Category 1 have winds 74-95 mph.
Category 2 have winds 96-110 mph
Category 3 have winds 111-130 mph
Category 4 have winds 131-155 mph
Category 5 have winds speeds in excess of 155 mph
Listen for these storm notices:
Tropical Storm Watch: Storm conditions are possible in the area. This usually gives 36 hours notice.
Tropical Storm Warning: Storm conditions are expected in the area. This usually gives 24 hours warning.
Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the area. This usually gives 36 hours notice.
Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the area. This usually gives 24 hours notice. Tornadoes
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Thunderstorms are possible in the area.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Thunderstorms are expected in the area.
Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in the area.
Tornado Warning: A tornado is expected, or has been seen either visually or by radar, in the area.
Most disasters come with no warning. However, incidents such as hurricanes and tornadoes, which have devastating effects, do come with some type of advanced notice. Monitor weather reports by listening to the local television or radio networks or by purchasing a weather radio. These resources typically get their information from the National Weather Service and do a good job of quickly distributing it.
Hurricanes are types of tropical cyclones that form in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. They are tightly coiled bundles of wind turning counter-clockwise in the Northern hemisphere. Once these storms form their specific circulation patterns, they are defined by their wind speed.
Tropical depressions have maximum sustained winds of 38 miles per hour or less. Tropical storms have maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour. Hurricanes have sustained winds of more than 74 miles per hour.
Tornadoes, however, develop during violent thunderstorms. They don’t have the life expectancy (counted in minutes instead of days) of hurricanes and therefore much less warning is available. Weather experts look for conditions that are conducive to tornado formation or sightings of tornadoes to warn the public. Tornadoes usually develop along storm fronts. Before thunderstorms develop, there is a change in wind direction and speed. This creates a horizontal spin low in the atmosphere. The air rises in a thunderstorm which tilts this horizontal spinning air. This area of rotation extends through most of the storm. The tornadoes develop within this area. Most tornadoes are weak (winds less than 110 mph) and last only a few minutes. These are still very dangerous and can cause damage. Some tornadoes may last 20 minutes or longer and have winds of up to 110-205 mph. The worst tornadoes last up to an hour and have winds greater than 205 mph. These cause the most damage and the greatest loss of life, but account for very few tornadoes.
What do you do in case of a weather emergency?
The safest place to be during a violent storm is underground. However, a small room in the middle of the house, such as a closet or under the stairs, is the best. The more walls between you and the outside, the better. If you live in a two story house go to the first floor. Find a room without windows. If you must be in a room with a window, protect the window, or protect yourself from the window if it breaks. Remember, stay in this area of refuge within your home when you hear a hurricane warning and arrival of the hurricane is eminent or when outside conditions worsen. Tornados form along the edges of hurricanes and may form at any time during severe weather. Don’t be fooled by the eye of the storm. There will be a few moments of calm while the center of a storm passes overhead. Residents, who live in a mobile home, even if it is new with tie downs, should seek safe shelter elsewhere. Go to a shelter, or better yet, contact a friend ahead of time and plan to stay with them in a time of emergency.
Before the season hits, get an emergency kit together.
The following are a few ideas to get you started:
- Five gallons of water per person, minimum.
- A 3 day supply of non-perishable food and a manual can opener.
- Emergency (camping) cooking equipment, lighter, and fuel.
- Heavy duty trash bags and bleach.
- Extra pet food and water.
- A fire extinguisher and a portable cooler.
- Flashlights with extra batteries and a radio.
- Important papers.
- Baby needs.
- Toiletries, medications, and special dietary needs.
- First-Aid kit and insect repellent.
- Cash and a full tank of gas in the car.
- Tarps, rope, and duct tape for emergency repairs to the home.
- Important phone numbers.
Remember, if evacuation is recommended, heed the warning!
Flooding and Water Damage
Most people could not get flood insurance until the late 1960′s. Individual insurance companies would not assume the risk of insuring home that were on a recognizable flood plain. When Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968, the citizens in these areas were able to afford some financial protection. Losses due to flooding are usually not covered under most homeowner’s policies. However, it is a good idea to purchase riders that protect you in case of flooding. Fortunately, the City of Apopka is not considered a flood hazard area. Although the City is on relatively high ground and has an engineered drainage system, given strong enough rain conditions and storms, there may be localized flooding in the area. Protect yourself. Contact your insurance agent and discuss the insurance options you have concerning flooding and flood protection. If your home floods or you have water damage from another source such as a broken window that lets driving rain in, or water resulting from fire suppression activities, try these hints to minimize the damage:
If clothing becomes wet, quickly wash it according to manufacturer’s instructions. Clothing left wet will readily develop odors and mildew. To remove mildew, wash with soap and water. If the stain is still in place, try lemon juice and salt or very diluted bleach. Always test for color fastness before trying a stain removal!
