ORLANDO, Fla. – Given the current coronavirus pandemic, sheltering in place might be the best option for many residents if and when a hurricane strikes Florida.
Since evacuating won’t be an option for some, making sure your home can withstand a storm is even more critical than it was during past hurricane seasons.
[DOWNLOAD: News 6 Hurricane Preparedness Checklist]
Tat Granata, a partner and vice president of sales for the Florida Home-Improvement Associates, said when it comes to making upgrades, windows are a good place to start.
“We want to keep the storm from getting inside the home, because then it has nowhere to go. The walls are going to try to trap it into the house and it blows the roof off the house. So we’ve seen that unfortunately in past hurricanes, that’s certainly something that we want to prevent by replacing the windows and protecting, making our home more safe,” Granata said.
In particular, he suggested examining corners because they are the most vulnerable part of the residence. Homeowners will likely notice that windows on their corners are weaker then those on other parts of the house.
“That corner of the home is always a vulnerable area, because of the way the winds react around that corner in a storm, it intensifies around the corner,” Granata said.
For anyone concerned that their home might not be up to par, Granata’s team is still doing inspections in a socially distanced way, but residents need to act fast to make those improvements because some manufactures have weeks-long waiting lists for windows and other necessary items.
That’s because current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19 are calling for reduced capacity, so plants are only operating at 50%.
“So we’re getting into hurricane season and for folks that want to protect and prepare for the season, you kind of have to do it now. Whereas in the past, we had a little bit more in July, we can still get you installed for August. For right now, we’re pretty up against it as it relates to the timeline and getting everything, you know, permitted, manufactured and installed in time for late July, early August,” Granata said.
He cautioned, too, that even newer homes can be at risk.
“Unfortunately, that’s the case too often, a lot of folks in Florida, you know, they believe because the home was built, you know, in a certain type or a relatively newer home, that it does have some sort of hurricane protection and unfortunately, we’re seeing time and time again that they don’t. So we really, again, want you to recognize what you have, what you don’t have,” he said.
Granata recognized that times are tough this year for countless people who’ve been laid off or furloughed as businesses across the state have been shut down, which is why the Florida Home-Improvement Associates is offering a variety of financing options and is allowing borrowers to hold off on making payments until 2021.
He said overall, Floridians need to do whatever it takes to protect their homes and their loved ones this year.
“It’s not the year to be displaced from your home. You know, we’re all home and how terrible would it be if we have, you know, a catastrophic hurricane and now we can’t even be in our home? Where are we gonna go? So it’s really, it’s really difficult, and it’s something that we all have to address and be prepared for,” Granata said.
For more advice on how to prepare your home, family and pets for a storm, visit ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane.