By Leo Cannyn, PMP, P.E., ENV SP
Principal Project Manager
Beryl Engineering & Inspection
As a Florida resident, the weather forecast becomes essential in your house during summer and fall. Most can even say they have a favorite meteorologist they follow exclusively. Hurricanes will most likely cause serious damage and devastation to our state between June 1 and November 20. Preparing for Florida’s hurricane season should be top priority.
Just last fall, Hurricane Ian’s high winds and storm surge destroyed parts of southwest Florida’s coastal communities before moving inland with pounding rain and widespread flooding. As reported by WUSF Public Media, a recent report from NOAA stated Hurricane Ian ranks as the third most-costly U.S. hurricane on record. Damage was estimated to be $113 billion and 152 deaths.
As a homeowner, there are precautions you can take. Some can be implanted quickly, and some should be considered as a longer-term project. However, all are extremely beneficial to securing your home during the unimaginable.
Reinforce Your Roof
Even winds of under 50 miles per hour can damage your roof. Traditional three-tab asphalt shingles might not be enough. For added protection, consider thicker architectural shingles that can last 20 to 30 years. Additionally, steel hurricane clips make a big impact. They can significantly increase the strength of the connection between your roof and the house. Invest in a four-point inspection to determine ways you could safeguard your roof and save on insurance premiums.
Install Storm Shutters
Windows are everywhere in most homes and can be vulnerable when it comes to storm damage. Of course, you want to protect against the impact of high winds from the hurricane, but what about tree limbs and other projectiles traveling up to 150 miles per hour. Hurricane shutters cost an average of $3,500 to install, a much more cost–effective solution over impact windows. As an added benefit — protecting windows will also save you on insurance premiums.
Reinforce the Weak Link
Garage doors are the largest opening to your home, making them one of the most vulnerable areas. If your garage door is not impact-rated, high winds will likely remove it, causing pressure to build in the garage and potentially lift the roof. If you don’t have the budget to replace your door, you could purchase removable galvanized steel and aluminum panels. These can temporarily be installed on the door when a hurricane is approaching.
Last Minute Preparation
- Purchase your disaster supplies: working flashlights, batteries, radio, first aid kit, and enough water for three days. If your budget allows, a generator is a great option to keep things running once the power goes out.
- Close your interior room doors and make sure your garage door is shut.
- Secure loose items outside.
- Create a “go bag” with necessary essentials and important legal documents, copies of insurance, birth certificates, etc.
- Create a home inventory list. A video of your home makes it easy to remember items if needed.
After the Storm, Assess any Damage
You prepared for Florida’s hurricane season, and your property was built to withstand rainfall, winds, and other natural forces that come with tropical storms and hurricanes. But sometimes, the force is just too much, no matter how much preparation you put into securing your home. When this happens, you will likely need to hire someone to assess the storm damage.
When you file an insurance claim, your provider will send an adjuster to determine the damage and what will be covered under the insurance policy you purchased. This report will be conducted based on the experience of the adjuster and may not be 100 percent complete. However, a licensed structural engineer will provide a concise and objective analysis of the issue and recommend the most effective and cost-efficient repairs.
Living in Florida with the risk of hurricanes is part of life. But if your home ends up being in the path of a damaging storm, a little preparation can go a long way to protecting your property, and the ones you love.