In a previous article we discussed seven of the most common — and dangerous — myths about hurricanes. We talked about the problems of thinking that all hurricanes are the same and that it’s only coastal areas that are affected. We also discussed the myth about the winds being the most dangerous aspect, when it’s actually overflowing river and other waterways that end up washing most people away. Finally, we dispelled the thought that you should give up on your home and just let insurance handle it; not only can your house be protected with house raising, but doing so can ensure that you don’t have to argue with the insurance company after the hurricane waters recede.
With many of the country’s largest cities being coastal, hurricanes affect millions of people in some form or another every year. And when so many people are all talking about the same thing, urban legends, myths, and dangerous information is going to get around. Because there is so much false information out there, we thought we’d better follow up with a few more myths to dispel.
MYTH: Open Up The Windows
We’ve all heard that you should open up the windows during a tornado in order to “equalize the pressure.” (This has since been extrapolated to include opening the windows during a hurricane.) It turns out that there is very little, if any, scientific evidence to support this. The current idea is that you should simply leave the windows closed in order to keep as much stuff out of your home as possible. Better yet, board up your windows in order to keep the glass safe from flying debris and high winds. During an evacuation order, you’ll feel better knowing that you’ve secured your house as much as possible (you’ll feel even better if you invested in house lifting). If a mandatory evacuation hasn’t been ordered, you’ll be safer with boarded up windows that don’t send glass flying inward.
And speaking of windows…
MYTH: Taping Windows Will Stop Them From Breaking
Sorry, but this simply doesn’t work. We can see where this came from, though: if you tape a window, perhaps it will hold the pieces together to prevent the glass from leaving the frame. This could lead to easier cleanup, we guess, but it won’t prevent them from breaking in the first place. If you’re near the beach and a hurricane is coming, it’s likely that your windows are going to break unless you cover them with heavy plywood.
MYTH: Non-Mobile Mobile Homes Are Safe
Tornadoes aren’t the only natural disaster that mobile homes need to be aware of.
Some trailers, aka manufactured houses, are more secure than others. While every mobile home is connected to electricity and plumbing, some people never intend for them to be moved ever again. They’ll add permanent steps, porches, bushes, lean-tos, and dozens of other items that say “this house isn’t going anywhere.” Hurricanes like to test that statement.
We’re here to tell you that mobile homes are certainly not a safe place to be during a hurricane. While mobile homes might be up on some sort of foundation, it’s not as stable as one that’s holding up a wood or brick house. Mobile homes are more likely to be swept off of their foundation, and even worse their shape makes them more likely to roll when they do as the floodwaters rise. You don’t want to be in it when that happens.
Finally, manufactured houses simply aren’t built as well as a house. A mobile home near the coast is most in danger due to high winds. This means that the siding is more likely to tear off, exposing not only the interior but also electrical systems that are stored in the walls.
What are your options if you live in a mobile home and a hurricane approaches? Keep the radio on and obey any mandatory evacuation orders. You simply aren’t safe being in a mobile home when the floodwaters are rising.
MYTH: Not In My Backyard!
Many people have a belief that, just because a hurricane hasn’t hit them before, a hurricane will never hit them. Somebody in Colorado or Idaho is right; they’re far enough from the coast. But many people who think that they’d never need house raising to get them above a hurricane are simply wrong.
Most of the towns around Houston thought that they were far enough inland that they wouldn’t be affected much by Hurricane Harvey. Even if they had experienced heavy rains during previous hurricanes, they simply weren’t prepared for a storm that dropped the most rain that’s ever fallen on the continental United States. This is once again proof that, while hurricane winds at the coast are certainly dangerous and storm surges can lead to flooding, it’s almost always the flooding caused by rainfall and overflowing waterways that leads to the most damage.
With Hurricane Harvey looking to surpass Katrina as the most destructive hurricane in US history, it’s pretty obvious that most people hadn’t invested in house elevation. In fact, 90% of people around Houston didn’t have flood insurance, proving that you can never predict just how bad a hurricane will be. What we do know is that they’re getting more frequent and more powerful thanks to global warming, which means that people who thought they were safe are being surprised when the drainage ditch hundreds of yards away starts to fill their backyard with rainwater.
Over these previous two blogs, we hope we’ve shone some light on the myths about hurricanes that can be costly. We can’t say that house lifting will guarantee that your home won’t be affected at all by aspects of a hurricane such as high winds, but we can tell you that getting it above base flood elevation (BFE) will keep it safer than any other option out there.
We want you and your home to make it through the floodwaters of the next hurricane. Get the conversation started by contacting TurnKey Contractor Solutions, providing the best in house raising to the people of Texas, Louisiana, and Long Island.