Preparing for and Responding to Wind Damage from Hurricanes

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

Hurricanes can cause extensive wind damage when they make landfall or even when they pass nearby coastal areas. The states most vulnerable to hurricane damage are Florida, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and parts of Georgia. These southern coastal states on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico are in the most common paths for hurricanes and tropical storms to make landfall, usually between the months of June through November. Their geography makes them prone to high winds, storm surge flooding, and heavy rains, which often cause severe destruction.

It is important to take steps before hurricane season starts to protect your home or business from potential wind damage.

Secure Outdoor Items

One of the easiest ways to prevent wind damage is to bring inside or firmly secure down any loose outdoor items like patio furniture, grills, potted plants, yard decorations, garbage cans, etc. Anything that could blow away or turn into dangerous flying debris should be properly stored ahead of time. Consider installing storm shutters over windows and doors if you live in hurricane-prone regions.

Inspect Trees and Roofing

Take some time to look over large trees on your property. Trim any dead branches and identify any areas of erosion or cracks in tree trunks that make them more vulnerable to toppling over. Have a professional arborist inspect any questionable-looking older/larger trees. 

Get up on your roof and clear away any debris in gutters or around vents. Look for any areas where shingles are missing or cracked as they can easily blow off in high winds. Reinforce roof decking and siding materials if needed.

Plan an Evacuation Route

If you live in an evacuation zone, have an escape plan ready to go the moment authorities announce it’s time to leave. Know exactly where you will go and have supplies packed so you can leave at a moment’s notice once the order is given. Don’t wait until the hurricane hits or a tornado is on the ground from feeder bands.

Responding After Wind Damage Occurs

Even after the winds have died down, you can’t let your guard down yet.

Stay Inside & Be Cautious

If your home sustains roof damage, blown-out windows, etc. do not exit the interior rooms until the winds have fully died down and it is safe to assess. Beware of fallen power lines, debris, and downed trees outside once the storm passes. Only call 911 if there is a true emergency like a fire or injury.     

Start Repairs & Document Damage

Have tarps, plywood, tools, etc. ready to make temporary repairs like covering holes in the roof, walls, or windows to prevent further interior water damage from rain getting inside after the storm winds subside. Take extensive photos/video to fully document the damage for insurance claims. Keep records of repair expenses as well.

Contact Us 

Notify us as soon as possible after damage occurs so we can help you get your insurance claim submitted for review. We will work with you to see what repairs are reasonable to initiate immediately yourself (like removing downed trees) and clarify which need official inspection first. Insurance claims can be tricky, so you need experts like us on your side.

Visit our office at 200 Lake Morton Drive, Suite 300, Lakeland, FL 33801.

Call us today for a free consultation on (833) 941-7867.

Storm Surge and the Structurally Unsound: Impacts of Hurricane Flooding on Houses

Friday, February 2nd, 2024

Hurricane storm surge poses a major threat to coastal communities. As hurricanes make landfall, they push a wall of ocean water ashore with tremendous force. This storm surge can cause extreme flooding, especially in low-lying areas, with water levels reaching as high as 20 feet or more above ground level. The effects of this flooding on houses can be severe, even catastrophic. From foundation damage to total destruction, storm surge flooding impacts the structural integrity of homes in multiple ways. Understanding these impacts is key for homeowners in hurricane-prone regions.

Storm Surge Height and Destructive Power

The height of storm surge is a major determinant of its destructive capacity. Higher storm surge equals more intense flooding, with faster moving and higher volume water. This tremendous hydraulic force presses against the exterior walls of homes with incredible pressure. Six feet of surge flooding can demolish large sections of standard wood-framed house walls. Eight feet of rise or more leaves little standing but a home’s core and roof structure.

Even houses reinforced to withstand hurricane-force winds can fail under the intense lateral pushing water load of a tall surge. Two-story homes are especially vulnerable, as the first level floods while upper levels catch wind, leading to buckling or collapse. The more intense the surge height and flooding, the greater the probability of major home structural damage. Surge levels over 10 feet almost guarantee massive failures in all but the most robustly engineered coastal dwellings.

