If you were to pinpoint Black’s Island on a map and compare it to the path of devastation taken by Hurricane Michael, you’d come to one conclusion: The odds were definitely not in its favor.
Tucked between Mexico Beach and Apalachicola within the St. Joseph Bay, the seven-acre private island resort was well within the storm’s destructive cone, where winds reached a devastating 155 MPH. In nearby Port St. Joe, the closest city to the island, homes were leveled and storm surge reached the double digits.
Yet, here on Black’s Island, things turned out surprisingly well: Every one of its 26 charming guest bungalows is still standing strong. It’s not magic or luck that saved this little sliver of land—the island itself still suffered considerable damage—but the result of reliably resilient building.
See the island before:
Each of the two-bedroom, 1,250-square-foot bungalows on Black’s Island are prefabricated according to a recipe perfected by Deltec Homes, a company based in Asheville, North Carolina. Through a combination of design, engineering, and materials, Deltec’s signature round homes have stood up to every major hurricane since Hugo in 1989—with a near-perfect survival rate.
Their secret, according to the website, lies partially in the homes’ unique round shape, which allows the angriest of hurricane-force winds to flow around the structure rather than build up on one side. It also lends itself to building practices that are naturally more storm-strong: circular homes are held together with radial floor and roof trusses which meet at the center of the home and fan out like spokes on a wheel, reinforcing the building’s strength. Deltec’s homes also use a combination of storm-tested materials, from the framing lumber to the impact-glass windows.
The survival of the Black’s Island bungalows is just one of the many post-hurricane success stories the company has shared. Their hurricane-resistant gallery shows their prefab, stilted homes standing—and often appearing completely unscathed—while surrounded by fallen trees and rubble. The reputation has inspired many homeowners in the vulnerable hurricane belt to go prefab—not just for the storm-proof benefits, but also for the speed, efficiency, and cost in building. (The smallest of Deltec’s models—a 328-square-foot tiny home—starts at a reasonable $80k for a turnkey home.)