In recent years, South Carolina residents have seen the damage that hurricanes can cause.
In 2015, Hurricane Matthew brought historic rainfall of up to 20 inches. It was a 1,000-year flood event, extending from Charleston to Columbia and Greenville, and inland rivers rose 13 feet above the flood stage.
Although not as damaging as Hurricane Matthew, there were similar hurricane paths taken by Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and Hurricane Isaias in 2020. This has forward-thinking homeowners preparing for another storm similar to Hurricane Matthew.
In 2021, researchers are predicting an above-average hurricane season. Citing trends with El Niño, La Niña, and ocean temperatures in the subtropical Atlantic, South Carolina could get hit by several major storms during this year’s official hurricane season of June 1 through November 30.
With difficult storms ahead, now is the time to get proactive hurricane preparedness. Learn the four ways to prepare your home for a hurricane.
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1. Prepare for Hurricane Flooding
In cities like Charleston, flooding is one of the biggest threats. Last year, the city flooded about once every five days. Coastal water problems are worsened by the city’s outdated drainage tunnels that were built before the Civil War.
During a hurricane, there is a risk of flooding throughout the state, and unfortunately, flooding can be very expensive. FEMA reports that just one inch of water in an average home leads to an average of $25,000 in damages. A home with one foot of water could see a loss of more than $72,000.
When it comes to flooding, the adage is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on mitigation saves $6 in repairs. Similar results were found in a Florida report about Hurricane Matthew. Flood mitigation improvements before the hurricane had a 422 percent return on investment (ROI).
Investing in flood protection now can help you avoid the worst outcomes. Here’s what you can do to prepare:
- Waterproof your basement or crawl space
Because basements and crawl spaces are at ground level or below ground, adding waterproofing can have a significant impact on how well your home withstands rising floodwaters. Following an initial assessment of the needs of your basement or crawl space, experts commonly recommend water management strategies, including adding drainage systems, installing crawl space vent covers, strengthening foundation walls, repairing foundation cracks where water could enter your home, or installing a vapor barrier.
- Install a sump pump
The speed at which you get floodwater out of your home could determine how much damage you’ll have. An automated sump pump will start removing water out of your home as soon as it’s detected, and it has the ability to pump out thousands of gallons of water. Systems with a battery backup will keep pumping even if the power goes out.
- Create a sandbag perimeter
After making these ground-level preparations well before a hurricane, that only leaves your entryways to secure. Before the storm hits, secure your doorways with a sandbag perimeter to keep water from seeping under the doorframe. Even if some water still seeps through the berm, your sump pump will be able to quickly deal with it.
2. Prepare for Heavy Rain
During a hurricane, the amount of rain falling on your roof can be significant. For example, the drainage calculations reveal that just one inch of rain totals nearly 1,000 gallons of water falling on an average-sized roof. If a hurricane drops a foot of rain, that could be 12,000 gallons of water falling on your roof that you want to keep from getting into your basement or crawl space.
Your home’s performance during a typical rainstorm can give you clues as to how it will fare during significant rainfall. If you get standing water in your yard or you see signs of basement or crawl space moisture, you can make proactive home improvements to prevent bigger problems during a hurricane.
- Maintain your gutters, downspouts, and drainage
Clogged gutters will overflow, and it’s important to make sure water flows away from your house’s foundation. Be especially thoughtful about drainage and slopes because heavy rains can trigger landslides or sinkholes in upstate cities like Greer. Also, make sure the storm drains in your neighborhood are clear from debris. Contact your local officials for drain maintenance, or you can adopt a drain via a pilot program in the City of Charleston.
- Clean up yard debris
Removing yard debris before a hurricane can help you keep drains clear and reduce the clogs that can lead to flooding. This includes leaves and grass clippings, as well as the Spanish moss that’s widely present along the South Carolina coast.
- Have tarps ready
During a hurricane or major storm, it’s always a good idea to have tarps ready to deal with problems. If something does happen where you have rainwater coming inside, a tarp can help you to manage or mitigate the worst of the water damage.
3. Prepare for Hurricane Winds
Hurricane Dorian was a large storm that was about as big as the state itself. Even while Edisto and Folly beaches were seeing big gusts and eight-foot waves, tropical storm-level winds extended 195 miles out from the center of the storm.
It’s not only coastal cities that can get hammered by wind. Hurricane-force winds can reach the inland cities of Greenville and Columbia. Here’s what you can do to make your home more resistant to wind damage.
- Cover your windows
To prepare for high winds, start with the most breakable part of your structure—the windows. By covering your windows, you can protect the contents of your home. You’ll also avoid a tunnel effect where the wind could blow your home apart. Use 5/8” plywood for strong protection, and there are also permanent storm shutters you can install.
- Brace your garage door
A garage door is also a common weak point against high winds. If your garage door fails, the wind will likely cause your roof to fail. Secure your home with a wind-load garage door or by retrofitting your existing garage door with a brace or hurricane shutter.
- Reinforce your roof
Hurricane straps and ties can secure the joints and improve the stability of your structure. One of the strongest protections is to use a system that anchors the roof, walls, and foundation together to create a continuous load path.
4. Prepare for Hurricane Outages
Power outages can extend far beyond the main hurricane damage zone. However, the worst effects can occur when there’s the combined impact of flooding during a power outage. To protect against these circumstances, it’s important to have backup power for your flood protection equipment.
- Get a backup battery for your sump pump
A key part of emergency preparedness is being able to keep pumping water out of your home even when the power is out. During a flood, it can take some time before it’s safe to activate power lines or use a generator, but sump pump batteries are designed to function safely in wet conditions.
- Add a home generator and buy ice
Prepare the rest of your household for power outages. This includes having ice for perishable food and having a generator to run appliances after the immediate water threat has passed.
Find out how a free consultation from Mount Valley Foundation Services can help you be prepared for a hurricane with information about basement waterproofing, crawl space repair, and foundation repair.