The Masonry Society Disaster Investigation Team found that reinforced masonry buildings with composite masonry walls, strip footings and piles performed well when Hurricane Fran hit the North Carolina coast on September 5, 1996. Winds gusted up to 115 mph, the sea surged 8 to 12 feet higher than usual, and 15 inches of thundering rain deluged the area. Within 48 hours, a disaster team from The Masonry Society (TMS) arrived to investigate the extent of the damage. The team looked for damage from wind, wind-borne debris and storm surge. Since the wind velocities were relatively low and there wasn't that much wind-borne debris, most of the damage was caused by storm surge. "Good performance of most masonry structures subjected to significant storm-surge loading was probably attributable at least in part to their foundations, with deep piles connected by reinforced concrete grade beams, which supported the masonry walls," according to the report issued by TMS. "This type of construction appears to be very resistant to hurricane damage and its use should be encouraged." The most severe building damage from wind and storm surge noticed by the investigators was on Figure Eight Island. Dunes were washed away when the storm surge (between 8 and 12 feet high) and 5-foot seas swept over the island, carrying, among other things, several first-floor walls with them. A single-family residence on Figure Eight Island lost its roof during the high winds. Neither the wall sheathing nor the joist tie-downs had been extended adequately to connect the roof to the wall framing of the house. Despite Fran's ferocity, the masonry buildings located on the state's southeast coast withstood the battering well. Unreinforced masonry buildings suffered more damage than reinforced ones and the combination of composite masonry walls, strip footings and piles showed little or no visible damage. The investigators encourage the use of reinforced composite masonry construction in potential hurricane paths.