When Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, the big, slow-moving storm dropped a shocking 35 inches of rain. Flooding reached as far inland as Raleigh, damaging more than 75,000 homes throughout North Carolina.
Last year was a record-breaking hurricane season with named storms reaching into the Greek alphabet and damages topping $51 billion. Researchers at North Carolina State University are predicting another active hurricane season in 2021. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. With the average insurance claim for hurricane damage at $115,000, the hurricane preparations you do now can help your home survive the storms. With a difficult season ahead, now is the time to be proactive. Learn the four ways to prepare your North Carolina home for hurricane season.
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1. Prepare for Hurricane Flooding
We’ve all seen the photos where streets become waterways. Flood risk is very high during a hurricane. Water management systems can reach their max capacity because of the combination of heavy rains, storm surge, ocean tides, and overflowing rivers.
Flooding causes a lot of damage and is very expensive. FEMA reports that just one inch of water in an average home can cost more than $25,000 in damage. 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. Plus, flood mitigation may also lower your insurance premiums, with some homeowners seeing a 15 percent reduction. Many flood insurance policies will also reimburse homeowners up to $1,000 for flood mitigation efforts.
There is a clear financial incentive to reducing flood risk, but what should you do?
- Add Basement or Crawl Space Waterproofing
When preparing for a hurricane, one of the first steps is to waterproof your basement or crawl space. Because these areas of your home are at ground level or below ground, the work you do to add waterproofing can have a significant effect on how well your home can withstand rising floodwaters.
Following an initial assessment of your basement or crawl space needs, professionals commonly recommend repairing foundation cracks where water could enter your home, adding interior drainage systems, and installing basement wall systems or crawl space encapsulation.
- Install a Sump Pump
A major aspect of hurricane preparedness is installing a sump pump. These automated devices can help you quickly manage water problems, pumping out thousands of gallons of water. The faster you’re able to get water out of your house, the less flood damage you could experience. Not only can sump pumps help you better manage a flood, but they also give you the peace of mind of knowing you’re prepared.
- Protect Doors with Sandbags
After making these ground-level preparations well before a hurricane, 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. Start with a layer of plastic sheeting, and build your sandbag wall against it. Even if you still get water seeping in through your sandbag barrier, your sump pump will be able to quickly deal with it.
2. Prepare for Heavy Rain
Throughout the hurricane season, regular yard maintenance will position you to better withstand the storm. During Tropical Storm Eta in 2020, Winston-Salem had more than five inches of rain in less than two days. A shocked resident said, “I have a puddle in my living room.” Here’s what you can do to prepare.
- Maintain Gutters and Drainage
Start rain preparations by clearing your gutters, downspouts, and drains . If you’re facing a foot of rain, that’s nearly 12,000 gallons of water that will be falling on your roof. Clean up yard debris so that gutters function smoothly and rain is directed away from your foundation. You may also need to contact local officials to maintain storm drains in your neighborhood.
- Clean Up Your Yard
Removing yard debris before a hurricane can help you reduce the chances that you’ll have a drainage clog during the storm. More than just leaves and sticks, consider how heavy rains could take down tree limbs. Addressing large problems beforehand can help you avoid major roof damage during a storm.
- Have Tarps Ready
Tarps can help you manage hurricane rains. If something does happen where you have rainwater coming inside, a tarp can help you to manage or mitigate the worst of the water damage.
3. Prepare for Hurricane Winds
The long coastline of North Carolina makes the state especially susceptible to hurricane damage. When Hurricane Isaias made landfall in 2020, the shore near Wrightsville Beach had gusts between 85 and 99 mph, causing extensive damage.
- Cover Your Windows
To prepare for high winds, start with the most breakable part of your structure—the windows. Not only can a broken window result in significant damage to your belongings, but it can also cause a tunnel effect where the wind could blow your home apart. A sheet of 5/8” plywood is a common tactic, but there are also options such as permanently installed storm shutters.
- Secure Doors and Garage
Doors are a weak point in your home and can be vulnerable to wind gusts. 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.
- Reinforce Your Roof with Straps and Ties
Hurricane straps and ties can secure the joints and improve the stability of your structure. One of the strongest protections against wind damage is to use a system that anchors the roof, walls, and foundation together to create a continuous load path.
4. Prepare for Hurricane Outages
Often, the area of power outages extends far beyond the parts of the state that have the worst flood damage. However, the worst effects can occur when there’s the combined impact of flooding during a power outage. To protect against these circumstances, it’s important to have backup power for your water management system.
- Add a Backup Battery for your Sump Pump
After installing a backup battery, your sump pump can keep pumping water out of your home even when the lights go out. Many sump pumps have an integrated battery so you won’t have to worry about hook-ups or connections. During a flood, it can be a while before it’s safe to activate power lines or use a generator, but sump pump batteries are designed to function safely in wet conditions.
- Prepare Your Household with a Generator and Bags of Ice
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 Tar Heel Basement Systems can help you be prepared for a hurricane with trusted basement waterproofing, foundation repair, and crawl space repair solutions.