Have these professionally serviced. Do not use them after they have been exposed to water. If there is standing water in the home, turn off the power and do not turn it back on until the system has been checked by an electrician.
Flooring and Rugs:
If you have a wood sub-floor, this flooring will warp and smell. Remove a floor covering that will hold moisture, such as linoleum and thoroughly dry the wood. If carpeting is covering the floor, you may be able to run fans over the carpet to dry it. Make sure it is dry completely. The surface may feel dry to the touch, but if the padding or backing is moist, the rug will quickly rot. If humidity is high outside, you may have to run your air conditioner or heater to remove the moisture from within the home. Throw rugs and other removables should be cleaned and dried outside, but keep them out of direct sun. It may cause fading. Contact your carpet dealer or installer for more detailed recommendations.
Wipe leather goods with a damp, then dry cloth. Retain the shape of leather products by stuffing them with newspapers. Don’t choose papers that may bleed, the colors may then transfer. When they are dry, clean them with saddle soap. Always keep leather goods out of the sun and heat to prevent fading and cracking.
Walls may be cleaned by using a mild soap. Do not repaint the walls until they are completely dry. Again, you may have to run your air conditioner or heater to remove the moisture. You may be able to save wall paper by using a commercial paste to repair edges.
Do not dry wood furniture in the sun, this will cause warping. Wood that is wet will rot and develop mold. You can remove the mold by purchasing commercial wood cleaners or by using borax and hot water. When drying furniture with drawers. Remove the drawers completely and dry separately. A fifty/fifty mixture of ammonia and water will probably remove spots from the wood. Be sure to dry thoroughly and wax or polish the furniture to protect it.
There are professional reclamation and recovery organizations who will be able to protect and restore your property. Be sure to find a reputable one and be aware of any unsolicited or uncertified firms who may approach you after an event. Protect yourself and get a detailed estimate. Take photographs or videos of damage and keep all receipts of the work that was done. Contact your insurance company. They probably will have firms they contract with to provide these services.
The Florida Department of Insurance has a hotline to handle questions or complaints. Call 1-800-528-7094 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
Protecting Your Home
(Please see Protecting your Mobile Home below if you need specific information on Mobile Home Protection)
Hurricane, tornado, and other violent storm winds may damage or destroy your home. Debris carried by the wind can break windows and doors. This, in turn, will allow wind and rain inside your home causing tremendous damage. After Hurricane Andrew, the area was investigated to see which buildings failed and why. Inspectors found the roof, the windows, the doors, and the garage door were all contributors to the homes’ destruction. Before a storm approaches, have your home checked by a competent, qualified building inspector. A few projects to protect your site built home are on this page. There are many things you can do in addition to these, but this is a good start. Remember, even if you take these recommendations, there are no guarantees your home won’t be damaged or destroyed. If you are told to evacuate, do so.
Homes with gabled roofs are likely to suffer more damage than other types. A gabled roof is flat on one end and looks like an “A”. To check the strength of this system, go inside the attic and look at the truss system. The trusses are the “A” framed wood supports in the attic. The roof sheathing should be tightly nailed to the top parts of the truss. If it looks as though most of the nails have missed this part, your roof is already weakened because strength comes from all the components working together. Truss bracing consists of 2×4′s running across the trusses, from one to another, tying them all together. Look for these boards running the length of the building. The gabled end, (the end wall to the attic) should have additional 2×4′s running from the center of the peak of the gable end to the floor of the attic and another from the center of the bottom of the gable end to the roof of the attic. This should look like an “X” when viewed from the side. If you do not see either of these re-reinforcements, you may want to consider having them installed. Regardless of the type of roof design, hurricane straps are designed to help hold the roof to the walls. While you are in the attic, inspect for them. They look like thin strips of metal wrapping around the bottom ends of the trusses and down into the wall frame. These will be difficult for the homeowner to install, or maybe even see depending on the type of attic space you have. Call a professional contractor or inspector to make sure your roof’s attachment system is within current code for the area.
