Weathering the Storm: How Does One Secure Their Home vs. Hurricane?

jdarksunjdarksun StrugglerRegistered User regular
I'm going to have 24-48 hours of Hurricane Sandy parked on top of my house. I live in an area that has never been hit by a hurricane, so I'm expecting some damage.

How can I best avoid that?

Things that I've already done:
* Checklist of outdoor items that need to be moved inside (flag, grill, deck chairs, potted plants, etc).
* Emergency survival gear. I have food and water for my family and our dog for 2+ days.
* Talked to my homeowners insurance provider (any damage is covered).
* I don't live in an area prone to flooding.
* I expect to be without power for a day or three, and rented a generator to keep the stuff in the freezer from going bad.

Things that I would appreciate advice on:
* I have no idea how strong 80 mph winds are. Should I be boarding up my windows?
* I'm familiar with the basic use of the generator, but I can't run the thing in the damn rain. How hardcore of a shelter should I construct around it? Would putting it under my (semi-enclosed) deck and stapling a tarp above it be OK, or is the wind going to be strong enough that it needs a more enclosed shelter?

Anything else I should know? I can provide more details or pictures of my house if that would help.

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  • LadyDustBunnyLadyDustBunny Registered User regular
    <--- hurricane Katrina survivor, here!

    Sounds like you're on the right track so far.

    I can't really help about the generator, as I have pretty much no knowledge of how those things work. I can ask my husband in the morning.
    I would probably board up my windows more for the idea of flying debris. I know that we usually check outside to make sure any objects that could fly in the wind are removed or secured. (ie. tree branches, trashcans, etc).

    Obviously, make sure you have lots of water. Ummmm, trying to think of any other key things....

    If you want to be hardcore survivalist, get an axe, haha. I know a lot of people who got flooded and had to use axes to chop their way out attics and such, but you most likely don't live well below sea level....sooooo...maybe that's just the paranoia in me.

    If I think of anything else, I'll let you know!!

    Stay safe!

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I'm not really sure where you are, but from the looks of things at this very moment in time the hurricane is really not going to make landfall as a Cat 1.. by the time it gets in it will be downgraded to a tropical storm. That means the winds will be high, but not 80mph-high, and the further inland you are, the less they'll be. You are much more likely to see flood damage than have all your shit wrecked by wind unless you have some iffy or dead trees right next to your house. If you don't live on a floodplane or near a river you'll probably be fine.

    You may lose power, but it's not the apocalypse, and if you do lose power don't open your fridge or freezer, or do so as little as possible to keep the food in there cold for as long as possible.

    It would help to know your approximate location, because as of right now there's nowhere on the map that's going to end up with winds much higher than 50mph except maybe the coast of Maryland, and all that's going to do is bend some trees, break some branches, and probably take out the power.

    Also keep in mind that even the forecast for THAT is a few days out, and the whole thing could still be downgraded to a little grey rain cloud or blow out to sea altogether. Try to relax.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • jdarksunjdarksun Struggler Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    It would help to know your approximate location, because as of right now there's nowhere on the map that's going to end up with winds much higher than 50mph except maybe the coast of Maryland, and all that's going to do is bend some trees, break some branches, and probably take out the power.
    I live here, more or less. Call it 60 miles from the coast.
    ceres wrote: »
    Try to relax.
    Last June's Derecho? Didn't blink.
    2010's blizzard? Shoveled ~20-30" of snow off my car, went back inside and hung out with my four month old.
    2003's blizzard? Drove through it.

    Hurricane supposed to blow through? I take a day off from work to do disaster planning and track down a generator. I guess wind freaks me out.

  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited October 2012
    Where do you live?

    Most of the time in the northeast, the biggest dangers with hurricanes (which is being generous, since most of the time by the time they get there they're cat 1 or lower) have less to do with flying debris going through windows, and more to do with trees / limbs falling. When I grew up & lived in NY, the biggest immediate dangers were always trees (which in NY/etc can be decently old and large) falling over onto cars / houses / etc, which can cause serious damage (like, completely crush a car or rip through the roof and smash a bedroom damage). And obviously, if a tree rips power lines down, you have live wires running around, which invariably someone tries to drive through / get out of a car while it's touching a live wire (very bad idea).

    Secondarily, because of that, you often have power outages that can take a while to fix, since you can have entire telephone poles taken down... one big storm probably 15 years ago, a tree fell in front of our house that knocked 3 consecutive telephone poles out of the ground and onto the street. That one was a mess - between that and another few big trees in the neighborhood, it was close to a week before we got power back. If you never have hurricanes, this might be what I'd be most worried about - if there are trees with decently sized dead limbs that haven't every really had a good wind shake them lose, it could cause a lot of them to fall (but most likely fall, not be flung cyclone-like through the neighborhood).