Soaking, Erosion and Foundation Damage

Even if they are not outright destroyed by storm surge, houses can suffer crippling impacts to their structural soundness. The floodwaters themselves cause damage, as prolonged soaking deteriorates building materials, warps support beams, and erodes foundations over time. Additionally, fast flowing surge water essentially batters the substructure of flooded homes for hours or days, scouring away supporting soils and rocks.

Undermined foundations crack, shift and sink unevenly, profoundly compromising the integrity of the overall structure. Concrete or masonry walls develop gaps and fissures as they settle while upper levels remain stationary, straining connections to joists and rafters. Any house left standing after lengthy major surge flooding likely has serious structural issues. Post-flood inspections invariably reveal alarming cracks, separations, and misalignments caused by uneven sinking and soil erosion. These undermine the load-bearing capacity the home requires to be considered structurally sound.

Mold and Rot: Pervasive Secondary Impacts

Even after surge waters recede, the problems compound for flooded homes. Waterlogged materials allow for rampant mold growth inside walls, floors, and furnishings. Wet wood beams, internal supports and external sheathings also rot progressively. Unchecked mold infestations create respiratory health hazards for occupants while advancing rot silently destabilizes framing elements. This pervasive moisture damage and material decomposition behind the scenes further undermines the overall structural stability of surge-flooded homes. On the surface, houses may appear largely intact at first. But on the inside, they continue to weaken bit by bit through these secondary moisture impacts in the weeks and months after the storm. By the time an owner discovers a buckling floor or wall, the unseen decay and mold growth have often already structurally doomed the dwelling.

Is it Worth Trying to Save Them?

For homeowners saddled with a surge-flooded house, a difficult question arises: is saving the home even worth the cost and effort? Foundation repairs, mold remediation, beam replacement and soil stabilization can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars – exceeding many homes’ pre-flood market values. Local building codes may require lengthy permitting processes or trigger improved codes during repairs, driving costs even higher still.

Delays also allow ongoing deterioration as owners wait on contractors, financing, permitting, and inspections. Depending on a home’s initial value and extent of damage, owners often reach the unfortunate conclusion that their once beloved home simply cannot feasibly be restored to a structurally sound, livable condition. Tragically, cherished dwellings that held a lifetime of memories must be left behind due to insurmountable structural and financial realities.

Insurance Battles and Seeking Compensation

Surge flooding leaves many houses totally demolished or structurally too unstable to repair at reasonable cost. This represents a painful financial loss for storm victims. Homeowners’ insurance policies may provide some coverage, but claims processes often involve steep hurdles in the aftermath of such widespread coastal disasters. Mass claims strain insurer resources, leading to systematic delays or denials to conserve funds. Even good-faith insurers often dispute the extent of structural instability, pressing homeowners to fund questionable repairs themselves.

By contacting competent legal counsel specializing in denied or limited insurance claims related to hurricane home damage, you take an important step toward getting fairly compensated. An experienced lawyer can advise if you have grounds to compel your insurer to fully cover your losses. They can also determine if negligence by other parties – home builders, for example – contributed to the extent of damages. In the long and arduous path to recovering from catastrophic surge flooding, getting legal help improves the odds of securing your financial rights.

Hurricane storm surge unleashes fierce destructive energy against houses in its path. The force of the floodwaters themselves, combined with ensuing moisture damage, takes a heavy toll on the structural integrity of soaked homes. Even houses left physically standing often prove to have critical underlying compromises, making saving them an unreasonable proposition for owners. Yet insurers all too frequently fail disaster victims through unwarranted claim denials and delays.

By consulting qualified legal counsel, you improve the chances of obtaining fair insurance compensation, or possibly damages from negligent home builders. After having your life turned upside down by catastrophic hurricane flooding, getting proper legal support helps the long process of staying on your feet and securing accountability. Though material possessions may be lost, hope lies ahead – if you know your legal rights and work with an experienced professional to demand the resources you need to rebuild.

