Hurricane season officially started 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) predicts a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or more, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes. Hurricanes, by definition, have winds of 74 mph or more. NOAA forecasts say they can include three to six major hurricanes, which are considered Category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or more.
Obviously, if you live in the southeastern United States or anywhere along the Atlantic coast, hurricane preparation is part of your home maintenance schedule. The time to prepare, says Groundworks.com sales manager Tim Tracy, is not when a hurricane is approaching.
“Before a storm approaches, check the foundation drainage system. In addition to gutters and downspouts, make sure your basement or crawl space is sealed with the necessary drainage systems. A sump pump with battery backup is essential during power outages. Maintain your roof. Repair loose or missing shingles. Any damage here can allow rain to enter your attic, causing a lot of damage to your home. Keep your trees pruned.
During a hurricane, water typically causes more damage than wind, and a single inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage, according to FEMA.
“Review your insurance policy,” adds Tracy. “Floods caused by storms are generally not covered by home insurance. Check with your insurance agent or the National Flood Insurance Program for available coverage.
An essential part of preparing for storms, he says, is having a plan.
“It’s important to have a family emergency plan, including practicing the steps you’ll take if you’re hit by a hurricane. Set up an emergency meeting place if you are not in the same place when the storm hits.
Once a hurricane makes landfall and begins to produce heavy rain and wind, some of the conditions that cause damage include falling siding or roofing, windows that are not properly secured, gutters that are not cleaned. Clogged drains can make flooding worse. If the water has nowhere to escape, it will pool and rise.
“Make sure the drains are clean and your sump pump is working; this will ensure that intruding water also has a place to escape,” says Tracy. “Make sure you have an extra sump pump or backup power ready. Plus, contact information for home service professionals to call in the event of major damage to your property.
“If you evacuate, take these extra steps to protect your home: cover windows and secure doors. If a window breaks, it will not only let in the rain, but the wind. Once the wind finds an opening, it can put a lot of pressure on the walls and on the roof. Put plywood on your windows or hurricane shutters. Add a windproof garage door. Keep gutters clear. Gutters and downspouts need to be cleaned and repaired. They channel rain off your roof and away from the foundation. Any buildup around the foundation, especially if the ground is already saturated, can cause basement or crawl space flooding. Move valuables to higher places, both outdoors and indoors.
After the hurricane passes, Tracy says, homeowners should complete this inspection checklist to assess damage:
“If you return to a home that looks unsafe, do not enter. If the home looks structurally sound, the checklist of items to inspect starts from zero. Check your basement or crawl space for any intrusions water or any damage. Clean up the remaining water. Take it out as soon as possible to ensure that no further damage occurs.
“Once the basement is cleared, check interior walls for cracks and separation, windows to make sure they haven’t been knocked over, siding that may have been moved, and (with proper precautions ) the roof inside the attic and outside the house.
“If you suspect a problem, call a trusted home service professional to inspect the damage. A problem will never be cheaper to solve than it is today.
To bolster her arguments about preparedness, Tracy cites a statistic from the National Institute of Building Science.
“Every dollar spent on disaster mitigation saves six dollars in repairs.”