The National Hurricane Center near Miami, Florida constantly monitors the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico looking for tropical disturbances. These disturbances develop in open ocean areas, and move across the seas. If wind speeds within such disturbances reach 39 miles per hour and move in a circular pattern in a counter-clockwise direction, they are categorized as tropical storms. Tropical storms that continue to grow are designated hurricanes when their wind speeds exceed 74 miles per hour.
Hurricanes generally occur between June 1st and November 30th. Hurricanes generate a series of threats to lives and property. The most obvious is the threat posed to buildings, equipment, and people by the high winds, which characterize such storms. Another serious threat to life and property comes from the storm surge, which occurs in coastal areas. Storm surges consist of huge domes of water and storm driven waves, which are pushed inland ahead of a hurricane. Tides of three to ten feet above normal are common, but the storm surge may rise twenty feet or more in large hurricanes. Waves come ashore with great force, far beyond the reach of normal surf. In relatively flat areas, the storm surge may push many miles inland. Hurricanes often generate heavy rainfall, which can cause severe flooding over wide areas. Hurricanes also may spawn deadly tornadoes. Flooding and tornadoes may affect areas well inland.
The National Weather Service rates hurricanes by their intensity, using a scale of one to five. The scale, which is outlined below, categorizes storms according to their sustained winds; the storm surges produced, and expected damage.
- Category One – Winds of 74 to 95 mph, storm surge of 4 to 5 feet above normal tide. Damage to shrubbery, trees, poorly constructed signs, and unanchored mobile homes. Low lying coastal roads inundated.
- Category Two – Winds of 96 to 110 mph, storm surge of 9 to 12 feet above normal tide. Some damage to roofing materials of buildings; some wind and door damage. Major damage to exposed mobile homes. Coastal roads and low-lying escape routes made impassable by rising water 2 to 4 hours before arrival of hurricane.
- Category Three – Winds of 111 to 130 mph, storm surge 9 to 12 feet above normal tide. Large trees blown down. Some damage to roofing materials of buildings; some window and door damage. Some structural damage to small buildings. Mobile homes destroyed. Serious flooding at the coast; many small structures destroyed; large structures damaged by waves and debris.
- Category Four – Winds of 131 to 155 mph, storm surge 13 to 18 feet above normal tide. Shrubs and trees blown down, all signs down. Extensive damage to roofing materials, windows, and doors. Complete failure of roofs of many small residences. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Flat terrain 10 feet or less above sea level flooded inland as far as six miles. Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore.
- Category Five – Winds greater than 155 mph, storm surge greater than 18 feet above normal tide. Shrubs and trees blown down; considerable damage to roofs of buildings. Very severe and extensive damage to windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5 to 10 miles of shore possibly required.
General Hurricane Preparations
All business owners and managers should develop basic hurricane awareness. You are responsible for planning to protect facilities and employees. Suggested pre-hurricane season planning activities are outlined below.
- Employee Preparation
- Determine which members of your staff you will need to carry out hurricane preparations and who you can reasonably expect to be available. Some employees may need to assist their own families or relatives in evacuating from threatened areas. You will probably need all of your building maintenance staff to prepare your facility for a hurricane. Regularly update your list of employee phone numbers and ensure each department head has a copy.
- Develop a simple written plan, which incorporates a set of Hurricane Task Assignments for your staff. Inputs regarding the tasks to be accomplished should be solicited from all of the various work centers at your facility.
- Outline the specific tasks which must be performed to protect your facility during a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning, how they will be accomplished, and who will perform them.
- It is probably desirable to develop teams for many tasks – a team to board up, a team to secure exterior equipment, and so forth. Staff members who will be performing unfamiliar tasks may need some instruction in these tasks and the use of any equipment that may be required to accomplish those tasks.
- Outline your hurricane response plan and task assignments at a training session. Familiarization training should be conducted at the beginning of every hurricane season – and during the season if there is high staff turnover. Update team assignments on a regular basis.
- Facility Preparation
- If your facility is in a storm surge inundation zone or appears to be unsafe for occupancy during high winds, you may have to completely evacuate it. Identify essential business records that should be removed from the facility and determine where you plan to take them. Back up computer records on disk or tape and move these with other essential records.
- Review your list of major equipment and furnishings to determine which items need to be protected or removed and record how you plan to do it. The basic choice is to try to protect your equipment and furnishings in-place or move them out of the area, which is at risk. In either case, determine what equipment and manpower will be needed to relocate these items. If you plan to protect equipment in-place, move it to well-protected interior rooms on floors above the level of potential flooding.
- Identify outside equipment and furnishings, which could be blown loose and may become deadly missiles in hurricane winds. Determine where they will be stored or how they will be secured in-place. Among the items to be secured are any available outside merchandise, trashcans, signs, awnings, antennas and tools.
- Strongly anchor any portable storage buildings.
- Ensure rooftop equipment such as exhaust fans, wind turbines, and air conditioning units are securely fastened or strapped down to the roof deck. – Peach State Roofing will complete this.
