He used photos taken by USAA to describe to a Circuit Court jury the wind’s damaging effects on the two-story home of Adm. James W. and Gladys Kemp Lisanby, policyholders suing the company.
“If I have an engineering student in my class and he does not see this is wind damage, I will flunk him,” said Ralph Sinno, a civil engineer and professor at Mississippi State University.
Sinno, who speaks with a Lebanese accent, told the jury almost as soon as he took the witness stand: “I was able to arrive at a very convincing conclusion. The Lisanby home was damaged by the wind loading to the house. If there was water in the house due to storm surge, this water was a Johnny-come-lately.”
Sinno also said the roof was subjected to uplift from the wind and the interior of the house to a “tunneling effect.”
Anita Lee provided this update on testimony in Lisanby v USAA in today’s Sun Herald. USAA holds that water destroyed the first floor of the house and on that basis the Linsanby’s claim was properly handled and paid.
Lee’s update also completed the testimony of a neighbor testifying on the depth of water coming into the neighborhood.
Earlier Wednesday, Lisanby neighbor Steve Loper testified he rode out the storm at his house on Washington Avenue, due north of the Lisanbys’ property. Loper rose around dawn.
Within short order the wind embedded his Ford F-150 pickup in the ground, peeled hurricane-resistant shutters from his windows and front door and sent a beam, 19 feet long, crashing into an inner wall of his home.
Loper said he tucked personal identification papers into a sandwich bag, taped it to his body and called his wife and children to say goodbye.
He started to cry as he recounted the morning of Aug. 29, 2005.
“I didn’t think I would be there at the end of the day,” Loper said.
Under cross-examination, Loper acknowledged wind-driven water could have damaged portions of his property and the Lisanbys’, including their garage and a guest cottage.
After the storm, he told a USAA engineer the water was 8 to 10 feet on Washington Avenue. After studying photographs, Loper said he was mistaken. He told the jury the water’s height was closer to 3 feet on the Lisanby property.
There was no rhyme or reason to Katrina’s pattern of destruction – that I know because I saw the most incredible things. A friend who worked in the relief effort provided these pictures from a Biloxi neighborhood.
What you’re looking at is a house broken apart and then washed to the street ….
Across and down the street, you would see buildings that looked as if there had been no Katrina at all – but later destroyed because of the extensive water damage not visible from the exterior view here. This shot is the house directly across the street with a view of others between there and the corner.