BALTIMORE, MD. January 21, 2009 - "Structural preparedness is the key to minimizing loss during a storm," said clean-up and restoration expert Frank Nemshick, president of ACCORD Restoration.
To begin preparations, a property owner must know the ins and outs of his or her insurance policy, Nemshick explained, which includes having the property regularly appraised.
Of note is the fact that homeowners' insurance does not cover flooding. It is important to purchase flood insurance (if available) and/or purchase an additional rider of coverage for sewer/drain backup and/or sump pump malfunction. Because a new policy would not take effect for 30 days, it must be purchased long before a storm is forecast.
Securing and Preparing
High winds from a storm or hurricane can compromise many structures in a building. Roofs are designed to transfer the force of high winds down to the foundation. If the roof sheathing is not fastened to the rafters or trusses, it can fail to perform as designed. Prior to high winds it is important to check the structural integrity of the roof.
Hurricane straps - galvanized metal braces that keep the roof securely fastened to the walls of a home or building - are advised for properties in areas with a high hurricane risk. Installing braces should be done by a licensed professional.
A property's windows and doors must be properly braced to withstand the high winds of hurricanes. Storm shutters can protect exposed windows, skylights, doors and other glass surfaces and are available in steel, wood or aluminum. If storm shutters are not available, plywood may be used.
Reinforcing bolts to secure doors to the top and bottom frame will ensure that they will be able to withstand a powerful storm.
Beyond wind damage, flooding is often associated with strong storms. Prior to storms, property owners are advised to check gutters and downspouts to be sure that they are clear of debris. Also check that basement sump pumps are fully functional. In low-lying areas or those adjacent to a body of water, having sandbags on hand may help minimize the entry of standing water under doors and ground level windows.
To prevent or minimize damage to a property's electrical system, the main panel board, electrical outlets, switches, as well as electrically run units, such as washers, dryers, furnaces and water heaters, should be located at least 12 inches above the flood elevation for the area.
Before any structural changes are made to a property, Nemshick advises owners to check local building codes and assess the degree of storm protection that makes financial sense. The local Red Cross and Emergency Management Agency are great resources for learning the flood elevation and hurricane risk of an area.