If you’re struggling to receive an insurance payout following a storm, contact us today.

You can visit our office at 200 Lake Morton Drive, Suite 300, Lakeland, FL 33801.

Or give us a call for a free consultation on (833) 941-7867.

Flimsy in the Face of Wind: Building Codes and Hurricane Resiliency

Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

The aftermath of a hurricane can be a devastating experience, particularly for those who have witnessed their homes succumb to the relentless force of wind and rain. As storms become more frequent and intense, it raises critical questions about the structural integrity of our homes and the effectiveness of building codes in ensuring resilience. This article delves into the role of building codes in hurricane-prone areas and offers insights for homeowners who find themselves grappling with storm damage.

Building Codes: The Foundation of Resilience

Building codes are a set of regulations stipulating the minimum standards for construction in a particular region. In hurricane-prone areas, these codes play a pivotal role in safeguarding homes against the destructive forces of nature. However, the effectiveness of these codes depends on their stringency and adherence during construction. Homeowners should be aware of the specific codes applicable to their region and ensure that contractors strictly follow them during building or renovation projects.

Understanding Wind Load and Impact Resistance

One of the key aspects of building resilience against hurricanes is considering the wind load on structures. Wind load refers to the force exerted by the wind on a building, and it varies depending on factors such as wind speed, building height, and surrounding terrain. Homes designed with a focus on wind load considerations are better equipped to withstand hurricane-force winds. Additionally, impact-resistant windows and doors can significantly reduce the risk of damage caused by flying debris during storms.

The Vulnerability of Roofing Systems

Roofs are often the first line of defense against the fury of hurricanes. A weak or improperly installed roof can lead to catastrophic damage to the entire structure. Building codes provide guidelines for roofing systems, including material specifications, installation techniques, and wind resistance requirements. Homeowners should ensure that their roofs meet or exceed these standards to enhance the overall resilience of their homes.

Elevated Foundations: A Crucial Element

In coastal regions prone to storm surge, the elevation of a home’s foundation is a critical factor in minimizing flood damage. Building codes in these areas often mandate elevated foundations to protect homes from rising water levels during hurricanes. Homeowners should be diligent in understanding and implementing these requirements, as a well-designed and elevated foundation can be the difference between minor flooding and catastrophic water damage.

Post-Storm Assessment and Insurance Disputes

Despite the best precautions, some homes may still sustain damage during a hurricane. In the aftermath, a thorough assessment of the extent of the damage is crucial. Homeowners should document the destruction, take photographs, and contact their insurance providers promptly. However, insurance claims can often become contentious, with disputes arising over coverage and repair costs.

Contact Storm Damage for Expert Assistance

Navigating the aftermath of a hurricane and dealing with storm damage can be overwhelming for homeowners. In these challenging times, seeking professional assistance is key. Storm Damage offers a comprehensive solution. From providing accurate repair estimates to resolving insurance disputes, our team of experts is equipped to guide homeowners through the restoration process.

Building codes are the foundation of hurricane resilience, but their efficacy depends on strict adherence and homeowner awareness. Understanding wind load, fortifying roofing systems, elevating foundations, and conducting post-storm assessments are crucial steps in safeguarding homes. For those facing the daunting task of repairing storm damage, Storm Damage is a reliable ally to turn to for expert assistance and a smooth recovery process.

Find us at 200 Lake Morton Drive, Suite 300, Lakeland, FL 33801.

Call us today for a free consultation on (833) 941-7867.

Roof Damage and Leaks: How to Spot and Prevent Storm-Related Roof Issues

Monday, January 15th, 2024

Severe storms can wreak havoc on your roof, leading to extensive damage and leaks if preventative measures aren’t taken. Being able to identify potential issues before and after storms can help you take quick action to mitigate costs and avoid headaches down the road. This guide will overview what to look for and how to protect your roof against storm-related damage.

