This year’s hurricane season serves as a stark reminder of the danger posed by Mother Nature. While Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey have dominated headlines for their recent impacts on the southernmost U.S., more severe weather is expected before the upcoming winter months. Given the prevalence of large-scale storms over the past few years, many are basing their preparation and recovery efforts on traditional strategies as well as some brand new tricks.
The Preparation Phase
Making preparations before a storm’s arrival is the most effective way of minimizing the potential for damage. Since the majority of severe weather events are trackable with modern radar technology, you’ll likely have plenty of time to prepare.
• Plan your evacuation route. Some storms are so severe that residents are urged and, in some cases, required, to evacuate their homes and communities. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with any publicized evacuation routes before receiving notice.
• Organize your supplies. If you aren’t under a mandatory evacuation, it’s critical that your supplies are fresh and accessible. Stocking up on supplies is best done throughout the year and in the months leading up to hurricane season, but last-minute essentials are purchasable in the weeks, days and hours leading up to an event.
• Safeguard your home. Once you have a clear understanding of any evacuation plans and easy access to your supplies, it’s time to begin safeguarding your home for the impending storm. Boarding up windows, sealing leaky roofs or windows and putting away your lawn ornaments are all basic tips. You might also consider reinforcing your garage door, installing roof straps to your home and reviewing your insurance policies.
As effective as these tips are, it’s impossible to plan for the whims of Mother Nature. In extreme scenarios, your only option might involve proceeding with recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The Recovery Phase
Depending on the size and scale of the storm, recovery might last hours, days, weeks or even months. While it takes little effort to repair a broken window or repair minor roof damage, those who experience the most damage might face an entire rebuild.
• Assess the damage. Whether you’re returning home from an evacuation or emerging from a secure shelter, now is the time to assess the extent of the devastation. Some hazards might still be present, including downed power lines, toxic building materials and unstable buildings, so it’s important to take caution when exploring an impacted neighborhood.
• Rebuild and recover. Only after you’ve properly assessed the damage can you begin to rebuild and recover. Keep in mind that your local home improvement stores might experience shortages in materials, so this could hamper your efforts even further. You can minimize this effect by purchasing some replacement materials ahead of time. Modular homes, which are buildable in less than 30 days and durable enough to withstand high winds and flooding, are popular for supporting recovery efforts across the nation.
• In some cases, your neighborhood might receive state or federal assistance. This is typically reserved for the largest and most devastating hurricanes, but smaller storms sometimes warrant funding, too. Some experts already predict that the recovery for Hurricane Harvey alone could top $180 billion.
Your exact recovery phase ultimately depends on the extent of the devastation. If you’re one of the lucky ones who avoided serious damage, consider lending a helping hand to one of your neighborhoods – they’ll certainly appreciate it.
Plan for the Unexpected and Mitigate Your Risks
Creating a foolproof plan to counteract a hurricane requires the ability to control the weather or predict the future. Barring either of these sci-fi traits, your only option is to utilize the information you have and plan according to the latest weather forecasts. Planning for a severe weather incident is never straightforward, but your diligence in the initial preparation phase can go a long way in making your recovery efforts a little more bearable.