Hurricane Florence: How to prepare to survive

With a Category 4 hurricane predicted to hit the East Coast later this week, this gives us time to work on developing an emergency plan for the future.  Putting this plan together can eliminate some of the stress associated with a storm.  Take a look at the article below to help you develop your emergency plan.
Being ready for a disaster requires more than storing food, water and supplies – having money saved for an emergency is vital, too.

The approaching danger presented by Hurricane Florence and the damage caused by Tropical Storm Gordon serve as reminders that September is the most active month for these kinds of powerful storms.

And yet, FEMA Administrator Brock Long has warned that the United States doesn’t have a “culture of preparedness,’’ even after being hammered in 2017 by Harvey, Irma and Maria, the first time three Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in U.S. territory on the same year.

Long said being ready for a disaster requires more than storing food, water and supplies – having money saved for an emergency is vital, too – but those preventive measures can have a major impact, possibly meaning the difference between life and death.

With hurricanes currently approaching U.S. land from both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, here are several steps residents can take to protect themselves. The information comes from a variety of sources, including the American Red Cross, the National Hurricane Center, and

• Put together an emergency kit: This is the first recommendation of the Red Cross, which lists some of the top essentials as water (a gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days), non-perishable food (also at least three days’ worth), medications and medical supplies, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit and a portable radio.

Personal documents, cell phones with chargers, a can opener and at least one change of clothes also make the list. These necessities can all be assembled well before a hurricane hits.

Also make sure the car’s in working order and with a full tank of gas, the cell phones are charged and the drug prescriptions have been filled.

Keep important documents in a safe, accessible place, with copies of files loaded into a flash drive or into password-protected storage. Consider taking cellphone photos of key documents.

• Board up all windows: Storm shutters provide the best protection, but a solid and less expensive alternative is attaching cut-to-fit plywood over the windows. Don’t fall for the myth that taping windows will protect the glass, as more than half of Americans believe, according to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. That may offer some peace of mind but little else.

Secure doors as well, especially garage doors, which tend to be the most vulnerable.

• Bring in untethered items: Patio furniture and other loose items can become projectiles in strong winds. They should be stored inside. If it’s not safe to do so, as is the case with propane tanks, anchor them. Also, trim trees with branches that could damage the house, clean gutters and downspouts and move cars out of flood-prone areas.

• Have a plan: Be aware of your area’s evacuation route and the location of local shelters. Come up with an emergency plan – accounting for any pets – and share it with the rest of the household. Everyone in the family should know what to do and how to contact each other if they’re away from the house in an emergency. Also share the plan with a friend or relative away from the storm area.

Many shelters don’t accept animals, so people with pets and livestock should look into evacuating them ahead of time to a safe area.

• Be careful when using a portable generator: Though generators can keep the lights on and the refrigerator running during a power outage, they come with some inherent risks.

Generators should never be used indoors – not even in a garage or basement – and must be kept at least 30 feet from the house to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be lethal. And it’s not advisable to use a generator if the home has flooded, which increases the chances of electrocution.

In addition, experts say the safest and most efficient way to use a generator is to have a qualified electrician install a transfer switch to feed power into the house. Backfeeding, the practice of plugging the generator directly into the home’s power outlets, is illegal and dangerous.

• Know what to avoid: Don’t walk, drive or swim in flood waters if at all possible; they may be contaminated or hiding dangerous debris or a downed power line. Also stay away from beaches and riverbanks. If the power is out, rely on flashlights instead of candles for illumination.

• Follow instructions: Evacuate immediately if told to do so by authorities, who may also ask you to shut down your power and/or water. Keep track of local news. Alert family and friends of your situation and whereabouts.

SC Home Grant

Darius Grimes, CEO, of Disaster Smart Consulting, Inc. was on the advisory board in 2005 – 2006 when this program  was being developed.  This program is similar to the Strengthen Alabama Homes program we have participated in except; this program has a $5000 grant for a new roof whereas; Strengthen Alabama has $10,000 grant.  Both of these programs offer the homeowner a huge benefit.

To learn more about SC Home Grant click here

Baldwin County Homebuilders, FORTIFIED Evaluators Honored

Disaster Smart Consulting, Inc received the 2017 Spotlight award for completing 283 FORTIFIED designations.  It was also one of the four award winners who earned a FORTIFIED Home Volume Award for the third consecutive year, while the other five honorees are first-time award winners.   Malik added “All of our award winners are making a real-world impact by enabling their local communities to be more resilient to severe weather and setting a benchmark for their industry peers to follow.”  You can learn more about the FORTIFIED home program at our website.

See the full article posted in the Gulf Coast News Today

11 Benchmarks for Resilient Homes and Communities


These standards help prevent losses and promote recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and more.

weberfoto/Adobe Stock

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) declared 2017 the most expensive year on record for weather and climate disasters, with damage costs totaling $306.2 billion. The collective $265.0 billion cost of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria alone–wildfires, tornadoes, and droughts aside–shattered the previous record for disaster-related expenses in a full year, $214.5 billion in 2005.

