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.
Now, with the 2021 hurricane season approaching, researchers are predicting above-average hurricane activity this year citing subtropical ocean temperatures and trends for El Niño or La Niña.
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. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on flood mitigation saves $6 in repairs. Not only can hurricane preparations help save you money, but they can also help you minimize the devastation of hurricane damage and the disruption it can cause your household.
Use these hurricane preparedness tips to protect against the four ways that hurricanes can damage your home.
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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 may be inevitable in a hurricane, and it’s very damaging to your home. 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.
Flood mitigation makes good financial sense. Not only can it help you avoid damage, but flood insurance companies may lower your insurance premiums by 15 percent for the same level of protection. Flood insurance companies may even contribute $1,000 toward installing flood mitigation systems like sump pumps.
You can make your home more resilient to flood damage by doing the following:
- Install a sump pump: A key step in hurricane preparedness is installing a sump pump. If your crawl space 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.
- Add waterproofing: 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, installing drainage systems, and adding encapsulation.
- Protect doors with sandbags: After making ground-level preparations far in advance, that only leaves your entryways to secure. Before a storm hits, create a sandbag perimeter to prevent water from entering your home at the bottom of doorways. Even if water still seeps through the barrier, your sump pump will be able to quickly deal with it.
2. Prepare for Heavy Rain
During Hurricane Matthew, Orlando had more than eight inches of rain. For an average-sized house, that’s nearly 8,000 gallons of water falling on the roof. If you don’t have the water systems in place to manage rainfall, all of that water could end up in your home. Here’s what you can do to prepare for hurricane rains.
- Clean 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 reduce ground saturation around your foundation that can cause water to seep into your crawl space.
- Remove yard debris: Cleaning up your yard before a hurricane can help you reduce the chances that you’ll have a clogged drain during the storm. Remove leaves and sticks, and look at the trees on your property to consider any risky limbs that could fall and damage your roof.
- 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.
- Cover your windows: Start with the most breakable part of your structure–the windows. A sheet of 5/8” plywood is a strong barrier, but there are permanent options such as installing storm shutters. A broken window can cause more damage than you may realize. If it breaks during hurricane-force winds, a wind tunnel effect could cause the structure of your home to blow apart.
- Protect your doors: In addition to windows, garage doors are a weak point against the wind. If your garage door fails, the wind will likely cause your roof to fail. Secure your home with a wind-load garage door, or you can retrofit your existing garage door with a brace or hurricane shutter.
- Reinforce your roof: 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 and last for a long time. During hurricane recovery, speed is key to minimizing water damage. Here’s how you can prepare.
- Add a backup battery to your sump pump: After a hurricane, it can take days or weeks to activate power lines or before it’s safe to use a generator. During this time, your home’s structure is weakening from water damage and mold is starting to grow. Even while the lights are out, you could be safely pumping thousands of gallons of water out of your crawl space.
- Get a generator and bags of ice: Having a generator can help you run power tools and appliances after the immediate water threat has passed. Also, keep bottled water on hand, and bags of ice can help preserve perishable food.
Find out how Florida Foundation Authority can help you be prepared for a hurricane with trusted drainage, foundation, and crawl space repair solutions.