In recent years, hurricanes have devastated parts of South Carolina.
In 2015, Hurricane Matthew was a 1,000-year flood event, extending from Charleston to Columbia and Greenville. Inland rivers rose 13 feet above the flood stage, and there was a historic rainfall of up to 20 inches. Last year, Hurricane Dorian also flooded the streets of Charleston and topped Matthew for cleanup with 58 percent more debris.
Now, South Carolina is bracing for a 2020 hurricane season that’s expected to be worse than average.
With difficult storms ahead, combined with the increased challenges of a hurricane during the coronavirus pandemic, now is the time to get proactive about preparing your home for hurricane season.
Learn the four ways to prepare your home for a hurricane.
Created By: Mount Valley Foundation Services
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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 Coastal water problems are worsened by the city’s outdated drainage tunnels that were built before the Civil War.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 can cost more than $25,000 in damage. 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.
Flood preparations can also lower your flood insurance premiums, with some homeowners seeing a 15 percent reduction for the same level of protection. According to FEMA, many flood insurance policies will also reimburse homeowners up to $1,000 for flood mitigation efforts, creating a clear financial incentive to reduce flood risk.
When preparing for a hurricane, one of the first steps is to waterproof your basement. 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 your basement’s needs, professionals commonly recommend repairing foundation cracks where water could enter your home, adding drainage systems, and adding encapsulation or sealant.
The second major aspect of hurricane preparedness is installing a sump pump. The automated systems can help you quickly get water out of your house, pumping up to 2,000 gallons of water per hour. Not only can sump pumps help you to better manage a flood, but they give you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re prepared.
After making these ground-level preparations well before a hurricane, that only leaves your entryways to secure before the storm hits. Create a sandbag perimeter along the bottom of a doorway to prevent water from entering your home. 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
Doing regular yard maintenance throughout the hurricane season will help you be better prepared when a hurricane is approaching.
Start rain preparations by cleaning your gutters. You want to make sure the water accumulation is directed away from your house’s foundation and not toward it. 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.
Be sure to remove yard debris before a hurricane to reduce potential clogs throughout the storm. This includes leaves and grass clippings, as well as the Spanish moss that’s widely present along the South Carolina coast.
And it’s always a good idea to have tarps ready to manage hurricane rains. 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.
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.
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.
Also, prepare for wind by reinforcing 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
When your sump pump has a backup battery, you can 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.
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 Mount Valley Foundation Services can help you be prepared for a hurricane with reliable basement waterproofing, crawl space repair, and foundation repair solutions.