    Re: flood damage, you're unlikely to have katrina-style "your entire house is under 5 ft of water" flooding, but a big storm like this will teach you exactly what the issues are around your house... for example, our driveway sloped downwards in a poor way, and didn't have good drainage at the bottom of the slope (where it met the grass). Which was fine for a long time, but in a really big storm we had a ton of water pooling in some side window-boxes that wound up leaking water into the basement (not "flood" in the dangerous sense, but flooding in the 'we'd better move some stuff and if we don't figure out a way to slow it down the rug will have to get replaced" sense). If you're reasonably up in elevation, I'd say just keep an eye out for damp spots (especially around the edges of a basement, but really any ceilings/walls).

    This one looks like it may hang around for a long time, so food & bottled water/etc for a few days would definitely be a good idea... I have zero idea how to run a generator, so I can't give you any advice there. I'd also say make sure you have a good stock of flashlights & batteries (and have a flashlight handy when you go to bed if you lose power in the middle of the night), some candles (if you're going to be sitting in one place for a while), that kind of thing. I've quite honestly never seen people where I lived in NY (long island) board windows up, since we never saw the kinds of winds that would actually hurl something with enough force to break one. Maybe a few times people duct taped their windows (on the off chance that something happened to help prevent shattering), but never the nailing boards in type.

    Gdiguy on
  • BuzzwordsBuzzwords Registered User regular
    definitely take a look around for widowmakers (bigass dead trees or treelimbs liable to fall) clear them out, but bear in mind a healthy branch can bend a lot, so don't just go chainsaw rampaging everything.

    a lot of generators can operate wet, but i suppose it depends on what you got. many are meant to power jobsites and such under semi-adverse conditions. rain isn't gonna hurt them. see if it has doors over the outlets. if it does the manufacturer prolly planned for it to get rained on. if it doesn't then yah you may wanna worry about keeping it dry (if for no reason other than preventing a short at the outlet)

    consider a small pump for your basement. a tiny leak combined with 3 days of heavy rain can ruin your shit. if you have a washing machine in the basement, it's hooked up to a drain. you can have the pump let out there.

    get lots of batteries for flashlights, and a small flashlight for everyone in the house. mostly cheap-o's are fine, but consider something good for yourself if you need to venture outside at night to gas up the generator before bed. (the bigger maglites can turn night into day)

    then of course gas for the generator.

    also consider a battery powered lamp for an ambient light. candles can work here too but my thinking, especially nowadays, is why bother? because batteries run out? well candles burn out? they can also light your drapes on fire if your kids or your dog bumps a table. if you're worried about running out of batteries, buy more batteries... also LED lamps and flashlights are very battery efficient.

    you seem to have food and water covered, good. it's not food that needs cooking though right? if it is, will your stove work with the power out? mine doesn't :( can that generator run your refrigerator AND your stove? (2 very high drain appliances)

    and get a deck of cards or some books or some board games or something. i've personally lost power for 4 consecutive days and nearly blew my brains out from boredom.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Okay yeah, you're in a similar situation I am right now. The thing's already lost enough steam that we'll see tropical storm winds, so like Buzzwords said, that's mainly falling/blowing branch territory. It's still scary to sit through, but especially if you don't have big trees next to your house your much bigger issue is going to be the water, and if you can keep that out of your house you're good. Be ready for a long power outage, though, if the wires in your area aren't great. We were without power for 5 days last year (the wiring in our area is kind of shit), and that was a worse storm than we're slated to see at this point.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    Herndon should be good. However, power outages probably can be expected and lots of rain combined with lots of wind blown debris can result in some freaky flooding in unexpected places.

    Remember this:
    The Reston Park and Ride flooding

    I would keep an eye on this site to see how the storm is progressing in relation to us:
    Capital Weather Gang

    Jason Samenow (from that site) was on 101.1 Friday morning and said biggest threat is power outages since high winds combined with heavy tree limbs (since they are still full of leaves) is going to result in a bunch of falling limbs. Think about it this way, every time we have a storm lately there have been widespread massive power outages so you are thinking striaght with that generator.

    Also, big portions of the area tend to lose stop lights when the power goes out . Especially Fairfax County Parkway. So even after the storm subsides be careful driving. Also look for downed power lines. In the 2003 hurricane, the way between Gainsville and Warranton was completely covered in downed powerlines and trees.

