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12 tips to prepare for the next hurricane

For the most part, those of us living in New Brunswick escaped the wrath of Hurricane Dorian – but as images and video from Nova Scotia show, the power of a hurricane is immense.

And New Brunswick will be hit: it’s not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when” a hurricane will hit us. The lesson? Prepare now.

Hurricanes cause damage in two key ways: high winds and flooding/storm surges.
Here’s what our inspectors suggest as things to do in forthcoming renovations or new builds to better weather a hurricane.

1) Use hurricane ties to secure rafters/trusses to roof plates. This is easy to do in a new build, not so easy to do in a renovation setting.

A hurricane clip used in this outdoor deck roof. Exposed roofs (carports, verandas) are susceptible to wind uplift, so going with hurricane ties is a wise way to help mitigate the threat of wind damage.

2) Specify heel or drop-chord trusses in new builds. This allows for exterior sheathing to help tie rafters to the rest of the building

3) Over-use eaves protection membrane. In many cases, the combination of high winds and intense rainfall causes water to be wind-driven in places it normally doesn’t go. Alternately, roofs are exposed to rain after the winds remove shingles. Flashing roof joints with ice and water shield membrane, even when not called for by Code, can help reduce water damage.

4) Avoid gable roofs. Though popular, gable roofs present a face to wind that other roofing systems (hip style, in particular) do not.

5) Plan for strong wind and rain by pre-building a blocking system for roofs vented using an end-gable vent.

6) When using soffit-and-peak venting, only provide as much soffit venting as required by Code, to reduce wind intrusion into attics

7) Over-nail roof sheathing to truss/rafter members. Codes for U.S. areas subjected to high wind mandate nailing every six inches on all truss members, not just at sheathing joints.

8) Avoid staples for fastening asphalt shingles. Areas of the U.S. exposed to hurricanes mandate roofing nails, because they perform better in high-wind situations.

9) Build so that valuable portions of a home will be above flood levels.

10) For homes in areas subject to flooding, raise them using concrete walls that have “vents” at the sides to allow for easy infiltration and outflow of flood waters.

An illustration on best practice for building in anticipation of flooding. The lower portion, shown here, is built with concrete or concrete block, extending to 1 metre above expected worse-case flood level.

11) Install a backflow prevention valve.

A backflow prevention valve: for less than $100, this simple device can help reduce flood damage from backed-up sewers

12) Place outbuildings on concrete slabs or other footings.

These tips are taken from our “preparing for climate change” pamphlet, or a more comprehensive “preparing for climate change – a guide for builders” available for free at our offices.