Following an increased frequency of dramatic climate events, engineers, designers, and builders are evaluating their building practices to ensure life and property is protected in the event of a major weather or climate disaster. The following resiliency standards point to vulnerabilities in design to help mitigate risk, prevent losses, and promote quick recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, and more.

LEED Pilot Credits
The USGBC’s LEED program recently adopted three pilot credits developed by the Resilient Design Institute. The credits help building designers, planners, and owners recognize design vulnerabilities and address risks related to a wide range of natural disasters and longer-term climate change. Buildings are also assessed for their resiliency in the event of a long-term heating or power outage. The pilot credits apply to all LEED Building Design and Construction, Home, and Mid-Rise Residential rating systems.

The USGBC has also adopted RELi, a resilient construction standard initially developed in 2012 by a group of experts, professionals, and graduate students. RELi uses LEED’s prerequisites for sustainable practices and adds criteria such as adaptive design for extreme climate events, access to emergency supplies following these events, and resilient food production on a community level.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) launched the FORTIFIED Home program to offer single-family builders and remodelers resilient engineering standards at a low price point. The guidelines help strengthen homes from hurricanes, wind, hail, and severe storms according to three designated standards. The Bronze Level evaluates the roof system while Silver adds windows, doors, and attached structures. The Gold standard evaluate resiliency of the home as a whole system.

National Green Building Standard
The National Green Building Standard (NBGS) certification from Home Innovation Research Labs holds single-family and multifamily buildings to high performance standards in site design, resource efficiency, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and building operation and maintenance. NGBS promotes sustainable and durable building, as well as responsible land development practices.

International Wildland-Urban Interface Code
Most homes that are destroyed in wildfires sit in areas where the built environment meets undeveloped wildland, also known as the wildland-urban interface. The International Code Council (ICC) developed the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC) in 2015 to address vulnerabilities in these areas due to outdated standards. The IWUIC supplements building and fire codes from local jurisdictions, requiring protected water and service access, ignition-resistant construction materials, vegetation management, and other location and design standards.

REDi Rating
According to engineering consultant firm Arup, current building codes focus primarily on protecting lives during an earthquake while allowing extensive damage to structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components. Arup developed the REDi (Resilience-based Earthquake Design Initiative) Rating System to provide owners, architects, and engineers a design framework that allows life and business to resume with minimal disruption after an earthquake.

Resilient Alliance
The International Code Council (ICC) launched the Alliance for National & Community Resilience (ANCR) to develop a benchmark that will help cities and communities address vulnerabilities in their buildings, water, and energy infrastructure. The ANCR resilience benchmarking system encompasses housing, water, food distribution, energy, public safety, transportation, and more, to help policymakers and leaders make informed decisions that will create more resilient communities. The alliance is made up of a diverse group of foundations, private sector, and government partners.

Enterprise Green Communities
Low-income communities are often on the front lines of weather events, since many are built on vulnerable land because it’s cheaper. Affordable housing lender Enterprise Community Partners developed its Green Communities checklist to improve the health, sustainability, and resiliency of new and existing affordable housing facilities. In addition to design and operations guidelines, the criteria include multifamily-specific recommendations such as designating a community room that can become an emergency hub, providing residents access to information, power, potable water, and locally sourced food.

Whole Building Design Guide
The Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) is an online resource offered by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). It provides government and industry professionals up-to-date recommendations on creating resilient, high-performance buildings. The WBDG includes resources on hazard-specific resilience considerations, good practices in resilience-based architectural design, and even crime prevention through environmental design.

Green Building Initiative
The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is a nonprofit that promotes efficient, healthy, sustainable, and resilient building practices through education and certification. Its Green Globes certification program is a practical and cost-effective tool available to commercial or multifamily owners and facility managers. The rating assessment, guidance, and certification program ensures projects of any type, size, and budget can achieve energy conservation, lowered water consumption, responsible use of materials, and resiliency.

Resilience LA
USGBC’s Los Angeles chapter developed the Building Resilience: LA guidebook to help property owners and organizations incorporate resilient principles into their management, operations, and maintenance. The guidebook aims to help both for-profit and community-based organizations achieve resiliency amid climate change, earthquakes, droughts, power outages, and more. It includes a step-by-step process to evaluate risk, implement sound structural solutions, and build community.

Kathleen Brown

Kathleen Brown is an editorial intern for BUILDER and Multifamily Executive magazines.

What Alabama Can Teach You about Storm Resilience

How community organizing, the insurance industry and state policy changes came together to make coastal Alabama a leader in weather-resilient home construction.

A new home under construction in coastal Alabama, being built to modern storm resilience standards.

