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Columns : Hurricane Preparedness - R. Tarzwell Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Future Hurricane Preparation Plans
By Robert Tarzwell
Nov 19, 2006 - 12:06:37 PM

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	Future Hurricane Preparation Plans 

We seem to have missed any hurricane action this year, due to a change in the jet stream and a favorable la Nina wind pattern. So, what did you do this year to better prepare for the next hurricane? Did you get plywood and nails and store them away? Did you put away more food and water? There is always more that you can do with regards to getting your home or business stronger so that it can better survive the next big blow.


The first inexpensive item that you can have done is to glue your roof plywood to the truss, from the inside. By applying liquid nail construction glue to both sides of the truss and plywood joint, you are greatly increasing the strength of the roof. When hurricane winds rage around your house, it tends to survive as long as the roof and windows remain intact. Should any part of the roof start to rip away, the rest will soon follow. The weakest part is the fascia board (the 1x6 front board), followed by the soffit area (the wood or plastic under the overhang of the roof). Have a contractor add long screws through the fascia board into the truss. While he is working on the fascia board, have him inspect it for rot or termite damage. The soffit should also have additional screws added to increase its strength as well. If you have to replace the shingles or roof tiles, have the contractor install screws between the nails on the plywood Nails are just not strong enough to hold the roofing material in a big hurricane.


Remember, your single best hurricane protection is shutters. They protect your family against wind blown debris as well as stop the wind from entering the house and lifting the roof off from the inside. Plywood shutters are ok in a category 3 or less hurricane, but can fail in a category 4 or 5 storm. If you can afford them, I recommend aluminum shutters for better protection.


Hopefully, during this year’s lack of hurricanes, our hard working emergency planning people have reviewed and improved their planning for management of a big hurricane. If hurricane Katrina did any good, it was to teach us that better planning, less rules and more compassion towards all people, works best in an emergency.


We, on Grand Bahama Island, have a special problem that is of major concern. We have no practical method to evacuate the population quickly enough. If a really big hurricane is approaching, our island has many areas that are not high enough above sea level to properly protect the inhabitants against sea surge. This also means that many of the designated hurricane shelters, which are safe in a category 3 or less, are not usable because they are situated at too low an elevation. It is not practical to try to evacuate 50,000 people in less than one week off Grand Bahama, and typically, you only get one to two days notice that a big hurricane will hit. Think of 50,000 people leaving by airplane at 200 persons each; that’s 250 airplanes trying to load and fly out. Imagine the chaos at the airport if everyone was there. Even if we tried to use cruise ships at 3000 people per cruise ship, it is still 16 big ships all trying to dock, load and leave in one or two days. To this numbers problem, add the fact that airplanes and cruise ships don’t want to be anywhere near a big approaching hurricane.


Obviously, because we cannot easily evacuate, we need to build higher and stronger. In a recent trip to West End, I saw many homes are now being built up on concrete stilts, which shows we are all learning.




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