What Are the Top Concerns About Hurricanes During COVID-19?

From Wilmington to Winston-Salem, NC, homeowners are facing a double threat of hurricane season during COVID-19. This has created competing concerns about health, safety, property damage, and flooding.

The team at Tar Heel Basement Systems wanted to learn more about how residents in North Carolina are protecting their homes and their biggest fears during the 2020 hurricane season.

We surveyed more than 1,000 homeowners in hurricane-prone states to find out the top concerns about hurricane season during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results reveal that property damage is the biggest worry for many homeowners.

COVID-19 hurricane season North Carolina

What Are Your Main Concerns About Hurricane Season During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

  • Hurricane damage: 40%
  • Power loss: 28%
  • Shelters with lots of people: 21%
  • Injuries that require hospitalization: 11%

How Is Hurricane Season Different During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The combination of COVID-19 and a natural disaster create additional strain on communities. In many cases, resources are stretched thin, and the health risks and protocols make it more difficult to support hurricane response.

All told, the 2020 hurricane season could have a slower recovery, bigger financial impact, and an increased toll on health.

A report from Columbia University modeled how quickly COVID-19 would spread under different hurricane evacuation scenarios. With a storm like Hurricane Irma where 2.3 million residents evacuated in Florida, the result would be an additional 61,000 new cases of COVID-19.

Hurricane Damage Is the Top Concern in 2020

With 40% of survey responses citing hurricane damage as their top concern, we know that a lot of people are worried about their personal property.

In a typical year, concerns about property damage are also pervasive. Homeowners have to contend with excessive rain, storm surge, flooding, and wind damage. However, during 2020, these concerns about property damage are heightened.

Many communities are preparing for a slower hurricane response because of the challenges of the pandemic. For example, there could be fewer volunteers through the American Red Cross, and reduced staffing could slow down building inspections and insurance assessments.

Homeowners could also face undue financial challenges if personal circumstances were already strained. Even with insurance coverage and FEMA grants, the expenses can add up for deductibles, repairs, and replacing personal belongings.

There’s also the issue of finding temporary housing during hurricane recovery. There could be few available options since the tightened real estate market during COVID-19. Plus, staying with friends or relatives can increase the household’s risk threshold, especially for the elderly.

Hurricane-Prone Communities Are Also Concerned About Power Loss

The second biggest concern from a total of 28% of respondents is power loss.

In 2020, electricity issues could be worse because power restoration could be delayed. Duke Energy released a statement for their North Carolina customers acknowledging the potential impact of disruptions while discussing their hurricane strategy. In other states, power companies have redesigned their response strategy, but the steps taken to improve health and safety could also slow down restoration.

The consequence of a slower power recovery is that there could be more water damage. In a flooded home, speed is crucial to limiting the amount of damage, and many homeowners won’t be able to deal with a flooded basement or crawl space until electricity is restored. Mold starts to grow quickly. As the water sits, the damage will spread, and the wet structure will start to weaken.

An important exception to this is homeowners who planned ahead by installing a sump pump with battery backup. These homeowners will be able to quickly and safely pump water out of their homes before power is restored. This can speed up the recovery process and reduce home damage.

Fears of Crowded Hurricane Shelters During COVID-19

Being around a large group of people in a small space is what concerns 21% of survey respondents. As communities continue to battle COVID-19, a crowded hurricane shelter can quickly increase the rate of virus transmission. These shelters are the dangerous combination of large groups of people spending a long period of time together in an indoor location.

Many leaders and hurricane response teams are calling on residents to develop an alternate hurricane evacuation plan that includes staying with family, friends, or renting personal lodgings. If more people find individual accommodations, the capacity at group shelters will be reduced, improving the safety for everyone.

Concerns About Hurricane-Related Injuries During COVID-19

About 11 percent of survey respondents say they’re concerned about hurricane-related injuries that require a visit to the hospital.

The focus on health care during COVID-19 has prompted concerns about safety and adjustments to new protocols. Medical centers could require additional screenings or precautions like face masks. There could also be visitor restrictions in place that limits access to those who are in a medical facility.

To prepare for and prevent hurricane-related injuries, many homeowners are updating their first aid kits with COVID-19 gear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends first aid kits include disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol to improve safety during the aftermath of a hurricane.

How can you prepare your home to withstand a hurricane during COVID-19 and beyond? The basement waterproofing experts at Tar Heel Basement Systems can help. A free inspection and repair estimate is the first step to protecting your home from hurricane damage.