Strong, high-performing homes can resist the wind and water that come with hurricanes and floods. They suffer less damage, increase safety, save money, reduce or eliminate recovery time, and provide families with peace of mind when disasters threaten.
Storm surge, waves, and rising water are often the most destructive threats to homes in the path of a hurricane. Whether you live near the coast where storm surge is possible, or you are inland where rising waters from heavy rains threaten, it is best to build or buy a home that is elevated above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) or the expected level of flooding established by the FEMA flood maps.
Many steps can minimize flood damage to a home. This animation provides a comprehensive overview, including these examples:
- Anchor fuel tanks
- Elevate appliances inside and outside
- Elevate electrical systems
- Inspect your drains
Hurricanes and High Winds
If you are getting ready to rebuild, remember, it is possible to build a hurricane-resistant home from a variety of materials, including wood, engineered wood, and concrete products like concrete block, insulated concrete forms, cast-in-place concrete, and more. Many materials provide the additional benefits of durability, energy savings, and sustainability, so it’s important to research all options before you begin.
FEMA provides an extensive, free library of information on how to build with disaster in mind. You can also contact your local building official or the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) consumer hotline for free advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or (877) 221-SAFE.
Below are examples of the many steps you can take to make your home #HurricaneStrong.
- Choosing the right roof covering
- Install hurricane shutters
- Securing your garage door
- Strengthen your roof and wall connections
These publications will help your contractor incorporate resilience during rebuilding:
- FEMA Building Science Library (e.g., the Coastal Construction Manual)
- FLASH Resilient Design Guide – High Wind Wood Frame Construction Edition
- FLASH Resilient Design Guide – Concrete Edition
Hiring a Contractor
Choose a contractor that is licensed and insured, and that will provide references upon request. Insist they follow local building codes and take advantage of any opportunities to use beyond-code requirements as they may qualify you for financial discounts and incentives. Remember, building codes are the minimal standards required, so exceeding the code is not only permissible, it is often the better way to rebuild.
Share the above FEMA and FLASH resources with your contractor, discuss your expectations, and require a written estimate before you sign any paperwork or begin your repair or reconstruction project. Check with your state’s consumer protection agency to determine how you can check your contractor’s qualifications and customer satisfaction record.
No matter where you live, the best protection from hurricanes or any natural disaster is to ensure that your home is constructed to meet or exceed current building codes. For decades, post-disaster investigations have validated that homes built to code or beyond code have the best chance of surviving. When you have a strong home that survives the wind and the water from hurricanes, you become resilient in the face of the storm.
For more information visit FLASH.org.