The scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center have predicted that the 2016 hurricane season will be more active than in the last three years. We have learned from experience that hurricanes can be quite unpredictable, causing widespread damage to many vulnerable areas, and are not limited strictly to coastal regions. Depending on the ultimate path and intensity of a storm when it makes landfall, hurricane‐force winds can cause loss of power, flooding, and damaged or destroyed roofs, doors, windows and wall systems. This could lead to substantial interior and or structural damages to buildings. These storm-related building failures can cause unanticipated shutdowns of educational, institutional and commercial sectors within a community.

The following preventive measures may help avoid or reduce catastrophic harm to your building’s components and systems, and improve the chances of your facilities maintaining functionality in the event of a hurricane:

Reliable Backup Power & Resources. Stockpile resources, such as generators, batteries (alkaline, rechargeable, car, solar voltaic, etc.), a reliable supply of fuel, water, flashlights, radios, portable televisions, power inverters, roof repair materials, removable shutters, tarps and any other essential items in a secure location where they can be quickly retrieved after the storm.

Protect the Roof. Inspect the entire roof thoroughly before storm season. Secure areas of displaced membrane or perimeter flashings by installing additional anchors, especially in older buildings that have not been designed to meet current wind code requirements. Install additional fasteners or screw anchors with washers on the face of the edge metal or coping face flanges, with the highest priority being at corner zones and about 24‐in. on‐center in the perimeters. Add mechanical fasteners to membranes in vulnerable perimeter areas where adhesion of the roof system is suspect.

Mitigate Stormwater and Flooding Concerns. Remove debris or loose materials that could clog drains, gutters, downspouts and scuppers to maintain free flow of water.  Relocate or reposition critical materials, such as scientific experiments, records and archives, key computers, etc., away from areas that may be prone to flooding.

Secure Roof Appurtenances and Accessories. Basically, anything that is anchored to a roof needs to stay there. Reinforce or secure air‐conditioning equipment and fans to the roof using additional screw fasteners and/or straps. Add metal or even nylon straps at strategic locations to help reinforce the ducts and provide supplemental anchorage down to supports.

Safeguard the Building Enclosure. Minimize potential damage from windborne debris and to the building’s exterior by using storm shutters (preferred method), plywood panels, steel deck material or lightweight corrugated plastic materials to protect windows, doors and louvers (wall openings). Window films applied to the inside of the glass can provide a level of protection, but its use should be limited to upper floors, as films are generally not tested for large projectile resistance. Secure or bring in light-weight objects, such as garbage cans, tools or furnishings that may become projectiles during a storm.

Implement a Facility Survival Plan. Creating a plan before the storm will help you to quickly mobilize and make necessary repairs to restore operations as soon as possible. Below are some important steps to consider:

  • Establish a base of operations from which to coordinate recovery and repair efforts.
  • Develop a contingency plan that focuses on readiness, including manpower, equipment and materials needed immediately after the storm.
  • Organize a recovery team by assigning repair tasks to specific individuals or contractors prior to the emergency. Include team member phone numbers and email, as well as team staging and assembly locations. For each roof or wall assembly, specify materials, protocols and personnel responsible to address problems. Use a chart or calendar to establish a timeline for required repairs. A repair manual will also be helpful and allow for consistent quality standards during the recovery operation.  Roof and wall repairs should be completed by a contractor knowledgeable about proper flashing techniques and materials.
  • Develop a primary and backup communication protocol with post-event procedures for on-call constructors, consultants or other entities to expedite emergency assessments, evaluations and repairs; to temporarily relocate assets or functions; and for potential transportation needs.
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