Hurricane Damage

Quick Summary

Hurricanes can ravage communities, as these formidable storms bring high winds, heavy rains and floodwaters that put homes to the ultimate test of endurance. While the devastation of hurricanes can feel overwhelming, storm damage experts can help you recover.

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Hurricane Damage Effects

hurricane-satellite-imageHurricanes are powerful, rotating storms with heavy rain and winds of over 75 mph.

They start in the ocean, gaining power from the warm ocean air, and can have a devastating impact on landfall.

Hurricanes immediately threaten the lives of those in their path, and damage can destroy property, ruin homes and displace residents. 

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina was responsible for 1,836 deaths and an estimated $161 Billion in damage. Hurricane winds battered the area, while the levees protecting New Orleans, Louisiana, failed against the storm surge. The city was underwater. It took years to recover from Hurricane Katrina’s damage.

Most recently, Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane and decimated Southwest Florida with its immense storm surge and high winds

According to the National Hurricane Center, the worst hurricane in United States history was the Galveston hurricane in 1990, which claimed over 8,000 lives.

Hurricanes are marked by forceful winds, heavy rainfall and sudden storm surges. As a result, hurricanes can cause immediate damage to homes, commercial properties, and other structures. Houses hit by a hurricane may have roof damage and broken windows and doors, flooding and water damage

Roof Damage

Hurricanes can rip shingles, boards and insulation off roofs, quickly exposing your home to the elements. Mild roof damage from hurricanes can result in leaks, while significant damage may leave gaping holes in your home.

Hurricane roof damage should be repaired as quickly as possible to prevent additional destruction to your home’s interior. Structural damage, pests, wet or windy weather, mold and bacteria can make roof damage worse over time.

Some roof damage can be prevented by ensuring your roof is maintained correctly. Worn or broken shingles should always be repaired, while the entire roof needs to be replaced when it ages.

Broken Windows and Doors

Even with storm preparations, it’s common for hurricanes to result in broken windows and doors. During hurricane season, broken wood and glass become projectiles that can hurt people in the vicinity. 

After the hurricane, broken windows and doors make homes vulnerable to the elements. Water, wind and pests can quickly enter your home, causing additional damage until the windows and doors are repaired.

If you live in New York, Miami, North Carolina or any other hurricane-prone region, it’s important to take proper preventive measures. Storm shutters and wooden boards can help prevent damage when you know a storm is coming. Secure and lock your windows and doors and reinforce these weak spots in your home.

Flooding and Water Damage

Flooding and water damage are common problems after a hurricane, especially if a home has sustained roof damage, door damage or window damage. These vulnerabilities allow water to seep into your home, causing immediate and long-lasting damage to your property and belongings.

Floodwater can also carry toxins or contaminants, such as pesticides or waste. It’s essential to stay out of any standing floodwater whenever possible and thoroughly clean your skin if you do come into contact with it.

You can prevent some flooding and hurricane water damage by reinforcing your roof, windows and doors, sealing any cracks in your foundation, installing a sump pump, and building above flood and sea level. Unfortunately, your home will still be at the mercy of storm surges reaching over 30 feet.

Hurricane Damage Restoration Process

The aftermath of a hurricane can be upsetting, but it’s important to begin the restoration process as soon as possible to minimize the hurricane damage to your home. You may need to hire a hurricane damage restoration company to help you repair and restore your home. These experts take the following steps to secure and restore your residence.

Step 1: Safety

Your safety always comes first. Before leaving a hurricane shelter, confirm with your local authorities that the area is safe. Once your neighborhood is deemed safe, be on the lookout for standing water, downed power lines, broken glass and wood and other hazards that can harm your well-being. 

Step 2: Call A Storm Damage Restoration Company

Next, you should call a storm damage restoration company, if required. Major hurricanes damage numerous homes in a single area, and you will want to hire a reputable, experienced company as quickly as possible.

Depending on the level of property damage, you may need to call other professionals as well, including roofers, plumbers or electricians. You should work closely with the restoration company to determine what services they do and don’t provide. 

Step 3: Insurance Preparation

While you wait for the restoration team to arrive, document the damage for your insurance company. Take photos of the hurricane’s damage to your home and write down a list of everything that has been ruined. You should also call your insurance company directly to confirm your policy coverage.

Step 4: Home Repair & Restoration

The hurricane damage restoration company will come to your home and assess the damage. These restoration experts will put together a strategy for returning your home to its former state and will give you estimates on the time and costs involved. They will also advise on whether your family needs to vacate your home temporarily.

Preventing Hurricane Damage

One of the best ways to protect your home from a hurricane is to prevent its damaging effects in the first place. 

Immediately before a hurricane, there are actions you can take to help minimize storm damage:

  • Install storm shutters or board up windows and doors
  • Secure garage, gate, and house doors
  • Trim trees and shrubs
  • Bring in outdoor furniture, decorations and toys
  • Move cars away from trees and power lines
  • Clear out gutters and drains

Keeping your home up to code will also help you prepare for a hurricane. Over time, these codes have led to the construction of stronger buildings that withstand a hurricane’s sustained winds. These building codes also help the threat of flooding.