- If the roof is a composition roof with gravel covering, remove loose gravel to preclude damage to unprotected windows by stones being blown off of the roof. – Peach State Roofing will complete this.
- Ensure that members of your staff know how to turn off the electrical power, water, gas, and other utility services within your building at main switches.
- Obtain several battery-operated radios and spare batteries to be ensuring you can receive emergency information. It is desirable to have at least one radio on site, which can receive National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio frequencies. Weather radios with a tone alert capability are a very effective way of receiving reports of significant changes in weather conditions.
- Procure sufficient flashlights and other battery powered lights to allow essential work to be conducted in the event of power outage. Ensure good supplies of fresh batteries are on hand throughout the hurricane season.
- Compile a disaster supply kit and have this ready for emergencies with contents such as: foods, (canned goods, non-perishable, ready to eat), water (one gallon per person per day), manual can opener and other eating utensils, personal hygiene items such as soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, toilet paper, first aid kit, and manual, fire protection equipment or fire extinguisher, rainwear, gloves, and blankets.
- If you do not have storm shutters, ensure you have the necessary tools to board up windows and brace doors. The first priority in protecting your facility will be to keep the wind out. Wind pressure and windblown debris can break windows and blow in doors. Sliding glass doors, large picture windows, skylights, French doors, inward opening double doors, and garage doors are particularly vulnerable. Such tools as a circular or hand saw, a drill with appropriate bits, a hammer or nail gun, hand or power-driven screwdriver, and a wrench may be needed. Nails will be sufficient on wood-framed windows and doors but screws or bolts and washers are necessary for metal-framed windows and doors.
- Have an ample supply of brooms, squeegees, mops, and absorbents to remove water.
- A small emergency generator could be useful. The power may go out before a hurricane comes ashore and may be out for an extended period. An emergency generator could provide the capability to maintain lighting, recharge battery powered equipment, and power pumps and tools, which may be needed for expedient repairs after the hurricane passes.
- Recommended Supplies
- Plywood (preferably 5/8 inch thick exterior grade) to cover large windows and glass doors which can be blown in by hurricane force winds. If possible, obtain plywood before hurricane season begins and precut it to size, mark each panel to identify where it goes, and store it until needed.
- Sufficient lumber to brace inward-opening exterior doors and roll-up doors on the inside. Boards should be 2 x 4’s or larger.
- Waterproof tape (duct tape or filament tape) to help protect the smaller windows in your facility from powerful wind gusts and flying debris. Apply tape in a criss-cross pattern.
- Tie-down material (rope or chain) for outside furnishings and equipment that can’t be moved.
- Heavy duty plastic sheeting (4 mil thickness or greater), furring strips, and a nail or staple gun to be used to make expedient roof and window repairs. Plastic sheeting can also be used to cover and protect equipment in the event of roof damage or leaks.
- A supply of sandbags may be helpful in preventing intrusion of water through doorways into low-lying sections of buildings. Sandbagging can be very time consuming. It takes two people about an hour to fill and place 100 sandbags creating a wall only a foot high and 20 feet long.
- It is suggested that you stockpile the emergency supplies needed during the hurricane season. Many of the listed items rapidly disappear from retail outlets when a hurricane threatens.
WHEN A HURRICANE WATCH IS ISSUED
Peach State Roofing will schedule an on-site visit. This visit will be to ascertain all aspects needed to best secure the facilities roof and rooftop equipment.
- A visual inspection will be scheduled. During this visit a pictorial log of the current roof conditions will be recorded.
- If any deficiency is reported and contracted for repair this section will be photographed and recorded.
- If any rooftop equipment is deemed to be insecure; Peach State Roofing will notify the building engineer. If this work falls under the scope of work that Peach State Roofing is contracted for; this work will be completed and photographed. If it is not under Peach State Roofing scope an appropriate Trade will be contracted to secure the item. Peach State Roofing will then revisit and inspect the work and photograph and record the work.
Peach State Roofing will provide a complete photo album of the roof condition after all work has been completed. This documentation if needed will be used for the purpose of any Insurance claim resulting from Acts of God.
WHEN A HURRICANE HAS PASSED
Peach State Roofing will schedule an on-site visit. This visit will be to ascertain any roof and rooftop equipment damages caused by the hurricane.
- A visual inspection will be scheduled. During this visit a pictorial log of the current roof conditions will be recorded.
- If any damage is reported and contracted for repair this section will be photographed and recorded.
- If any rooftop equipment is damaged; Peach State Roofing will notify the building engineer. If this work falls under the scope of work that Peach State Roofing is contracted for; this work will be completed and photographed. If it is not under Peach State Roofing scope an appropriate Trade will be contracted to repair or replace the item. Peach State Roofing will then revisit and inspect the work and photograph and record the work.
- Peach State Roofing will provide all pictorial and documentation of the roof condition prior to any hurricane damage. This information will be vital for any and all insurance claims.
*This article was contributed by Wayne Belina (Peach State Roofing – South Florida Office)
Peach State Roofing, Inc. – National Commercial Roofing Services