  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    This was on the front page of Reddit, seems like it's got some good advice.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/LifeProTips/comments/1259qw/lpt_hurricane_preparedness_fill_bathtubs_with/c6se2ur

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  • jdarksunjdarksun Struggler Registered User regular
    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I have ~15 gallons of water for my family (myself, my wife, our two year old, and our dog), plenty of food and water, and emergency supplies. Should be fine for a week.

    According to the latest info:
    ...wind gusts over 45 mph are expected by 8 am Monday and wind gusts of 60 to 65 mph are expected Monday afternoon into Tuesday.

    I identified a couple big trees that could pose an issue to the house (here and here, same side of the house, different angles). The trees look healthy enough to the untrained eye. There are a couple other trees that could fall on the garage, but I didn't upload those pictures yet.

    The other question I have is about some stuff under the extension / deck area (picture). It's loose lumber, some wooden lattice pieces. It's partially concealed (via more lattice), but do I need to worry about that stuff being flung around (namely, into that window right there)? Should I weigh it down with a tarp / cinderblocks, or move it into a structure?

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Bring in anything loose. It's better to just have it inside somewhere than risk it blowing around and going through someone's window.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    Bring in anything loose. It's better to just have it inside somewhere than risk it blowing around and going through someone's window.

    Pretty much this. Anything that's not enclosed or weighted/tied down is going to become a missile of extreme destruction if the wind can get under it. If you have to, put it in the garage.

    Take the chance to get full charges on everything portable- especially if you have a portable way to watch DVDs/play video games. Just having something to listen to can help pass the time, and some cartoons and such will be a godsend in helping the two-year-old deal by getting his mind off it.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Interestingly, things have changed in my area since my earlier posts in the thread, and we're now supposed to see the full force of the storm with the eye passing directly overhead. Bit of a change for us from a day or two ago.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • MaguanoMaguano Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    good luck @jdarkson, @ceres and every other east coaster. i live about here in NJ, and have about 9 fifty foot oak trees around my house. yeah, i wont be sleeping much these next couple days (my wife will have our 2 kids in the room with her, and i get the couch (with my rain gear and boots next to it, ready to go). Oh to prepare (but i guess it too late for most prep) Freeze as much water as you can to keep stuff cold. eat fresh food first, umm, use you your car to charge the cell phone. (that reddit link has great info)

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  • honkymcgoohonkymcgoo Registered User regular
    This is something I never thought about until my house got all kinds of crazy damage from it, but if any part of your yard is landscaped with pebbles or gravel you need to stake down a tarp over it.

    I learned the hard way that during a storm with strong enough winds those just turn into tiny little bullets.

    Like everyone else said, you probably won't even have to worry about that since it should have died down more or less by the time it gets to you. But something to be aware of. I have lived on the coast of various hurricane prone states for basically my whole life and I never even considered it.

    I didn't even know what the fuck and avitar was until about 5 minutes ago.
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    I wouldn't say "don't worry." I'd say "don't panic," but anyone in the path should be somewhat worried and plan appropriately.

    Hell, I'm in Vermont and they're still forecasting wind gusts up to 75mph for us.

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  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    Buzzwords wrote: »
    also consider a battery powered lamp for an ambient light. candles can work here too but my thinking, especially nowadays, is why bother? because batteries run out? well candles burn out? they can also light your drapes on fire if your kids or your dog bumps a table. if you're worried about running out of batteries, buy more batteries... also LED lamps and flashlights are very battery efficient.

    You're right, according to this website way more people are killed by candle-related house fires in the days after a hurricane than during the hurricane itself.

  • Dr_KeenbeanDr_Keenbean Dumb as a butt Planet Express ShipRegistered User regular
    edited October 2012
    I am on a peninsula in the Chesapeake. This shit is gong to be so rad.

    You sound like you have your shit together. I think the worst thing we're going to have to deal with is boredom caused by power outages.

    EDIT: I almost forgot! Don't forget birth control! I foresee a significant population boom for the east coast in about 10 months.

    Dr_Keenbean on
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  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    honkymcgoo wrote: »
    Like everyone else said, you probably won't even have to worry about that since it should have died down more or less by the time it gets to you. But something to be aware of. I have lived on the coast of various hurricane prone states for basically my whole life and I never even considered it.

    It's not going to die down by the time it gets to him, at 3pm tomorrow it will start with 35-50 mph sustained winds gusting up to the 70 range with 6-10" total rain for 12 hours or so. That does damage in this part of VA because we never updated our electrical grid especially where he lives.

    useless4 on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Oh he's gonna lose power, no doubt about that.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Psychotic OnePsychotic One The Lord of No Pants Parts UnknownRegistered User regular
    At a bare minimum i'd say line the inside of your windows with Cardboard and secure with duct tape. That way if they do break they are sealed off and will prevent glass from flying across the room. But this would only be if you are really worried about being hurt by your windows potentially breaking/bursting.