Consider hurricanes and other natural disasters when planning renovation projects for your home. By thinking about how a hurricane could damage your home and making thoughtful adjustments, you can make home upgrades that will help protect your family and property in a harrowing storm.

For example, roofs being repaired or replaced need proper sheathing, while end gables must be secured to the roof.  Wherever possible, windows, sliding doors and skylights should be outfitted with impact-resistant glass. You should also ensure your washer and dryer, furnace, water heater, electrical panels, switches and outlets are well above potential floodwaters, as several inches of rain can collect during a hurricane.

Does Home Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

Most home insurance companies will cover some or all of your hurricane house damage. 

However, some homeowners will need to fight to get the coverage they are rightfully entitled to, and a hurricane damage attorney may be required.

Tropical storm damage and flood damage are two separate policies, and it’s not uncommon for Americans to forgo flood insurance. Homeowners insurance tends to cover many scenarios and accidents, but it very rarely covers the damage caused by floods. Fortunately, hurricanes are a common exception.

Many storm insurance companies will try to get out of paying water damages by claiming it was caused by flooding. However, if hurricane wind damage allows water to get into your home, it should be covered by your regular insurance policy.

In many cases, you only need to show that the wind damaged your home, and the water subsequently came through that wind-damaged opening.

Information About Hurricanes

Hurricanes are large, rotating thunderstorm systems with heavy rains and winds. Hurricane wind speeds start at 74 mph and can reach 175 mph, which gives these powerful storms deadly potential. 

Some of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes to hit the United States include:

  • Great Galveston Hurricane (1900) — 8,000+ deaths
  • Hurricane Okeechobee (1928) — 4,075 deaths
  • Hurricane Flora (1963) — 7,193 deaths
  • Hurricane Katrina (2005) — 1,200 deaths 
  • Hurricane Maria (2017) -—3,059 deaths

As a general rule, slower-moving hurricanes cause more damage and destruction than faster hurricanes. For this reason, a lingering Category 4 hurricane can be more devastating than a fast Category 5 storm.

Hurricanes form over the ocean in water above 80 degrees Fahrenheit when several wind conditions align. Winds must come together and force humid air upward, into storm clouds, creating a tropical cyclone that spins because of the Earth’s natural rotation. Hurricanes begin as tropical depressions, forming near the equator and moving across the water until they may eventually make landfall or naturally die down.

Hurricanes vary in size but are approximately 300 miles wide. The eye of the storm is about 20 to 40 miles wide and is considered relatively calm. Meanwhile, the densely clouded eyewall surrounding the eye is extremely dangerous and contains the hurricane’s most powerful winds. 

Particularly hurricane-prone regions in the Atlantic Ocean include the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, as well as the East Coast regions of Florida, New York and New Jersey.

Hurricane Categories

According to the National Weather Service, there are five categories of hurricanes, which help describe the intensity of the storm:

Category 1 Hurricane: Winds of 74-95 mph. Category 1 hurricane damage results from dangerous winds. Typical American frame houses may have damage to their roof, shingles, gutters and vinyl siding. Power lines and poles will be damaged, and power outages are likely to last a few days. 

Example: Hurricane Isaias (2020)

Category 2 Hurricane: Winds of 96-110 mph. Category 2 hurricane damage takes the form of roof and siding damage and uprooted and snapped trees. Most of the area will experience a power outage that lasts days or weeks. 

Example: Hurricane Alex (2010)

Category 3 Hurricane: Winds of 111-129 mph. Category 3 hurricane damage is devastating. Typical American homes may be damaged as roof decking and gable ends are destroyed. Trees are likely to block roads, while electricity and water may be unavailable for days or weeks. 

Example: Hurricane Sandy (2012)

Category 4 Hurricane: Winds of 130-156 mph. Category 4 hurricane damage is marked by severe home damage, including collapsed roofs and walls. Most trees and power poles will be uprooted or destroyed, resulting in power outages that can last for several weeks. Much of the surrounding area will be uninhabitable for weeks. 

Examples: Hurricane Laura (2020), Hurricane Harvey (2017), Hurricane Ian (2022)

Category 5 Hurricane: Winds of 157 mph or higher. Category 5 hurricane damage includes collapsed and destroyed homes, fallen trees and poles and power outages that last weeks or months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for several weeks. 

Examples: Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria (2017), and Hurricane Andrew (1992)

Hiring Hurricane Restoration Professionals

Hurricanes can ruin a community and leave a trail of damage and devastation in their wake. Fortunately, there are hurricane restoration professionals who know how to get families back on their feet after a hurricane hits.

If a hurricane has damaged your home, you need trusted professionals on your site. Whether hiring a roofing contractor, water damage restoration company or other local experts, you deserve the best people to assess, repair and restore your home. 

Get the help you can trust. Find a storm and hurricane damage restoration expert near you.

Water Damage Advisor

The Water Damage Advisor content team is made up of multiple contributors, writers, and editors. We are your resource hub for anything related to water damage, mold and restoration needs that you may be challenged with facing.

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