In 2017 during Hurricane Irma, more than six million Florida residents evacuated before the Category 4 storm made landfall. Winds gusted to 142 mph near Naples, and 73 percent of the state lost electricity. It was the most expensive storm the state had ever seen with damages topping $50 billion.
In subsequent years, Florida was battered by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Dorian. Now, with the 2020 hurricane season approaching, NOAA is predicting a season that’s worse than average. This is compounded by dealing with the upcoming hurricane season during the coronavirus pandemic.
Now is the time to get proactive about hurricane preparations. More than stocking up on bottled water and learning your evacuation route, you can take steps to protect your home. The average insurance claim for a hurricane can be $115,000, and the preparations you do now can help you minimize damage.
Learn the four ways to prepare your home for a hurricane.
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1. Prepare for Hurricane Flooding
During Hurricane Matthew, the flooding in Florida didn’t just turn streets into rivers. The waters were so high in the panhandle that houses were submerged to their roofs.
Flooding is a problem with any hurricane, and it causes a lot of damage. FEMA reports that just one inch of water in an average home can result in $25,000 worth of repairs. A home with one foot of water could see a loss of more than $72,000.
When it comes to flooding, the adage is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on mitigation saves $6 in repairs.
According to FEMA, many flood insurance policies will also reimburse homeowners up to $1,000 for flood mitigation efforts, creating a clear financial incentive to reduce flood risk. Plus, flood preparations can lower your flood insurance premiums, with some homeowners seeing a 15 percent reduction for the same level of protection.
When preparing for a hurricane, one of the first steps is to waterproof your crawl space, as well as waterproof your foundation. Because crawl spaces and the rare Florida basements are at ground level or below ground, waterproofing can have a significant effect on how well your home can withstand rising floodwaters.
Following an initial assessment of your home’s needs, professionals commonly recommend repairing foundation cracks where water could enter your home, adding drainage systems, and adding encapsulation or sealant.
Secondly, a major aspect of hurricane preparedness is installing a sump pump. If your crawl space or basement starts to flood, a sump pump will automatically start pumping the water out. Speed is important because the faster you’re able to get water out of your house, the less flood damage you could experience.
After making these ground-level preparations far in advance, that only leaves your entryways to secure before the storm hits. Create a sandbag perimeter to prevent water from entering your home at the bottom of a doorway. Even if water still seeps through the barrier, your sump pump will be able to quickly deal with it.
2. Prepare for Heavy Rain
Yard maintenance can help your property and your neighborhood to deal with the heavy rains of a hurricane.
Hurricane preparations should include cleaning your drains and gutters. If you’re dealing with a high volume of precipitation, you want to make sure all of that water has somewhere to go. Also, make sure you have gutter downspouts installed so that rain is directed away from your home. This can help mitigate ground saturation around your foundation that can cause water to seep into your basement.
Removing yard debris before a hurricane can help you reduce the chances that you’ll have a drainage clog in the midst of the storm. More than just leaves and sticks, consider how heavy rains could cause tree limbs to fall and damage your roof.
Before a hurricane, it’s also a good idea to have tarps ready. If something does happen where you have rainwater coming inside, a tarp can help you manage the worst of the water damage.
3. Prepare for Hurricane Winds
When winds top 100 MPH, you’ll start to see extensive property damage, but there are a few things you can do to prepare.
Start with the most breakable part of your structure – the windows. Covering your windows can help you avoid damage to the interior of your home if the glass breaks. Creating a protective shield can also help you avoid a wind tunnel effect where a broken window can cause the structure to blow apart. A sheet of 5/8” plywood is a strong barrier, but there are permanent options such as installing storm shutters.
In addition to windows, garage doors are a weak point against the wind. And if your garage door fails, the wind will likely cause your roof to fail. Secure your home with a wind-load garage door or by retrofitting your existing garage door with a brace or hurricane shutter.
You can also prepare for a hurricane by reinforcing your roof. Hurricane straps and ties can secure the joints and improve your home’s ability to withstand hurricane winds. One of the strongest solutions is to anchor the roof, walls, and foundation together to create a continuous load path.
4. Prepare for Hurricane Outages
Power outages can cover a wide area, but the worst damage occurs when you lose power while you have flood water to manage.
To protect against these circumstances, it’s important to have a backup battery for your sump pump. During a flood, it can take days or weeks to activate power lines or before it’s safe to use a generator. However, sump pump batteries are designed to function safely in wet conditions. Even while the lights are out, you could be pumping thousands of gallons of water out of your crawl space.
Also, prepare the rest of your household for power outages. This includes having ice for perishable food and having a generator to run appliances after the immediate water threat has passed.
Find out how Florida Foundation Authority can help you be prepared for a hurricane with trusted drainage, foundation, and crawl space repair solutions.