Inspecting Your Roof Before a Storm

The best defense is a good offense when it comes to storm prep for your roof. Taking the time to thoroughly inspect for existing trouble spots or areas needing repair is key.

Look For Previous Repairs: Carefully inspect surfaces for any previous repairs, patches, or sealing. The materials or application methods used may not be as durable or weather resistant. These patches are more likely to become points of failure during storms.

Check Flashing: Flashing details around chimneys, vents, joints, valleys, and eaves are common leakage points. Look for cracked, loose, or missing flashing seals. Also, check for areas where flashing may have pulled away from the roof surface.

Examine Shingles/Tiles: Shingles or tiles that are cracked, cupped, or deformed need replacement. Curled-up edges or corners indicate loss of adhesion. Also, look for any missing or broken shingles/tiles that leave the roof deck exposed.

Clear Gutters and Downspouts: Clogged gutters can’t effectively divert water off the roof. Prune overhanging tree limbs, remove debris, and make sure downspouts are securely attached with water directed well away from the foundation.

Trim Overhanging Trees: Check for tree limbs or branches extending over the roof surface. Trim them back to avoid abrasion damage and keep excess leaves/debris off the roof.

Seal Exposed Fasteners: Exposed nail heads, staples, or screws create ready entry points for leaks. Brush waterproof caulk over and around exposed fasteners.

Inspect and Repair Vent Boots: The rubber boots around plumbing vents tend to crack over time. Look for signs of aging and re-seal using roofing cement or urethane sealant.

Check for Exposed Roof Deck: Curled back or missing roofing materials can leave sections of the vulnerable roof deck exposed. This needs patching prior to any storms.

Address any issues found without delay. It’s also smart to capture images of the roof’s condition before a storm for comparison later if damage occurs. Thorough prep work leads to better storm resilience.

What to Look for After a Severe Storm

Once the winds die down and the clouds part, get up on the roof again ASAP after a major storm. Look for the following trouble signs:

Wind Damage

  • Shingles/tiles that have blown off or become dislodged
  • Debris impact damage, like punctures from blown objects
  • Roof coverings peeled up or ripped along the edges
  • Sections of ridge cap blown away
  • Gutter hangers detached, causing whole sections to fall away
  • Evidence of wind turbulence, like patterns of missing granules scoured from shingles

Water Intrusion

  • Water stains on interior ceiling surfaces directly below the roof
  • Blistering or bubbling of interior paint near roof/ceiling joints
  • Buckling or sagging of drywall along the ceiling line
  • Mold or mildew developing around ceiling areas

Compromised Roof Deck

  • Visible daylight from the attic through the failing roof deck
  • Water dripping from previously secure nails/screw penetrations
  • Cracked or splintered roof decking is visible when inspecting attic
  • Soft, spongy, or weakened areas when walking on the roof surface

Flashing Leaks

  • Watermarks or staining on siding near flashing joints
  • Rust streaks originating from flashing details
  • Visible gaps, separation, or spreading where flashing meets the roofing
  • Missing or degraded caulk at seams and joints

Don’t delay addressing any storm damage spotted. Even small issues like a few blown-off shingles can progress to major roof problems if not repaired quickly. Prioritize trouble areas directly above living spaces prone to water intrusion when deciding where to start repairs.

Prevention Tips to Limit Storm Damage

Aside from inspection and repairs, some other preventative measures can bolster roof resilience:

  • Invest in impact-resistant shingles designed to withstand high winds and resist penetration from debris blows. Architectural-style shingles provide more durability than basic 3-tab shingles.
  • For flat roofs, coatings like urethane foam increase weatherproofing and help resist punctures during storms.
  • Have large trees near the roof professionally trimmed and thinned out to remove weight and wind resistance from branches.
  • Brace gable end framing with extra blocking to provide shear strength against roof failures along gable ends during high winds.
  • Add supplemental roof framing members and hurricane clips to strengthen critical joints prone to uplift and failure in high winds.
  • Install zinc strips at valleys and change roof planes to resist corrosion and leakage from stormwater runoff.
  • Caulk and seal all flashing, skylights, vents, and around chimneys prior to storm season using long-life flexible sealants.
  • Clear all roof drains, gutters, and downspouts before storm season to allow unobstructed drainage.

