RICHMOND, Va. -- Taking steps now can help prevent future devastation similar to that caused by Hurricane Isabel, according to officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).
"The rebuilding and repairing phase of any disaster is an ideal time to consider effective ways to limit damage from these forces of nature," said Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer. "We call it hazard mitigation," Botta said.
FEMA's Mitigation Specialist, Noah Thacker refers to hurricane force winds that can damage windows and doors - with catastrophic results. "If the roof is not properly built or 'tied-down,' any upsurge of wind blowing into the home through broken windows and doors puts enormous pressure on the underside of a roof," he said. "It can destroy your roof and cause even greater interior damage,"
Some mitigation work can be done by competent homeowners, while other recommended steps probably require professional contractors, according to FEMA's Mitigation specialists. Safety is always the first concern if there are any changes to electrical wiring.
"It's important to talk with local building officials before you begin. They can provide useful information on local standards and building codes," said VDEM Mitigation Officer Michelle Pope.
Some suggestions to consider:
Install high wind connectors:
These connectors are either galvanized steel or stainless steel (a coastal area consideration). The "continuous load path" method of tying down a home's roof to its foundation is an effective means of resisting damage to structures subjected to high winds. Connectors engage roof rafters, attic joists and supporting stud walls, creating a stronger unit. Connectors also engage intermediate floors to the stud walls, above and below each level. Finally, connectors tie together the bottom stud wall and bottom plate to the foundation.
High wind connectors may be difficult for homeowners to install, so you may want a professional to do the work. Also, you may want to check with your local government's building officials to see if your community has special permits or requirements.
Install storm shutters:
Storm shutters can be secured over windows, skylights and other glass-covered openings, helping your home withstand hurricane force winds as well as providing safeguards against flying glass. Pre-manufactured storm shutters are also available, however, it is not difficult to make your own. For more information on shutters, contact your local building supply retailer. If you install pre-made shutters, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Again, check with local officials about any permit requirements. For more information and plans on building plywood shutters, call FEMA at 1-800-480-2520 and ask for FEMA Publication 247 - Against the Wind, Protecting Your Home From Hurricane Wind Damage.
Check your doublewide garage doors:
Doublewide (two-car) garage doors can wobble, pull off their tracks and collapse in especially high winds. Check with your local government's building officials and ask about any code requirements for garage doors. Single framing on each garage doorway is recommended, if you are rebuilding or want to retrofit a multi-vehicle garage. Retrofit kits are also available. Check with your local building supply retailer. Also, check the ceiling track on your garage door and make sure that it is either anchored to the 2x4s inside the wall with heavy wood bolts, or properly attached to masonry with expansion bolts.