Riders in the Storm


riders_in_the_stormI wrote this as Hurricane Ivan was rapidly approaching Pensacola Beach, FL. Mark and I stayed in contact for as long as possible. The MSNBC crew ‘riding out the storm’ also had a satellite phone to theoretically keep their news affiliates updated. Ironically, their equipment continued to function, but the less fortunate crew in Gulf Breeze, FL lost connection. (Black italic print are my additions after the storm passed.)

Because of the power disruption in Florida, my webmaster could not post news updates. Since I was in Montana and fully powered, the format I could use most easily was the Forum. What follows below is what was posted on the Forum (in purple):

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

When Ivan was just a tropical storm out in the Atlantic, Mark had a strong feeling he would be visiting our shores. I wanted to dismiss his premonitions, but he was accurate when he felt the same about Hurricane Opal in 1995. I just hoped against hope that he would be wrong this time. Guess not.

In the past few weeks, the media coverage for dome homes has exploded! Our website has exceeded 6.1 million hits, with several hundred visitors each day. During Hurricane Frances, Good Morning America interviewed Mr. Paul in his dome “Eye of the Storm” and Safe Harbor Dome in south Florida was interviewed by Canadian radio.

In the last few days, Dome of a Home has made an appearance on the Travel Channel; Discovery Channel Canada; Good Morning America; NBC’s Nightly News; NBC’s Today Show; Pensacola News Journal; and the Marin Independent Journal. We have heard through the grapevine that the home has been mentioned on various radio stations and other newspapers, but I have not confirmed those yet.

Since receiving the coverage listed above, the Dome of a Home has also been mentioned on Scarborough Country; Countdown with Keith Olbermann (twice); filmed for a National Geographic feature next month; and more newspapers than I can keep up with.

I need help collecting all of the coverage of the Dome of a Home. I, quite literally, am overwhelmed and could use your eyes and ears to alert me to the coverage so we may include it on our site. Thanks in advance for your help. Email it to me at domeofahome@aol.com

The NBC news crew decided to weather out the storm at the Dome of a Home. They have placed cameras outside to document the arrival of Hurricane Ivan, the Terrible.

Mark and I will be documenting his experience with written reports as NBC makes a visual history of the Dome of a Home’s survival capabilities.
Stay tuned via the forum because I cannot post the progress reports via the webmaster until the storm is over and power is restored.

7:00 pm

Spoke to Mark by phone, the power is still on, the wind is definitely picking up, and water is crossing the street and already flooding our yard. The dome is still silent, the wind is not howling yet. No shaking of the structure or anything noticeable within the dome.
Stay tuned.

11:00 pm

Mark and the MSNBC reporter just completed a fairly extensive report from the Dome. Winds are gusting at 65 mph, and steadily increasing. The water is across the street and the island is flooded. No structural damage has occurred. The home is sturdy, not shaking or causing any alarm. All of the people staying in the dome feel very confident of their safety and the structural integrity of the dome.

We were thrilled that Mark was able to discuss the need for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and conventional financing to be available for these homes. Like the reporter stated, the same insanity keeps happening over and over again: home destroyed; file insurance claim; receive money; build same type home; home destroyed; file insurance claim over and over and over again.

Mark wanted to express that conventional financing should be available for structures that make sense, even if they defy the conventional models. We are grateful that MSNBC is willing to stay in the dome for this experiment. So far, so good.

Although we are extremely distressed about suffering yet another hurricane, the silver lining is the opportunity to educate the masses about structures that are viable in this environment.

Stay tuned on MSNBC tonight. Tomorrow morning on NBC’s TODAY Show from 7 – 10 am, there should be more coverage.

Scarborough Country

Ron Reagan was reporting from Pensacola and stated that he had heard Mark had built two previous storm proof homes that failed.


I love it when they report on hearsay instead of facts. He should call Mark before making such statements. Hey, Ron, the number is 850-723-3774.

We suffered severe damage from 2 previous hurricanes in our original home that was bulldozed to build the dome. I guess the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. We will know much more in the morning.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Just saw Kerry Sanders from MSNBC broadcasting from the dome. Gusts of 65 mph, lots of rain. But, the house is definitely still standing and doing fine.

2:30 AM

The eye of Hurricane Ivan is now making landfall.The eye of Hurricane Ivan is now making landfall. Pensacola Beach is in absolutely the worst position (upper right hand quadrant – east) as the storm arrives. Most of the MSNBC crew is asleep. Mark is awake listening as the wind intensifies and the water is crashing across the island. The storm surge and rain caused five feet of water underneath the dome. Mark says he can hear debris crashing into the dome, but does not feel any movement of the dome from the surging Gulf. He said water is flowing over the entire island. Although he has no visual confirmation, he said it sounds like there are tornadoes howling around the island. He said it is unnerving to realize that there is no land around until you reach Gulf Breeze.

Mark went to sleep after this discussion, said he slept very soundly. Amazing, I have heard people jokingly refer to others as “sleeping through a tornado”, now I know it is possible with Mark and the MSNBC crew.

7:30 AM

Daylight has brought devastating visuals of a storm whose damage far exceeds that of Hurricane Opal in 1995.

The Dome of a Home has maintained its structural integrity! Everyone is safe and the home will be livable again with some necessary repairs. We did have wind driven rain leak through the windows. The good news is that the dome is still standing, albeit with some exterior damage from the staircases that were ripped away by the waves. The geo-thermal system is damaged, the fences gone, and the garage concrete floor has disappeared.

Mark has been traipsing across the island and says that the devastation is extensive. All lower floors are gone with the blow-out walls doing exactly as designed, being blown away, literally. It seems evident the entire beach was covered with at least 5 feet of water. All of the garages and their concrete floors have disappeared. The Catholic Church’s roof has sustained much damage and the school looks like it has been hit hard. Homes that were older and still on the ground floor have basically vanished. The surge has subsided on the Gulf side, but the Sound side of the island is still under waist deep water.

Mark and I are currently composing his account of Hurricane Ivan from preparation, to meeting the MSNBC crew, the decision to stay, frantic phone calls advising them to run, the event, and the aftermath. Stay tuned! We are contending with sporadic power and limited internet services. But, rest assured we will get this story out.