Hurricane and Storm Preparedness
Planning and Response Program
Hurricanes and severe storms are a common occurrence in Florida and throughout the southeastern U.S. Since hurricane Andrew in 1992, EnviroHome, a state licensed engineering firm, has been an industry leader in dealing with the recovery process from these catastrophic events. During the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, EnviroHome conducted thousands of water/moisture entry investigations and indoor air quality (IAQ) assessments in response to insurance damage claims. Our remediation design group performed hundreds of building water extraction and dry-out activities in addition to mold remediation projects. Quick, accurate, and complete responses on these projects resulted in reduced losses and allowed building owners to get their operations up and running without having to wait on time consuming insurance claims processing.
Experience has allowed EnviroHome to become the industry leader in hurricane and storm preparedness, planning and response. We have developed a detailed program to minimize the impact of hurricanes and storms on all types of building structures. The program's details are outlined below.
Once a hurricane or storm event has occurred, it is imperative that the building be inspected immediately by a building science professional as well as an expert in building construction.
The most critical stage of response is the first 72 to 96 hours after the storm event. Wet building materials must be identified, and the dry-out process initiated within this time frame.
Hurricane Preparedness Audit
The Hurricane Preparedness Audit is designed to identify the weak points in a building’s shell seal and to outline corrective measures before the storm hits. Examples may include the identification of building envelope water/moisture entry points, inadequate waterproofing measures, and inadequate and/or structurally un-sound storm shutter protection. Condominiums are especially vulnerable to roof deck flooding and water entry through improperly sealed flashing and roof deck vents that may be installed incorrectly. Inadequate balcony drainage and improper door waterproofing are also major water entry points. Buildings with impact glass windows and soffit vents are especially vulnerable to wind driven rainwater entry.
Through the audit process we have been able to drastically reduce wind and water/moisture entry damages associated with hurricanes and severe storm events.
EnviroHome is one of the leading providers of FEMA compliant Flood Mitigation services both in the residential and commercial sector. This program is tied to reducing or eliminating the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings and structures insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your local community official determines your home or building to be substantially or repetitively damaged by flood, you may be required to bring the structure into compliance with the community’s local floodplain management ordinance. If the home or building is in a high-risk flood zone, mitigation may be required before you can build-back a flood damaged home or structure. Grants may be available in some communities.
Flood mitigation projects are usually benchmarked against the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your area. The BFE is the level floodwater is expected to reach during a flood event that has a one-in-100 chance of occurring in any given year. The BFE is shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and in the Flood Insurance Study. To find your BFE, talk to your floodplain manager.
The requirements for mitigating a home or structure are outlined in the FEMA requirements and for residential flood risks may include:
Elevate your home’s lowest floor above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
Elevating can lower flood insurance premiums and reduce the risk from increased future flood levels.
Elevate or flood proof HVAC and/or mechanical units, ductwork, electrical systems, and other utilities above the BFE to protect against flood damage and reduce repair costs.
Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages, and other enclosed areas.
Flood vents reduce flood damage by allowing water to flow through and drain out.
Use flood-resistant materials in areas of your home below the BFE, like replacing carpeting with tiles or using flood-resistant insulation and gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock), to prevent water from doing major damage.
Anchor any fuel tanks to the floor and make sure vents and fill line openings are above the BFE (this may require permission from your fuel provider). A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, spilling fuel and becoming a fire hazard.
Install a backflow valve on your sewer system to prevent sewage back up in your home.
Add waterproof veneer to exterior walls to prevent shallow flooding from damaging your home.
Seal your basement walls with waterproofing compounds.
In a commercial building flood risk, the mitigation process may include:
Elevating smaller buildings lowest floor above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
In cases where the building can not be elevated special flood prevention measures to protect against water/moisture entry to the building interior may be required and include:
Installation of flood gates, doors and special barriers to eliminate or reduce flood water entry to the building interior.
The waterproofing of exterior walls to prevent water/moisture entry
Sealing building foundations to prevent through floor water/moisture entry
The installation of interior specialized pump systems to handle water entry to the building interior.
Testing and Waterproofing
As part of the Audit process, leak testing, and water proofing may be recommended to ensure that a building’s shell seal (envelope) is watertight. This includes roof decks, flashings, windows, doors, and foundation seals. We have found that many of these building components are not adequately sealed and/or the water proofing measures have broken down over time. When subjected to wind driven rain, many of these components have failed leading to major water/moisture intrusion to the interior resulting in damaged building finishes and furnishings.
The increased use of impact glass windows and doors has been especially problematic because they have replaced the use of storm shutters. In a wind driven rain storm the storm shutter was the primary water/moisture barrier at the window and door openings. Without detailed water proofing and maintenance, impact glass window and door openings have become major water/moisture entry points at the frame and stucco seams and at frame-to-frame seams between double windows,
Proper water proofing requires painstaking attention to details, the selection of the right sealant for the specific application, and proper preparation of the surfaces to be sealed.
The life expectancy of most caulking when exposed to UV light is 3 to 5 years. All building envelope seals (water proofing measures) should be inspected and touched up annually. Leak tests should be performed to verify that the water proofing measures are adequate.
Building Damage Assessment
Once a hurricane or storm event has occurred, it is imperative that the building be inspected immediately. The inspection must be conducted by a building science professional, an expert in building construction as well as water entry damage assessment, mold, and indoor air quality issues. The inspector must be working under the direction of a state licensed professional engineer. The assessment must incorporate the use of infrared thermography to identify and delineate hidden water/moisture concerns, and must cover all building systems (roof, electrical, HVAC, etc.) and assess both the physical damage as well as the hidden damages that can result from water/moisture exposure (corrosion to electrical equipment, mold, etc.).
The final report must include complete documentation of the claimed damage and losses, including photographic documentation, and remediation protocols to ensure the safe removal of fungal (mold) concerns. The final reports must be thorough and be defensible in a court of law in the event of an insurance claim dispute.
Emergency Response / Water Extraction
The most critical stage of response is the first 72 to 96 hours after the storm event. Wet building materials must be identified, and the dry-out process initiated within this time frame. Beyond 96 hours mold concerns and hidden mold concerns will become the driving factor and will likely mandate the removal of the entire damaged building material.
Water extraction emergency response services are provided by EnviroHome’s remediation design group and various remediation subcontractors. EnviroHome’s goal is to get businesses operating as soon as possible after a hurricane, storm, or other water entry event. Our subcontractors maintain an extensive inventory of dehumidifiers, water extraction equipment, and HEPA air scrubbers and can respond to water extraction and dry-out jobs of any size.
EnviroHome is a leading provider of Wind Mitigation Designs for both residential and commercial buildings located in high-risk storm setting. Services include:
Storm shutter system design and installation
Roof attachment anchor system design installation
Gable End bracing. Gable end roofs are more susceptible to high wind than other roof types. If you have a gable end roof, add bracings to reinforce the roof.
Reinforce garage doors and double-entry doors to prevent failure under wind pressure. Garage doors can be reinforced with girts and by strengthening the glider wheel tracks. Double-entry doors can be reinforced with a heavy-duty dead bolt, adding slide bolts on one of the doors, and using longer hinge attachments on the door and frame.
Maintain your property. Anything from loose shingles to trees can become a windborne missile.
The distance between your home and any tree should be greater than a full-grown tree’s height.