*With all credit due to Jimmy Buffett, a hit off the 1974 “A1A” Album.
The last encounter with a near full-force hurricane in the Mid-Atlantic was Hurricane Sandy, also referred to as “Superstorm Sandy” in 2012. Sandy was responsible for $70 billion (2012 USD) in damage and killed 233 people, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Sandy
Prior to Hurricane Sandy, we experienced Hurricane Agnes in 1972. Which was 50 years ago. At the time, the costliest hurricane to strike the US, with over 2.1 billion in damage (1972 USD) with 128 lives lost, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Agnes.
Both massive storms were thought of as a “storm of the century”, and yet were only 40 years apart.
While we don’t often face the full-force of a Hurricane in the Mid-Atlantic States, we do see it’s stepchild, the Tropical Storm. These are weather events that often start out as a tropical depression when they first form in the Mexican Gulf or off the coast of Africa or in the Southern Caribbean and become a Hurricane with strong winds and heavy rain. Nevertheless, they still pack powerful, sustained winds and driving, drenching rains that can cause major property damage and loss. They can spawn waterspouts over bodies of water and tornados over land. They cause abnormally high tides and cause significant tidal swells and surges, swamping low-lying areas, causing rivers, creeks and streams to overflow causing flashfloods. Stong winds cause trees to fall and take roofs off buildings with stunning ease. Storm Damage, Water Damage, Wind Damage, and Hail Damage are all hallmarks of Hurricane & Tropical Storm Season.
Hurricane Season runs from June through the end of November.
NOAA … National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration … predicts an above-normal 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season: a 65% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.
The increased activity anticipated this hurricane season is attributed to several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña which is likely to persist throughout the hurricane season. (Source)
A large part of weather model prediction comes from historical data as well as prevailing and observable trends in particular geographical areas. We’ve come to recognize weather terms such as El Niño & La Niña. These are prevailing weather patterns in the Pacific & the Atlantic Oceans, having to do with air and water temperatures present. They have an observable impact on the strength and volatility of hurricanes in both oceans. (Source)
Which leaves us with, “What can we do in the face of an impending Hurricane or Tropical Storm”?
Ground Zero and my Building is in the Center of the Bullseye
Let’s face reality. If you’re geographic area is right in the path of, in essence, a fully-loaded freight train of wind, rain, hail and flying debris, you are likely going to suffer some degree of loss. Local building codes are set in accordance with meteorological conditions (amongst many other factors) but unless you are right on the coast, your building is probably not built to be “hurricane-proof”. Sustained wind speeds over 100 MPH, hours upon hours of dumping rain, golf-ball sized hail and flying debris take their toll on otherwise strong structures. Events like these do not happen every year or even every decade, but they DO happen, twice, now, over the last 50 years in the Mid-Atlantic.
General Building Conditions
After the Titanic struck the iceberg was clearly NOT the time to ‘discover’ there were many more people than the few lifeboats could possibly handle. Likewise, we’ll work under the assumption you have done due diligence with all the routine building maintenance and upkeep with regards to the overall condition of your building’s exterior surfaces, especially the roof and drainage systems. “In the middle of a Tropical Storm”, is not the time to answer the question, “Just HOW leaky is my leaky roof”?
I am not in the Insurance Business and I’m not in a position of offer insurance advice, and this is not intended as such. But as a business and/or property owner, it’s in your own best interest to ensure you have sufficient coverage for all contingencies. There are certain geographical areas where flood insurance is either prohibitively expensive or just plain not offered but ask tough questions of your agent or broker. Know there are often certain coverage options available in an Insurance Policy you may wish to consider.
Personally, if it were me, I would ask my agent or broker things like:
- Does this cover replacement value or depreciated value?
- What changes with coverage if the authorities deem the area a Disaster Area?
- Am I covered if I must pack-out everything from my current location and must temporarily relocate?
- If I experience a major loss due to a catastrophic event, what coverage am I currently lacking that I will later come to regret?
- What question(s) have I not asked, typically, others have?”
Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
There are several proactive steps you, as a business owner or property manager can take to minimize the effects of an impending Hurricane or Tropical Storm. Most of that planning, though, is about how to have the pieces in place to WORK THROUGH the hours or days after the storm passes and how to QUICKLY RECOVER from the wind, water, flooding, and hail damage and get back to ‘business as usual’. We’re not talking about a local thunderstorm here; we’re talking about a Super Storm that will affect millions of people and hundreds or thousands of structures.
Remember your people are your most valuable asset. Having a way to get them out of harms way and a plan…with a backup plan…to stay in communication with them, during a major storm event is key. If there are widespread power outages, also meaning Internet WiFi outages, your cell phone and links to social media platforms are a great way for all your employees to ‘check-in’. Internet ‘Pairing’ or ‘Tethering’ your laptop to your cell phone is a great way to re-connect with the outside world.
There’s much more to come on this topic, so be sure to look for my next blog, where we continue with our discussion.
Meanwhile, a reminder about…
The worst time to look for an Emergency Response Contractor is when you’re in the midst of an emergency.
- FIRST: So is just about everyone else.
- SECOND: Do you really want to ‘shop’ for a reliable company as you watch the water steadily rising?
At Elegant Restoration, we build partnerships and relationships with Commercial Property Owners, Managers, and Business owners who own or lease their physical footprint. I would liken it to developing a relationship with a primary care physician, long before meeting him or her at the emergency room while experiencing a heart attack. No one should have to reach out to a stranger at one of the worst moments in their business.
So don’t call a stranger, call a trusted, vetted partner.
PLUS, our Commercial Partners receive priority response during area-wide emergencies. This moves them to the head of the line.
Commercial Account Partner, Elegant Restoration