Are Your Properties Prepared for Hurricane Season?

Are Your Properties Prepared for Hurricane Season?

May 5, 2022

Are your properties prepared for hurricane season? / Originally published on LinkedIn by Ray Drexler, PE / Principal and Senior Project Manager with Walter P Moore's Diagnostics Group

It’s that dreaded time of year again: hurricane season.  

From May 1 to November 30, millions of people watch and wait for the National Weather Service to work its way through a list of named storms, hoping their homes and businesses never end up in the Cone of Uncertainty or suffer a direct hit.  

Nearly 30% of the US population—almost 95 million Americans—live in coastline counties according to the US Census. Over 60 million of these people live along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the areas most vulnerable to tropical cyclones. While loss of life is always our greatest concern with hurricanes, the loss of property can be financially and emotionally devastating for these communities too. Between 2000 and 2017, these regions saw 273 named storms, with 13 causing more than $10 billion in damage eachThe next catastrophic storm is not just a possibility; it's inevitable.  

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So how can property owners prepare for another hurricane season?  

We have to consider the two main threat factors of a tropical cyclone: wind and water.  

We hear every year about the miles-per-hour ratings of a storm, from Tropical Depression to Tropical Storm to Hurricanes at Category 1 through 5. These numbers can be terrifying and the images of wind damage from storms like Cat 5 Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Cat 4 Hurricane Ida, hitting just last year, are seared into our collective memory. But what about flooding?  

Flooding is often the more insidious, longer-term threat to our coastal communities. A wall of water inundates thousands of homes, businesses, farms, schools, stores, and roadways. The water can rush back out after the storm, pulling apart buildings and foundations. Or it can stay long after the clouds have cleared, causing decay, rot, and extreme health hazards. Think of Hurricane Katrina in 2005—where it took roughly a month to drain New Orleans—or Hurricane Harvey in 2017, where the flood water saturated Houston communities for days.  

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Over the years, we’ve figured out ways to combat both threats, with wind-ratings for structures and flood prevention programs, among other things. Experts can help property owners, whether commercial or residential, figure out the best ways to mitigate risk for their property portfolios. Just last year, my Walter P Moore colleague Doug Coenen and I put together a white paper outlining exactly what property owners need to know about flood protection.  

While not hurricane specific, this write-up focuses on numerous flood protection approaches and building owner needs as well as providing an in-depth review of the flood protection process. We also look at how to properly determine the flood resiliency of a property in order to provide a clear understanding of risk associated costs.  

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Protecting against flooding is more critical than ever as hurricanes and other major flood-related events are becoming more common, and just before hurricane season is a great opportunity to review your protection strategies. I encourage you to read the full paper or to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns about the flood risks you think you are facing.  

My team can also help you post-flood with damage assessment and emergency services, but we’d rather help you prevent the potential for floodwater damage beforehand.  

Regional Contacts

Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama
Ray Drexler / Jacob Bice / Amanda Istre / Angie O'Flaherty

Florida and Georgia
Randy Beard / Amy Bolton 

South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware
Steve Treser

Northeast
Chris Pinto

Latin America, Caribbean, and Miami
Eladio Guardia 

Mexico
Miguel Hernandez