TAMPA, Fla. – The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) urges East Coast residents to prepare for Hurricane Sandy and severe storm conditions that could include high wind speeds, wind-driven rain, tornadoes and extensive flooding.
Hurricane Sandy is a powerful storm that has made its way through the Caribbean, tragically killing 21 people, and now is headed directly toward the East Coast of the U.S. Heavy rain, tidal surge and strong winds are expected this weekend and into the beginning of next week, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The consensus among forecasters is that Sandy could make a direct hit Monday or Tuesday somewhere between the Mid-Atlantic and New England. Meteorologists warn that high winds and pounding rain could extend inland, with the potential for downed trees and power lines, as well as possible flooding.
IBHS has dedicated a large portion of its website home page (DisasterSafety.org) to providing valuable – and free – preparedness and recovery resources. This information is specifically designed to help home and business owners reduce storm-related damage and displacement. For example, the following steps should be taken now by residents in coastal and inland areas that are in the potential path of Hurricane Sandy:
- Install any hardware needed to put up shutters or pre-cut plywood to protect windows and doors. This will allow for easier deployment of covers if and when the storm approaches.
- Bring free-standing, loose items, such as garbage cans and lawn furniture inside, and pick up yard debris that could become projectiles during high winds.
- Cut weak or dead tree branches, along with branches hanging over structures – these could be broken off by high winds and cause severe property damage.
- Make sure caulking around windows and doors is in good shape (not cracked, broken or missing), and fill holes or gaps around pipes or wires that travel from outside to inside the building.
- Roll up area rugs, getting them off the floor to reduce the chances of their becoming sponges and holding water that may get inside. This is particularly important if a property will be left unattended for an extended period of time, and because long-term power outages are possible; where power is out, and water gets in, mold is likely to grow.
- Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure batteries are fresh, or replace them.
“These property protection measures only work if people take the time to implement them before the storm hits,” notes Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Investing a little time now to prepare your property could pay big dividends afterwards.”
Full-scale tests conducted at the unique IBHS Research Center has compellingly demonstrated the types of damage severe wind storms and wind-driven rain (even with only tropical storm strength winds) can cause to a home or business. IBHS test results are translated into property protection resources that empower home and business owners to take some control over the risks they face.
Rochman also emphasized that “while much of the conversation about Hurricane Sandy is focused on exactly where she will make landfall, it is important to remember that hurricanes are not just coastal events. These severe storms don’t stop when they get to a state line or an interstate. High winds and strong, wind-driven rain can travel hundreds of miles inland, causing significant damage and flooding.”
Last year, for example, Hurricane Irene caused major flooding in several states, including Vermont and Pennsylvania. In 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Texas and moved thousands of miles inland to Ohio, where the storm caused more than $1.6 billion in property damage – making it the largest single loss event in the state’s history.
“Unfortunately,” notes Rochman, “buildings further inland generally are not specifically designed and built to withstand high winds. This makes them more vulnerable to damage, so there is a lot of room to improve their performance.”