Personally, I believe that establishing a sturdy location, far from the storm surge is perhaps as important as trying to flee, several hundred miles, only to run out of gas, perhaps have an overheated car due to continuous bumper-to-bumper “driving,” and a lack of food, lodging or passable roads. The linked article, from the Houston Chronicle, reminds me of what happened when many Houston residents fled Hurricane Rita, eight year ago.
The location at a reasonable distance from the initial storm surge is quite evident; however, the degree of security that a particular building—home, public shelter, commercial property—can be difficult to discern. Since I know nothing of building construction, I am quite happy with a crash course that I received from a couple neighbors, following Hurricane Andrew, in 1992.
As it turns out, they were going to one of the hardest hit areas, just after Andrew, since one of their colleague’s neighborhood was in a shambles. I went along to help, with our mission being to provide interim roof repairs—plywood, a few struts and tar paper—which would last them until they could get new roofs. Following major disasters, insurance estimators are completely overloaded!
We were like the cavalry pulling in. Everyone, but me, was an engineer, and some had expert carpentry skills. Even I could see that the quality of the damaged roofs, as well as the house plans; which were quite shoddy, and definitely not up to Building Codes.
Since this development was near the bay, the drywall in the homes were ruined, half-way to the ceiling from the storm surge. Perhaps the plumbing and wiring would need replacement, as well! The garages sloped downward, probably below sea level at the back, perhaps ruining some cars—but the crabs walking around didn’t seem to mind it. But by far, the most glaring problem was the roofs.
One of the engineers told me that the Building Code required one inch plywood, not the half-inch that the seven or eight ones that I worked on had. And, the nails in the plywood constantly missed the struts, and a large number of the paper-thin shingles still had the tape on them—meaning that they were not properly affixed to the roofs. In fact, walking across those roofs felt bouncy, just like walking across a trampoline. How criminal!
Well, on our ride back home, one engineer who lives around the corner from us, said that, when he and his wife were home-shopping, he went into the attic and noticed that the underlying roof—below he tar paper and tile—was tongue-and-groove lumber. He said that he whispered to his wife that, if she wanted to, she should buy the house. Additionally, the gabled shape deflects the wind somewhat.
So, I’ll take the reasonable sturdiness of our home, as compared to taking our chances, and possibly getting stranded on one of Florida’s few major North-South highways. That’s another problem for an attempted evacuation is that it would take 400 miles just to leave Florida and, then, Georgia is also preparing for evacuations, and dealing with shortages, as well. “Tongue-and-Groove,” by the way, means the edges of the alternating individual pieces of lumber are concave and convex shaped, so as to inter-lock—further strengthening the entire roof.
Now, the only remaining challenge is to keep everyone in the house loose. Stay tuned!