Building Enclosure Hurricane Preparations and Recovery

Building Enclosure Hurricane Preparations and Recovery

September 8, 2017

Building Enclosure Hurricane Preparations and Recovery / originally published on LinkedIn by Chris Norris, P.E. / Principal, Managing Director at Walter P Moore Diagnostics

Building enclosure is the first line of defense against damage from Hurricane Irma. Here is a shortlist of proactive measures a building owner can take before and after a hurricane to manage risk and recover:

BEFORE

  • Check roof drains and scuppers to ensure they are free of debris and draining properly.
  • Review exterior mounted mechanical equipment to ensure equipment is properly fastened down.
  • Remove potential projectiles and store inside. Items such as satellite dishes, concrete splash blocks, and amenity deck pavers that are not tied down should be removed.
  • Check roof edge coping and make sure it is properly fastened, especially the leading edges, which can catch wind and result in a complete roof loss.
  • Protect revolving doors from wind loads. Revolving doors are designed to collapse under pressure for egress safety reasons, which can result in failure and flooding under hurricane wind loads.
  • Make sure all operable windows and doors are fully closed and secured.
  • Move interior furnishings to higher levels and away from windows to reduce risk of damage to building contents.

AFTER

  • Safety first: high winds, and flood water on roofs or against exterior walls can impose loading greater than for which the building was designed. If flooding occurs, have the building reviewed by a structural engineer prior to reoccupying the building.
  • Plug the holes: Review the building enclosure for damage and install tarps and other temporary measures as necessary to prevent further water penetration and further damage.
  • Dry it out: Water and flood damaged materials pose a significant health risk. Removing water and wet materials, as well as installing fans to circulate air and promote drying is key to preventing further post-hurricane deterioration and damage.
  • Learn for next time: Hurricanes will expose any weaknesses in the building enclosure. Repairs are an excellent opportunity to apply lessons learned and “harden” the building to be better prepared for the next storm.

Structural and post-hurricane condition reviews should be performed by a qualified and well-trained professional. Be safe during the storm and proactively manage your risks past this historic natural event. If you or your clients are taking other steps to mitigate risk and to protect your buildings during extreme weather events, please leave a comment for the benefit of other building owners.

Walter P Moore is proud to be acting as a trusted advisor during this time of crisis. Please give us a call if we can assist. I can be reached at cnorris@walterpmoore.com or 678-446-5246.