A Tale of Two Houses: Hurricane-Proof vs Normal

House after being in a hurricane

Isla had always wanted to move to Florida. Florida welcomes visitors with year-round warm temperatures and more than 200 sunny days. While the summers may become rather hot and humid, Florida enjoys generally pleasant and temperate seasons. The year-round warmth and sunshine allow locals to enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities, from sports on the waters to cultural outings. Swimming, boating, scuba diving, paddle boarding, and fishing are all quite popular in Florida. The many tourist destinations, like Disney World and Universal Studios, are also conveniently close to home.

In Florida, particularly around the ocean, the pace of life tends to be more relaxed. Likewise, the tone is less formal. More individuals will be wearing shorts and sandals than they will be wearing collared shirts and ties. Florida is one of the best states in which to relax and enjoy the present moment.

Knowing this, and all of the different beaches she could visit, Isla knew she was making the right decision. In Florida, every day is a possible beach day. Just outside most people’s front doors are some of the most stunning beaches in the whole world. Siesta Public Beach in Sarasota, Clearwater Beach, Pensacola Beach, Delray Beach, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Panama City Public Beach, Grayton Beach, and St. George Island are award-winning Florida beaches. You may, of course, spend the day sunbathing on the sugar sand, but you can also play beach volleyball, fish from the coast, or go for a picturesque jog. You can also swim, kayak, or take a boat out on the water.

But there was one problem regarding Isla’s concept of how it would be living in Florida: nobody told her about the bad weather.

Florida and Bad Weather

In the southern part of Florida, a sweater is about all the winter clothing you’ll ever need. For instance, consider Miami. Average lows in the winter are between 76- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest it gets in the summer is about 90-degrees.

According to the National Weather Service, the months of June through September are the heaviest rainfall months in Florida, and the state is known nationwide as the lightning capital of the country. When there is a risk of lightning in a region, warning sirens will sound, instructing people to remain inside until the risk has passed. Lightning is a significant hazard.

Because Florida is a peninsula, a large portion of the state is vulnerable to flooding caused by storm surge waters. Your insurance provider will force you to get flood insurance if you live in a low-lying location, and it is expensive. Your annual premium for flood insurance may be as little as $190 or more than $2,000, depending on the flood zone in which you reside. Take Tampa, Florida, as an example; the typical cost of flood insurance there is $859.

So, Isla’s move to Florida was precipitated by only the positive facts about the state. Isla had not made any provisions for flood insurance or even protecting her house against tropical thunder storms, which can sometimes turn into hurricanes. Isla was not prepared for the coming storm.

Isla Experiences Her First Hurricane

Fallen electric transformer following a hurricane.

When the storm hit her area, it did so with intensity. And just when she thought things couldn’t get much worse, the wind kicked up even more. The electrical wires to her home were severed when trees were uprooted by the wind. The fuse box for the electrical system blew up. Some very heavy conifers came crashing down on top of her rooftiles, doing some serious damage to the roof.

The wind whistled through the windows as Isla tried to find a safe spot in her house to weather out the storm. For a few minutes, she just sat there in silence, peering out the patio window. Even in the darkness, she could see the silhouettes of the trees rustling in the wind. The rain kept pummelling her windows, making her afraid that they would shatter at any time. Some plants in the yard were uprooted and the toilet window suffered a mighty blow from the plants being blown about. Isla couldn’t gauge the windspeed at that time but by the way the wind was howling, she could only guess. In fact, it was a category 3 hurricane. The palm tree closest to the patio was aggressively swaying back and forth in the sea of shadows. Like Niagara Falls, water was pouring over the rooftops. Large pine trees were leaning at acute angles and losing branches.

Her bedroom window burst at about 1:30 a.m., letting in rain and broken glass.

It was considerably worse in the courtyard. Many pine trees had been uprooted and splintered in two, and others had been sent crashing to the earth in their entirety. Once the storm passed, and with tears in her eyes, Isla took a stroll around the area to assess the damage. Numerous fallen trees and sagging power cables. She had no electricity but she had food and for the most part she was safe and sound. She had never heard about this side of Florida. But she was happy to have experienced it. She would be ready next time.

How Isla Should Have Hurricane-Proofed Her House

Now let’s imagine a second home, in a different reality, where Isla was prepared for the storm. These are the steps she followed in her preparedness:

Isla Made a Plan

The Atlantic and Caribbean regions’ hurricane seasons officially begin on June 1st, whereas the North Pacific’s season begins on May 15th. It ends on November 30. Isla made sure she was ready for hurricane season by making preparations well in advance.

She put a list of important telephone numbers in a visible location, on her refrigerator and next to the main phone in her home. She then also proceeded to put the numbers in her phone’s address book.

She Prepared an Emergency Supply Kit

She then found out where the closest shelter is and how to get there from her location. In the case of a storm, she realized she should know where to seek shelter.

And as a pet owner, she planned beforehand for where her two cats would go if she had to evacuate, whether that’s a shelter, a pet-friendly hotel, or a friend or family who lives elsewhere. In the event that she would be required to evacuate her house, the local animal shelters would be able to provide her with guidance on what to do with the cats.

Isla Got a Contractor to Hurricane-Proof Her House

Isla’s contractor fortified her house against hurricanes in a myriad of ways:

Certain architectural characteristics help your property withstand a hurricane or other harsh weather conditions. Wind pressure on any one side is reduced by rounded walls or properties with square structures, while a 30-degree roof slope provides the optimum wind deflection. To keep the property weathertight, hurricane-proof dwellings are commonly outfitted with reinforced windows and impact glass.

Reinforced concrete is a popular option because it is a durable, thick material that, when utilized appropriately, can endure damaging high winds and flying debris. Because of its great degree of flexibility, wood is also a popular structural material. These changes were made to Isla’s home where they were appropriate.

The round walls prevent the wind from building up pressure since it is swiftly dispersed back into the environment, enabling the structure to stay sturdy.

The contractor also added high-quality timber that is twice as robust as standard homebuilding materials. Plywood sheathing is attached to the outside of the house to reinforce it even more and prevent flying debris from puncturing the walls. Exceptional winds may frequently pull a structure off the ground, but fortified properties have strong structural stability thanks to metal strapping from the roof trusses to the foundation and several connections to the floor.

The pitched roof—at the optimal angle for wind deflection and minimal lift—change the shape of the house’s rooms on a minimal level. Floor-to-ceiling reinforced windows were then added to provide additional protection as well as spectacular views of the outside.

All the glass in the house was also replaced with impact windows that can resist the force of debris striking the surface during a storm.

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