Lessons Learned From Tropical Depression Hanna Sept 2008


TD Hanna gave us the opportunity to take a look at our readiness and what it would take in effort to prepare for a hurricane.We can use this experience to improve our planning to be better prepared for the next event that nature sends our way.Here are my basic observations for you to consider:


1.†††††††† Evacuate or not. A recent Harvard University study found that more than 23% will not evacuate their home even if ordered to do so in the face of a major hurricane.Respondentís concerns were about getting trapped on the evac route and security for their property.It is difficult to argue emotional decisions that each of us might make, but a problem arises in knowing who has left and who has remained behind.It would be tragic to get hurt or killed trying to dig a neighbor out of the rubble of their home only to find out that they have already left without telling anyone.Or, to have a close neighbor succumb to injuries unnoticed when neighbors thought that person had left.


Recommendations. Block Captains and neighbors could receive and coordinate information before the storm of who has left.This information could be passed in person or recorded at a central point in a secure manner on an answering machine.


2.†††††††† Structural weak points.As the wind blew outside, I watched from inside the garage to see how the door moved and where the probable failure points would be.The door moved in and out approximately one inch with the slop in the roller wheels and tract allowing a twisting action.During Floridaís Hurricane Andrew, 85% of the homes that were destroyed had their garage doors blown first either in or sucked out, which then allowed the wind to damage the garage walls and ceiling.Once the garage door failed, the homes were compromised.I was surprised that I had that much roller/track movement even with heavy duty tracks and new rollers.I did not think the predicted strength of the storm required installing the brace bars.


Recommendations.Install stronger tracks and rollers.Reinforce the garage door by placing vertical bracing in the front and behind the door using 2x4 lumber studs and strong tie metal brackets.(Check out FEMA Home Hurricane Retrofits).A typical two car garage door can be reinforced with 4 studs, two inside and two outside connected to temporary metal footers and header plates inside and outside for less than $100 dollars if you do it yourself.Door tracks and rollers should be done by a professional door company and will cost a couple hundred dollars.Even with improved tracks and rollers, door reinforcing with wood studs and brackets is strongly recommended.


3.†††††††† Yard Trees.Dead limbs in your trees and limbs overhanging your house invite roof damage so it is better to get them removed before a storm.As you survey your yard after the storm, ever look up and see what could be potentially be your last view if that limb were to come down on you.Lumberjacks have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, so let your tree service do the dangerous stuff well before the next storm.


Recommendations.†† After the winter ice storms, have a good tree service remove dead limbs and those limbs overhanging your roof from your trees.Your insurance company will appreciate it and you will not have to pay a large deductible for the damage claim.


4.†††††††† Power outage.Again, most of us lost power during the storm, but fortunately, it was for a short period.As the power service struggles to stay connected and online, there is a potential for a power surge or power drop which can damage your computers and appliances which have computers.During a storm, if it looks like the power will be lost, turn off your air conditioning unit and turn off the stove at the fuse box.Unplug your computer power supply if they are connected to house power.


Recommendations.If your house lights start to flicker, turn off your a/c system, turn off the stove at the fuse box and unplug your computer power supply.If you are leaving the area ahead of the storm, do the same.


5.†††††††† Water supplyMany people went out and spent money buying bottled water when they had 60 gallons available in their water heater.If for some reason the cityís water supply was lost or compromised, you can turn off the main feed line to your house at the curb by the water meter.Then, you can draw drinking water from your water heater.MAKE SURE THAT YOU TURN OFF THE WATER HEATER BEFORE YOU DRAIN FROM IT, OR YOU WILL DAMAGE IT. You should flush your water heater every year to remove sediment at the bottom of your tank where you would be drawing your water.Red Cross and most recommend storing 1 gallon of water per person/pet for three days.I recommend enough water for 7 days per person and pet


Recommendation.Check out the procedures for getting water from your water heater and donít forget to flush the water heater in the spring to remove sediments in the bottom section of your tank.


6.†††††††† Storm bracing Check the security of your outside heat pumps and the water heater in your garage.It does not take much to brace them in place and it can prevent much expense and misery if they should get blown around and damaged in a good storm.


Recommendation.Install metal brackets on your outside heat pumps and garage water heaters.


If any residents have any lessons learned from this TD test and you want to share, I would appreciate hearing from you.

I hope this information is of service.Our Cape Henry Shores Hurricane Plan is available on the website or by giving me a call (481-1668).




David Williams

CHSCA Emergency Coordinator