    Other wise I think your supplies you've listed should be sufficient for lasting out the storm and once it passes things should hopefully take a semblance of normality unless you are in an area that gets hit crazy hard.

  • jdarksunjdarksun Struggler Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    ceres wrote: »
    Interestingly, things have changed in my area since my earlier posts in the thread, and we're now supposed to see the full force of the storm with the eye passing directly overhead. Bit of a change for us from a day or two ago.
    Yeah, the next 24-36 hours are going to be interesting. Especially since the people in my neighborhood have done things like leave ceramic pumpkins outside.

    Good luck to everybody in and around the storm!

    jdarksun on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah, my neighbor has Halloween decorations out. If they blow through my norman window (which is facing him) I will not be pleased.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Do they have mass behind them? If they're plastic or cardboard the chances of it breaking your window are pretty slim.

    I'd be more worried about things like garbage cans or mailboxes.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Some of them are plastic, and that's fine. But he's got fake grave stones and stuff which I have no idea about. Whatever they are, hopefully he takes them in.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Those are usually cardboard/foam unless he's hand made them or is really wealthy or something, you should be good I think.

    If it were me I'd just mention it, hurricanes coming, love the decorations, it'd be a shame if something happened to them.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    Other folks on our street are leaving trash cans out. No idea why you wouldn't just put out the bags and not worry about cans today. Whatever...

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  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    People here have put out the trash cans too... hope they get them before the wind kicks up. The news keeps saying to go get your decorations and bring them in but no one here has either. Looks like DC is going to actually get a little worse then we originally expected. stay dry!

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah I don't think trash is getting picked up today. :P

    He actually did pick up his stuff and bring it in.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    bowen
  • jdarksunjdarksun Struggler Registered User regular
    Shadowfire wrote: »
    Other folks on our street are leaving trash cans out. No idea why you wouldn't just put out the bags and not worry about cans today. Whatever...
    My trash stinks, so I'm leaving it outside until the wind picks up. I can see it out the window, so if it falls over I'll just bring it in.

    The trash pickup web site says that service is still active today. ;D

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    My trash goes tomorrow. I have no hope that they will actually come for it. :/

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • Dr_KeenbeanDr_Keenbean Dumb as a butt Planet Express ShipRegistered User regular
    I'm looking at some radar stuff and I am right in the shit. I was expecting more than fairly tame rain and slightly wobbly trees.

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  • useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    Remember it hasn't hit yet, these are just precusor rain bands. It will be a more wind then rain event they are saying.

  • jdarksunjdarksun Struggler Registered User regular
    edited October 2012
    The wind is starting to pick up here. I think they were saying that the nasty stuff will start in ~45 min.

    Edit: Now they're saying late Monday night through mid morning Tuesday. Woo.

    jdarksun on
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Frankenstorm is starting to muck up the grounds at work. Damn storm drains are backed up. Oh well time to do the rounds and make sure that the roof isn't flooding.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    we are getting some heavy rains out in Pitt with some good wind a blowing. brought the last of the yard stuff in tonight as it is supposed to get worse and colder. i was worried for a bit, our furnace fan stopped working and we had no heat, but that got fixed and our heat is better than ever

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  • jdarksunjdarksun Struggler Registered User regular
    No power loss, no visible flood damage, no visible wind damage, no down trees. I guess El Derecho pruned all the weak stuff back in June.

  • WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    Oh wow, you're near me.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the trees v power thing - the delay is that they can't fix anything till its over and that means Wednesday at the earliest.

    Dominion got read the riot act the last time we had the big outage for that crazy thunderstorm...so they went out and did a lot of repairs and needed upgrades since then.
    Add to the auto-pruning of the trees involved with that and we've got a really good power grid.

    Dominion powers tag line is something like, "We aren't Pepco".

    Biggest thing to watch for is your basement..check every room and each corner..look for any dampness. I've got a laundry room full of towels down now for this reason. Basements flood first..once the soil can't hold any more water, its gotta go somewhere....so watch for it.

  • AkilaeAkilae Registered User regular
    Now that the worse is over, is it alright if I piggyback onto this on dealing with the aftermath?

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    We ended up with a nasty storm, but I guess all our huge dead branches came down with Irene last year, so we got very lucky with the power in this area. My parents do live on a flood plane, but I think they're actually sitting on a giant sponge and other than the ground squelching they didn't see anything that would damage their house.

    Akilae, if you have a specific issue you can make your own thread. :P It's better anyway, answers won't get lost in this conversation.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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