Applying preventative measures along with vigilant inspection before and after storms offers the best assurance of weathering storms with minimal roof damage. But even with diligent maintenance, unexpected damage can occur.

Seeking Help from a Storm Damage Attorney

If your roof suffers significant storm damage, you should be covered by your property insurance. But if they deny or delay claim payment, a storm damage attorney can advise you through the process. An attorney experienced with storm insurance claims may be able to:

  • Review your policy language and determine if the damage described should be covered.
  • Negotiate directly with your insurance company and their adjusters to gain claim acceptance and/or improve settlement amounts.
  • Assist you in compiling the necessary documentation and evidence to support your damage claim.
  • Represent you in litigation or settlement hearings if a fair claim resolution cannot be reached otherwise.

Don’t struggle alone if your insurance provider is unresponsive to a valid storm damage claim. Seek guidance from a qualified storm damage attorney to protect your interests and maximize claim resolution.

You can visit our office at 200 Lake Morton Drive, Suite 300, Lakeland, FL 33801.

Or call us today for a free consultation on (833) 941-7867.

Storm Preparedness: Protecting Your Home Before Severe Weather Hits

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

When severe storms are in the forecast, it’s important to take steps to protect your home and property from potential damage. Being proactive and preparing in advance can help minimize destruction from high winds, flooding, hail, lightning strikes, and other storm impacts. Follow these tips to help safeguard your house and belongings before turbulent weather arrives.

Stock Up on Essential Supplies

Gather important supplies you may need if the power goes out or if you are confined at home during a storm. This includes non-perishable food, water, batteries, flashlights, a manual can opener, a first aid kit, prescription medications, pet food, and other necessities. Make sure you have enough supplies for each member of your household to last at least three days.

Secure Outdoor Objects

Walk around your yard and bring any loose objects indoors or tie them down securely. This includes patio furniture, grills, potted plants, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that could blow away or cause damage. Check for tree branches that look weak and prune them so they don’t break off in high winds.

Protect Windows and Doors

Windows are one of the most vulnerable parts of a home during storms. Install storm shutters or plywood over them to provide extra protection. Alternatively, you can use tape in a crisscross pattern to help prevent shards of glass if the windows break. Make sure exterior doors are securely closed and locked. Consider using water barriers or sandbags around exterior doors that are prone to flooding.

Clear Gutters and Downspouts

Remove debris from rain gutters so that water can drain properly. Clogged gutters can cause interior water damage during heavy storms. Ensure downspouts direct water several feet away from your home’s foundation.

Inspect and Clear Storm Drains

Clear leaves, dirt and other debris from storm drains near your property. Clogged drains can contribute to street flooding. Notify local authorities if there is a publicly owned drain in need of maintenance.

Check Your Roof

Replace any missing or damaged shingles to prevent costly leaks. Trim overhanging tree branches so they don’t break and damage the roof in high winds. Secure any loose tiles or shingles and inspect flashing around chimneys, vents, and fans.

Know How to Shut Off Utilities

Locate your main water valve, gas valve, and electrical circuit breakers so you can shut them off quickly if needed due to a leak or other damage. Only turn the power back on once electrical systems have been inspected after the storm passes. Contact utility companies for guidance.

Protect Important Documents

Place important documents like insurance policies, medical records, and financial statements in a secure, waterproof container. Have copies stored electronically or in a safety deposit box as added protection.

By taking these proactive measures before a major storm strikes, you can greatly improve the safety of your home and belongings. Pay attention to local weather alerts so you have as much advance notice as possible to implement storm preparations. And if the worst does happen and your property is damaged, speak to us today.

You can visit our office at: 200 Lake Morton Drive, Suite 300, Lakeland, FL 33801.

Call us today for a free consultation on (833) 941-7867.