by recent hurricanes that have struck U.S. coastal states demonstrates the need for mitigation tools that can significantly reduce losses. A current research initiative by the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) at Florida International University (FIU) will allow for the first time full-scale testing of the impact of hurricane-force winds, wind-driven rain, and flying debris on houses and low rise commercial buildings. The Wall of Wind testing facility, an innovative research capability developed by an IHRC research team, is the first major initiative to operate a full scale facility dedicated to hurricane damage mitigation [Leatherman et al., 2007].