Hanna, Ike and Josephine are heading to the U.S. after Gustav's recent rampage. (See details below.) Please check out the sections marked Generators and Hurricane Preparedness if you're in their path. The other sections offer longer-term solutions to strengthening your home against future storms, (and building a new home in a hurricane-prone area).
Track these storms at:
INITIAL THOUGHTS (SATURDAY, PRE-GUSTAV)
As I write this, another major hurricane is heading toward Katrina-battered New Orleans. I hope to G-d the levees hold this time, and no one else is killed or injured by Gustav.
I remember the fear I felt as Hurricane Charley bore down on Florida’s southwest coast in 2004. I don’t wish that on anyone – anywhere! Two years later, I was doing design work on a two-family home, (shown in the photo above), flattened by that storm when it took a last-minute turn and pummeled the coastline two hours south of us. Charley, Katrina and now Gustav remind us of wind and water’s power to destroy the homes we love. Here are a few strategies and weapons in the war against nature.
NEW CONSTRUCTION RESOURCE
If you’re planning on building a home, consider reinforced concrete construction. This building method is extremely energy-efficient, as well as being able to withstand wind and earthquake forces. An excellent book on the topic is PreFabulous by Sheri Koones. (You can purchase it through the Amazon Gold section in the lower right corner of this blog's home page.) In its well-illustrated pages, Koones not only shows how great prefab homes can look, but describes the different options, including concrete construction, in depth, with a resource section at the end. The National Association of Home Builders’ Concrete Home Building Council is another great resource for this building method.
If you’re planning to remodel your home, consider impact-resistant glass for doors and windows. According to one of my sources, Roger Hutson, millworks trainer for The Home Depot in Tampa, Fl., “Windows are now available to withstand the wind pressures of hurricane force winds. With the addition of IMPACT glass, the windows will protect the home from flying debris without the added time and effort needed to install shutters.” New windows can also improve your home’s energy-efficiency, if you opt for those with low-emissivity (or low-e) glass.
Garage doors, especially those extra-wide double doors and older doors, are another vulnerable point in a storm. Home Depot, (and likely other sources, as well), carry new hurricane-approved garage door systems that are definitely worth considering. (A new garage door can add to your home's curb appeal, as well.)
Entry doors – especially those handsome double door sets – are also vulnerability points. There are new door systems on the market that are Florida-approved and worth considering for your home’s safety. “Doors older than five years may not be designed or installed to withstand the forces of a hurricane,” Hutson says.
An interim step could be changing your in-swing double door set to out-swing, as this gives an extra measure of protection in a major wind storm, according to the millworks trainer.
Many hurricane zone residents purchase generators to power their homes or businesses during an electrical outage. Here is some safety advice on their use from the American Red Cross. If you’re the owner of a generator, or considering purchasing one, please read this short page of information first! Your family’s or employees’ lives may depend on it!
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Smarter folks who have lived here longer than I have put together top-notch hurricane preparedness lists. Here’s a short one for your consideration from our local newspaper, The Tampa Tribune:
The Trib also covered some intriguing new emergency “gadgets” you might want to consider:
One of the most important ways you can prepare yourself and your family is by having an Emergency Plan prepared. The Red Cross has put together a Podcast on how to do this:
If Hurricane Gustav creates the level of damage that Charley, Katrina, Wilma and so many other storms before it have, please be generous. The American Red Cross will put your donations to great use, helping our fellow Americans survive the painful aftermath, as it always does.
I was a volunteer in Los Angeles after the ’92 riots and ’94 earthquake and saw first-hand the great work this organization does.
New Orleans – the city in which I said, “I do,” seven years ago – you’re in my heart and prayers today.