How Homeowners Can Get Ready Before the Next Big Storm
Current efforts to restore sanity to the homes that experienced wreckage, as a result of the debilitating effects of winds and storm damage that was accompanied with Superstorm Sandy is still ongoing. The tragic effects of this disaster are clearly visible in Long Island even six years after it happened, and this constantly presents homeowners in this area with the reality of how vulnerable the region is to severe weather conditions.
A lot of homeowners, particularly those residents by waterfront areas have taken steps to protect their property in order to alleviate the effects in an event of a future occurrence. From raising houses up in posts, and putting backup generators in place, to the adoption of more impact-resistant windows which includes the installation of hurricane shutters. However, several other homeowners in that area simply fixed the damages without taking that extra step in making it more secure, so it can withstand consequent disasters.
According to a post featured on The Island Press, reports from the property casualty insurers have it that about 72 percent of Americans believe that it is becoming more and more probable for natural disasters to occur, but less than a quarter have taken measures to protect their homes should these disasters occur. Also, just as low as 22 percent of Americans possess a disaster response plan, and only 18 percent have carried out a proper assessment of their homes, and what it contains, and 23 percent have adopted protective measures, like installing quick fixes like hurricane shutters and making their homes more compact.
Owed to the fact that the Atlantic Hurricane Season is most destructive towards the end of August, and in the early days of September. Sandy reaffirmed this when it struck a few days before Halloween. Though the odds are low, but it is still possible for a late-season tropical cyclone to take place.
In all of the United States, Florida is ranked the highest in terms of their preparedness for hurricanes. They operate under the highest-ranked building code, which is adopted throughout the state of Florida. Though this analysis covers only states which are under the authority of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, it can still be said that the state of Florida adopts the best practices to mitigate the effects of an eventual hurricane. This building code that is prevalent in Florida was formulated after the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 in South Florida. This code calls all homeowners to put impact-protection in their homes, and extra protection for homeowners in coastal areas.
These building codes did not apply to communities in the Florida Panhandle, because it was very less likely for people in that area to encounter very strong hurricanes like Andrew. After some time, Hurricane Michael hit.
The code took a full sway in 2002, but didn’t still affect newly but homes in the Panhandle till 2017. Apart from leveraging on hurricane straps and enhanced anchoring of exterior walls, the use of impact-resistant windows and doors or hurricane shutters was also a requirement.
According to The Washington Post, without a doubt, homes that were built in compliance with the code experienced a lesser amount of damage, even in the absence of impact protection. But the main aim of the coastal standards is to avoid flying debris from getting into the home, which results in an upward pressure on the roof. In connection with the lift effect of the strong winds, roof failure becomes more probable.
In case of a rush hour protection, where one does not have the luxury of time to install impact-resistant doors and windows or hurricane shutters, homeowners can nail plywood over their windows and doors to make air flow into the home a little more difficult. But for the case of Hurricane Michael, which took a little less time to develop, making it impossible for residents to protect their homes before evacuating. For homeowners that already installed permanent shutters, this last-minute measures were not necessary.
Given, building homes in compliance to the code increases cost, and the installation of impact-resistant materials makes the cost even more. For this reason, several communities would try not to fully adopt the code to help them spend less. But various studies have shown that building in compliance with the code is actually cost-effective, considering the reduced damage that your home will experienced in an event of a storm.
In view of this, what steps can homeowners take in preparation for a major storm? Apart from the regular steps to protect themselves, like charging their mobile devices, ridding their yards of possible projectiles, having an evacuation plan in place, disposing their refuse, and having a storm kit in place in case of severe cases. How can they prepare their homes for a super strong wind?
Rupi Prasad, a man who recounted his experience from Hurricane Harvey, said that if you have flood insurance, you have succeeded in eliminating one aspect of your worries.
Additionally, it is imperative that homeowners in high-flood-risk areas to adopt some basic steps recommended by Federal Emergency Management Agency to mitigate the heinous effects of storms, this can be achieved by raising the height of their furnace, water heater and electric panel.
Another recommendation by FEMA is for homeowners to inspect valves to avoid water from backing up into drains. Also, they can seal the walls of their basement using waterproofing compounds.
Having contained the aspect of water damage, homeowners should also pay attention to the damages that can emanate from the strong winds. Strong winds can destroy windows and doors which causes the air pressure in the building to rise, making roof failure even more probable.
The primary role of hurricane shutters is to avoid further damages like broken windows, which often leads to further breakage inside your home. And considering the time of the year, and the obvious fact that hurricane season is coming to an end, there is no better time to make your home hurricane proof, by equipping your home with hurricane shutters and adopting other preventive steps before the next storm-season comes around.
Kevin Simmons at Washington Post
Timothy Bolger Long Island Press