Open to Mobile and Baldwin County residents, regardless of income or insurer, Strengthen Alabama Homes provided grants up to $10,000, estimated as the average cost for weather resilience improvements. The one requirement: homeowners must upgrade their existing home to a Fortified standard.  Read article in it’s entirety a link below:

Strong & Ready For Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is officially underway. We’re all hoping for a mild season, but MyStrongHome customers are doing more: these customers are flexing their muscles in front of their strong homes to show they are prepared.
A roof is ‘the holy grail of home upgrades’, according to a 2017 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors. A new roof is estimated to provide 109% cost recovery – meaning it pays for itself and then provides a 9% return on investment in the form of home resale value.
And that doesn’t include the additional return on investment of a Fortified roof for homes on the coast!


MyStrongHome’s Eleanor Kitzman and our contractor partner J.R. Yarnall spoke with Fox 24 Charleston‘s Leyla Gulen to talk about the value of Fortified and how the right roof can save you money and increase your home’s protection.
Hurricane season tip:
Check the deductibles on your insurance policy, especially the deductible for named storms. Many homeowners do not realize they would have to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket to repair storm damage.

Partnership spotlight: SELF
MyStrongHome is thrilled to partner with the Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) in Florida, to finance hurricane-prevention upgrades for homeowners throughout Florida. As a community development finance institution, SELF has a mission to ensure those upgrades are affordable for low- and moderate-income homeowners.

Local Experts Share Tips for Protecting Your Home’s Roof During Hurricane Season

Hurricane damage can cost a fortune and one of the most expensive repairs is the roof of your home.

MyStrongHome is a local organization that combines insurance, construction and financing to help people fortify their roof and protect from any damages a storm may cause.

To learn more:


As Storms Worsen, Many Coastal States Aren’t Prepared

Lax building codes and poor enforcement are a big problem in some places.
by | June 2018
In less than a week, Hurricane Harvey dropped up to 50 inches of rain on Houston. (Shutterstock)

June is the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. And according to researchers at Colorado State University, it’s going to be a busy one. They have predicted there will be 14 tropical storms; seven of which are expected to become hurricanes. But not every community is prepared for another active season — at least not when it comes to the resilience of their buildings.

Eight out of the 18 hurricane-prone coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast are highly vulnerable, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The report, Rating the States: 2018, is the institute’s third in six years. It evaluates the states on 47 factors that include whether residential building codes are mandated statewide, whether states and localities enforce those codes, and whether licensing and education are required of building officials, contractors and subcontractors.

Overall, the institute found “a concerning lack of progress” in the adoption and enforcement of updated residential building code systems across most of the states examined. “There’s not been much movement from [the first report] in 2012 to today,” says Julie Rochman, who stepped down as CEO and president of IBHS in April. “There’s some inertia.”

No state achieved a perfect rating based on the 100-point scale. But Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and New Jersey all received 90 or more points. Meanwhile New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Delaware received less than 70 points. None of these eight states mandate statewide building codes.

The institute, which is a nonprofit organization supported by property insurers and reinsurers, conducts scientific research to identify and promote best building practices. “The importance of strong, well-enforced codes was clearly demonstrated in 2017,” the report says, when, over a two-month period, three devastating hurricanes each caused billions in damages.

This was particularly apparent in Florida, which has a statewide mandated building code that’s regularly updated. “Florida really proved itself with Hurricane Irma,” says Rochman. “You had a devastating storm that came up the entire peninsula, subjecting homes to high winds and flooding. The state performed really well.”

An IBHS study after Hurricane Charley in 2004 shows just how well Florida’s homes have stood up over time. The study found a 60 percent reduction in  residential property damage claims filed and a 42 percent reduction in the severity of damages claimed.

The states rated best and worst don’t fall along partisan political lines — or along the lines of climate change activists vs. skeptics. Florida, for instance, is rated the highest with 95 points. But the state’s Republican governor has repeatedly demurred when asked about climate change, saying, “I am not a scientist.” Meanwhile, Delaware, which has the lowest rating with 17 points, is one of several blue states to join a coalition of governments promising to tackle climate change despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

(Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety)

Extreme weather events are only expected to become more common. “We have extensive scientific evidence that extreme events are increasing around the world, and will continue to increase as climate change gets worse,” Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor of earth system science at Stanford University, recently told The New Republic.

This, along with Florida’s tested building codes and last year’s storms, is why the report stresses the importance of mandatory statewide codes. While some local jurisdictions within the eight states rated below 70 may have strong code adoption and/or enforcement programs, it’s not enough, says Rochman.

Take Houston, which in April passed new building rules for flood resilience. Hurricane Harvey was one of the costliest hurricanes on record, inflicting nearly $200 billion in damage to not only Houston but also surrounding areas. Houston’s efforts are good. But, says Rochman, “Mother Nature doesn’t stop at a city boundary.”