Lessons Learned from Hurricane Ian

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s Gulf Coast on September 29th, bringing with it wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. A storm surge as high as 12-13.25 ft. raised water levels in the Cape Coral and Fort Myers areas. Cities received between 10 and 20 inches of rainfall, producing flash floods across the Florida Coast. At the end of the storm, around 5,000 homes were destroyed and over 30,000 others were damaged. According to Britannica, the estimated total for insured property losses in the Southeast U.S. is between $50 billion and $75 billion. Join West Point Insurance Services as we deep dive into the lessons we can learn from this powerful storm.

Building to Survive A Hurricane

One of the biggest lessons we can learn from Hurricane Ian is rooted in the foundation of home building. Quite literally, a well-built home is the most effective way to protect against hurricane damage. Homes that follow Florida’s building codes have a better chance of surviving massive storm surges. Here are a couple that stood out:

  • Gable End Bracing – this web of end frames throughout the house helps your roof bear loads when the wind is particularly strong. They should be spaced no greater than 24 inches apart. The closer together the bracing, the better the roof will hold.
  • Roof to Wall Connection – this is another effective way to limit hurricane wind damage in Florida. Hurricane straps and adequate roof decking can withstand high winds and reduce insurance costs.
Building to Survive a Hurricane

Roof Materials vs. Hurricane Damage

There are various different types of materials used to roof houses across the U.S. Houses in Florida typically have either clay tile, metal roofing, or asphalt shingles. Hurricane Ian taught us a few lessons about how these roofing materials will take high winds: 

  • Clay tile is heavy, so the risk of the tiles blowing off the roof and damaging surrounding property is low. However, the tiles could potentially start to slide, causing a buildup in gutters and potential damage to anything below.
  • Metal roofing is often more durable, but the damage can be more extreme. Some homes in Florida lost entire sections of roofing due to Hurricane Ian.
  • Asphalt shingles are less likely to cause damage to the house and surroundings than both of these roofing materials. High winds may result in a few lost shingles, but they are easy to repair.
Roof Materials vs. Hurricane Damage

Keep in mind that the roof is only as sturdy as its construction. This is where Florida’s hurricane-centric building codes come back into play.

Newer Homes vs. Older Homes

With time comes growth. It’s no surprise that homes built more recently are better suited for hurricanes, because the builders have the experience and knowledge to build them better. Many newer homes in Florida are built with concrete and placed on high foundations to protect against water damage. It’s not uncommon to see a home with a two car garage beneath the main living area. This garage area serves as a buffer that takes any potential water damage before it can reach the house itself. Homes built directly on the ground are more susceptible to water damage.

New Homes vs. Older Homes After A Hurricane

Manufactured Homes

Mobile and manufactured homes are not built to withstand the high-pressure winds associated with hurricanes. Often lacking the proper foundation, high winds can lift manufactured homes straight off the ground, often resulting in major damages.

Benefits of Upgrading the Impact Resistance

There are a few different parts of the home that can be made impact-resistant. If your home is destroyed during a tropical storm, it can be difficult to rebuild the home to code. This is the time to start thinking about ways to upgrade the home to make it more hurricane resistant. Impact-resistant windows are a must-have for houses on a coast that is subject to hurricanes, but even a house with window protection could suffer damages in other areas. An impact-resistant garage door could further protect your home from the high winds and flooding related to a hurricane.

Image Source: AON PLC.

Resilience is Key

In this blog, we touched on hurricane damage as a whole. Keep an eye out for our next blog, where we will talk in-depth about flood damage as it relates to insurance.

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