It’s been a year like none other. With hurricane season well underway, homeowners throughout Florida are dealing with the double threat of a natural disaster during the coronavirus pandemic.
The basement and foundation experts at Florida Foundation Authority were curious about how homeowners were handling this double threat.
We surveyed more than 1,000 homeowners living in hurricane-prone states to find out their top concern when hurricane season is paired with the COVID-19 pandemic. The results reveal key insights into what homeowners see as the biggest threat during this difficult time.
What Are Your Main Concerns About Hurricane Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
As residents of Florida know, this is not a typical hurricane season. In addition to the standard risks of a hurricane causing property damage, there are additional concerns about recovery delays, financial challenges and the health threat of COVID-19.
Responding to the hurricane could increase the spread of the coronavirus as people evacuate, gather in groups, and work together during recovery. Researchers from Columbia University found that if there was another storm like Hurricane Irma where 2.3 million Florida residents had to evacuate, it could prompt as many as 61,000 new COVID-19 cases.
Out of the top 10 places in that country that are most vulnerable to hurricane storm surge, six are in Florida. More than 2.2 million properties are at risk in Miami, Tampa, Bradenton, Naples, and Jacksonville. Yet during 2020, typical concerns about hurricane damage are heightened.
Many leaders expect that hurricane response support will be slower this year. Many first responders are already stretched thin, and aid groups may have fewer elderly volunteers because of the health risk of traveling.
Hurricane recovery also depends on inspections by home insurers, building departments, and water companies. Any delays within these groups could mean it takes longer to get back in your house and it’s slower to recover from a natural disaster.
Along with hurricane damage comes the financial challenges of recovery and cleanup. Many households are already dealing with the reality of the economic downturn that followed by COVID-19 shutdowns. Combining this financial uncertainty with the cost of hurricane damages can be worrisome. Even with insurance coverage and FEMA support, homeowners will still face bills for insurance deductibles, uncovered damages, replacing personal belongings, and temporary housing.
For 28% of homeowners, the main concern this hurricane season is power loss. Many experts expect that power restoration will be slower during COVID-19 because of limited resources and new safety practices. For example, homes in Iowa were without power for weeks after this summer’s derecho.
Having no electricity is an inconvenience, but it’s also concerning because of the potential house damage that can occur when the power is out. After a hurricane, speed is important when removing standing water. A slower response can mean homeowners will fight dangerous mold that can grow quickly, and as structural supports become saturated, the whole structure can become unstable.
Notably, some homeowners won’t face this concern. By planning ahead and installing a sump pump with a backup battery, homeowners will be able to quickly deal with any hurricane flooding without needing to wait for power restoration.
About 21% of homeowners responding to our survey are most concerned about crowded shelters because COVID-19 can quickly spread through large groups of people gathered indoors.
Many Florida authorities are encouraging residents to develop an alternate housing plan if there is a hurricane evacuation. This could be staying with friends, family, or renting a hotel room. If more people opt for alternate lodgings, it will decrease the number of residents in the shelters and improve social distancing measures.
About 11% of homeowners surveyed say their top concern is a hurricane-related injury that requires a trip to the hospital.
Health care is on many people’s minds as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise. This year, a trip to a medical center could have different procedures including entrance screenings, visitor restrictions, and requirements for face masks.
In response to the new challenges of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its recommendations for hurricane preparedness kits. Current recommendations now include wipes for disinfecting surfaces and hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol. While an unforeseen accident may be out of our control, a well-supplied disaster kit can be an important health precaution.
Is your home protected against a hurricane? Learn how you can minimize hurricane damage by signing up for a free inspection from the area’s top foundation repair and crawl space repair experts.