Emergency operations officials encourage homeowners to update homes if needed

Apr 16, 2012

The following article was posted to MySuncoast.com on April 16, 2012:

Emergency Operations Officials Encourage Homeowners to Update Homes if Needed

By Meredith Garofalo

New homes built on the Suncoast are meant to withstand hurricane force winds, thanks to wind mitigation codes.  But many homes built before the codes were in place need improvements to help withstand potential damage if and when storms strike.

“I think Hurricane Andrew is what made people understand that there was a problem with the construction,” said Manatee County Building Official C.J. Duprey.

Duprey said it’s a problem that came in the form of homes being ripped apart and destroyed by strong winds, prompting wind mitigation requirements to harden homes.  “Adding shutters, impact windows, roof to wall connections,” Duprey used as examples.

But unfortunately many older homes in Manatee County do not meet current requirements. These homes could be at risk for significant wind damage if severe weather or hurricanes roared through the Suncoast.  “Most people don’t realize that they don’t have roof to wall connections, homes built back then, they don’t have strapping to the walls and so, and unless you crawl up into the attic you can’t really verify that you have them,” Duprey said.

So Duprey’s department teamed up with the Division of Emergency Management and Florida’s Foundation to educate homeowners on how they can harden their homes.  “A lot of homes out there that don’t meet the present code, and one of the ways to do that obviously is to provide some structural members either up in the attics or over windows and also garage doors,” said Emergency Management Officer Greg Bacon.

Bacon said that way, when powerful storms threaten, your home will not just have a stronger defense against Mother Nature.  You’ll also be a little less stressed when storms strike.

“If you do it well ahead of time, you’re not caught in the possibility of not being able to get the product as well as giving you plenty of time to do the proper measuring and proper installation,” Bacon said.

Duprey adds in some cases, you might get a little extra money back in your wallet.

“It cost him several thousand dollars to put the shutters, but he’s saving a thousand dollars a year on his insurance.  In 7 years, he’ll have it all paid for and now he has a safer home he can feel comfortable staying in if he has to for a storm,” Duprey said.

People are not required by law to make these improvements on their homes, but Emergency Management officials strongly suggest looking into it.