When preparing for a hurricane, we’re reminded that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Across impact zones in Alabama and Tennessee, we’ve seen firsthand how homeowner preparations have helped protect property, minimize damage, and speed up recovery. Hurricane preparedness can also be a better financial decision. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on flood mitigation saves $6 in repairs.
Researchers are predicting an above-average hurricane season in 2021. With the average insurance claim for hurricane damage at $115,000, many homeowners are using these months of calm before the storm to strengthen their home’s resilience against hurricanes.
Below, we’ll break down the ways you can prepare your Alabama or Tennessee home for hurricane season.
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1. Prepare for Hurricane Flooding
Hurricanes frequently result in severe flooding. Streets can become waterways, and homes can be surrounded by water.
Although Alabama doesn’t have a large coastline, it’s vulnerable to storm surges. The NOAA Storm Surge Hazard Map shows that during a Category 5 hurricane, the Mobile area will be inundated with water. Flooding that’s more than nine feet deep could reach from the Mobile Bay to more than 40 miles inland.
Even small amounts of flooding can cause significant damage. According to FEMA, just one inch of water in an average-sized home can lead to $25,000 in damage. At a foot of water, flood damage could total more than $72,000.
Flood mitigation is an important way to protect your home from damage. An analysis of how Hurricane Matthew impacted Florida found that flood mitigation improvements had a 422 percent return on investment (ROI). Not only will it help you prevent expensive flood damage, but many insurance companies give financial incentives for flood preparations. Homeowners could see insurance premiums reduced by 15 percent, and flood insurance companies may contribute up to $1,000 toward the installation of flood mitigation systems like sump pumps.
Here’s what you can do to protect your home from flood damage:
- Add Basement Waterproofing or Crawl Space Encapsulation. These comprehensive systems help keep water out of your home through a combination of drainage, moisture barriers, and water management solutions. Waterproofing experts can assess your home’s water risks and install customized solutions that give you the best protection.
- Install a Sump Pump. How quickly you respond to a flood can determine how much damage your home will have. A sump pump is an essential part of hurricane preparation because it can automatically start removing water as soon as it’s detected, and systems with battery backups will keep pumping even if the power goes out.
- Protect Doors with Sandbags. The waterproofing preparations you made in advance will only leave you with your entryways to secure before the storm hits. A sandbag perimeter can prevent water from entering your home at the base of your doorways. Even if some water does seep in through the barrier, your sump pump will quickly deal with it.
2. Prepare for Heavy Rain
To manage heavy rainfall, you’ll need systems to control and direct the flow of water through your property and away from your home. When calculating the importance of gutters and drainage, we found that just one inch of rain on an average-size home totals nearly 1,000 gallons of water. If that water ended up in your home or basement, you’d have a big problem. Do these three things to prepare for heavy rains during a hurricane.
- Maintain Gutters and Drainage. To prepare for heavy rains, clean debris from gutters, downspouts, and drains. Maintain or upgrade any drainage systems to keep water directed away from your foundation. Also, check the storm drains in your neighborhood, and you may need to contact local officials for maintenance before a storm.
- Clean Up Your Yard. Your drainage systems could easily clog from accumulated leaves and sticks, leading to significant water buildup. Clean up any yard debris, and also consider any tree limbs that could fall during heavy rains.
- Have Tarps Ready. During a hurricane, if something happens where the rain starts coming into your home, tarps can help you quickly respond to the water threat and minimize damage.
3. Prepare for Hurricane Winds
Hurricane winds can reach as far inland as Huntsville and Nashville. The extreme winds during a hurricane can lead to extensive damage, including falling trees cracking into roofs, unsecured objects becoming projectiles, and the ability of wind gusts to blow apart the structure of your home. Here’s what you can do to prepare for hurricane wind damage.
- Cover Your Windows. Windows and skylights are the most breakable part of your structure. If these surfaces fail, the interior of your home will be exposed to the elements, damaging your belongings. A broken window can also create a wind tunnel effect inside your home causing a total structural failure. Covering windows with a sheet of 5/8″ plywood is a common tactic for protecting windows, and you can also install permanent storm shutters.
- Secure Doors and Garage. Your doors are another weak point for wind gusts. Ensure all doors can be secured and upgrade your garage door to be able to withstand wind load. You can do this by retrofitting your existing garage door with a brace or adding a hurricane shutter.
- Reinforce Your Roof with Straps and Ties. One of the strongest ways to protect your home from wind damage is to install a system of straps and ties that anchor together with the roof, walls, and foundation to create a continuous load path.
4. Prepare for Hurricane Outages
After a hurricane, power outages can last for weeks. This can hamper your recovery efforts and leave you struggling with household basics. Planning ahead for outages can help you prepare for the aftermath of a hurricane.
- Add a Backup Battery for your Sump Pump. It’s essential to keep your sump pump running even when the power goes off. Backup batteries for sump pumps are designed to work safely in wet conditions, and the integrated system means you won’t have to worry about hookups or connections.
- Prepare Your Household with a Generator and Bags of Ice. Adding a backup generator to your home can help you power other home appliances, including a refrigerator, well pump, lights, and a Wi-Fi router. Also, stock up on ice to protect your perishables, batteries for flashlights, a first aid kit, a backup cell phone battery, and other essentials that are helpful during power outages.
A free inspection from AFS can help guide you through the most trusted solutions for hurricane preparedness including basement waterproofing, foundation repair, and crawl space encapsulation.