Storm shutters are one of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to protect your home from wind damage. Many manufacturers provide commercial storm shutters that can be installed onto the exterior of your home. If you wish to do this yourself, it is a relatively easy project. Use plywood that is exterior grade and is at least 5/8 inch thick. One quarter inch lag bolts penetrating into wood frame homes at least 1 3/4 inches and 1/4 inch expansion bolts with galvanized anchors penetrating into masonry homes at least 1 ½ inches should be used to secure the plywood over the window opening. Remember to overlap the wall around the window at least four inches and bolt at least every 12 inches. For sliding glass doors or picture windows larger than the standard 4×8 sheet of plywood, put two sheets together. Take a sheet 8 feet high and 4 feet wide and put a second next to the first (creating an 8×8 sheet). Brace the two together with 2×4′s at the bottom and the middle of the sheets using 2 inch, 10 gauge wood screws.
Single entry exterior doors usually withstand high winds. If the door has windows, shutters will need to be placed over these windows for protection. Double doors will probably need reinforcing on the inactive door (the door that is usually not used to get in and out of the home). These reinforcing kits can be found at a local hardware store and are relatively inexpensive.
Newer garage doors have horizontal bracing attached to each panel. If you don’t see large horizontal braces, you can purchase a retrofit kit and instructions from a local garage door sales or installation company. Double garage doors are large and if not reinforced, they will wobble and may come apart in the wind. This would expose the interior of your home to the storm’s damaging effects.
Protecting your Mobile Home
Mobile homes are not safe during a violent windstorm and should not be utilized as shelter! Mobile homes are a good alternative to site built homes for housing, but are not built to the same standards as site built homes. Make arrangements to stay with a relative or friend during a hurricane. Don’t plan on shelters. Shelters are usually opened only as a last resort and that may not even be in your area. When you evacuate, plan ahead and bring those items you and your family will need. Also, plan now to have an out of town contact you and your family can contact after the storm. Many times family members who live out of the area try to contact those in the storm’s area to find out about their well being. This ties up phone lines and cellular capabilities rescuers need to accomplish their mission. If you contact one person out of state that everyone else knows to contact, you can communicate with your loved ones that you are alright.
Tips for manufactured home owners:
Before the storm arrives, know to where you are going to evacuate. The most important thing you can do for your safety is not stay in a mobile home during a hurricane. Install tie down or anchor systems per code. This may lessen the damage to your home or the damage your home may cause others. Remove hazards from the outside of your home which may become missiles during a windstorm, such as lawn furniture. Much of the damage caused during a storm is from flying debris. Take important records and documents with you when you evacuate. Either remove them or store them in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box. Check to see if your land is in a flood zone and be sure you have appropriate insurance information for flooding and wind. Don’t wait for a storm to develop before you purchase insurance. Many companies won’t sell policies with hurricanes off the coast.
Protecting Your Business
Did you know that according to the Department of Labor, 40% of all companies that experience a disaster never re-open? The City of Groveland wants no business to experience a disaster, but odds are businesses will. Disasters are not only violent storms, but can be accidents, civil disturbances, and other incidents.
Your place of business needs to be secured against the effects of the storm the same way your home does. Determine now which records and equipment need to be evacuated and which records may stay. Computer information should be backed up to tape or disk and stored in a safe place off premises. This is good business practice regardless of whether there is a storm or not. There is no way to predict a fire or a burglary or any other event which may affect your business. Determine who will be responsible for making sure these provisions are taken care of and that the location of the copied materials is known so they may be easily retrieved when needed.
Homeowner’s policies differ from business policies in many ways. Contact your insurance agent before the disaster and answer the following questions:
- Does my policy cover the cost of bringing my building up to code if it is damaged? Many jurisdictions, including Apopka, require current codes be met if a large percentage of the building is repaired or replaced.*What perils does my policy cover? Some policies have riders limiting or denying certain claims of loss.
- What documentation does my agent want to see in the event of a loss? Certain kinds of documentation are necessary in order for your insurance company to reimburse you, like tax records, inventory, etc.
- Does my policy provide for a loss of income? With a business closed, there are no sales or services provided. Does your insurance cover this loss during the time you are rebuilding?