Hurricane season officially began on June 1st, and indicators point to a more active storm season than normal. For the 2022 hurricane season, NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes. Hurricanes have, by definition, winds of 74 mph or higher. NOAA’s predictions say that they may include three to six major hurricanes, which are considered category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher.
Clearly, if you live in the southeastern United States, or anywhere along the Atlantic coast, hurricane preparedness is part of your home maintenance program. The time to prepare, says Tim Tracy, sales manager of Groundworks, is not while a hurricane is approaching.
“Before a storm approaches, check the foundation drainage system. Along with gutters and downspouts, make sure your basement or crawl space is waterproof with the necessary drainage systems. A sump pump with battery backup is essential during power outages. Maintain your roof. Repair any loose or missing shingles. Any damage here can allow rain into your attic, doing a great deal of damage to your home. Keep your trees trimmed.”
During a hurricane, water generally causes more damage than wind, and just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damages, according to FEMA.
“Review your insurance policy,” Tracy adds. “Flooding from storms isn’t typically covered by homeowner’s insurance. Check with your insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program on the coverage that’s available.”
An essential element of storm preparedness, he says, is to have a plan.
“Having a family emergency plan is important, including practicing the steps you will take if hit by a hurricane. Set an emergency meet-up location if you are not in the same place when the storm hits.”
Once a hurricane makes landfall and begins producing heavy rain and wind, some of the conditions that make for damage include siding or roofing that is falling off, windows that are not properly secure, gutters that are not cleared. Clogged drains can exacerbate flooding. If water has nowhere to escape to, it will pool and rise.
“Make sure drains are clean and your sump pump is functioning; this will ensure intruding water also has a place to escape,” Tracy says. “Make sure you have an extra sump pump or back up power ready. Also, the contact information for home services professionals to call in case your property is heavily damaged.
“If evacuating, take these extra steps to protect your home: cover the windows and secure the doors. Should a window break, it will not only let in rain, but wind. Once the wind finds an opening, it can put a great deal of pressure on the walls and on the roof. Put plywood over your windows or hurricane shutters. Add a wind-load garage door. Keep gutters clear. Gutters and downspouts should be cleaned out and repaired. They move rain off your roof and guide it away from the foundation. Any pooling around the foundation, particularly if the ground is already saturated, can cause basement or crawl space flooding. Move valuables to higher places, both outside and in.”
After the hurricane blows through, says Tracy, homeowners should complete this inspection checklist to evaluate damage:
“If you return to a home that looks unsafe to enter, do not enter. If the home appears structurally sound, the checklist of items to inspect starts from the ground up. Check your basement or crawl space for water intrusion or damage. Clear any water that remains. Get it out as quickly as possible to ensure further damage doesn’t occur.
“Once the basement is clear, check the interior walls for cracks and separation, the windows to ensure they haven’t been knocked out, siding that may have been displaced, and (with proper precaution) the roof inside the attic and outside the home.
“If you suspect a problem, call a trusted home services professional to inspect the damage. An issue will never be cheaper to fix than it is today.”
To reinforce his points about preparedness, Tracy quotes a statistic from the National Institute of Building Science.
“Every dollar spent in disaster mitigation saves six dollars in repairs.”