Hurricane Engineering: Protecting Your Property’s Future

Hurricanes are one of the single most harmful and costly disasters that befall the Southern Florida area. These often-deadly storms bring wind, rain, and millions of dollars in destruction that affect both personal and commercial structures and often alter people’s lives forever. Potential hurricane-victim cities account for nearly 46% of GDP and with reports predicting continued soaring costs for storm damage and an increase in storm intensity in the coming years, disaster safety and hurricane engineering are more crucial than ever.

I live inland Florida. Hurricanes don’t affect me.

Florida State University says, “A common misconception in Florida is that there are parts of the state that do not get hurricanes.  Since 1850, all of Florida’s coastline has been impacted by at least one hurricane.  With its long coastline and location, Florida frequently finds itself in the path of these intense storms. The southeast coastline is extremely susceptible to a land-falling hurricane, followed by the panhandle.” This means that if you live in Florida the time to be prepared for structural damage from a potential hurricane is NOW and ALWAYS.

While various areas of Florida are more susceptible to widespread devastation, all areas of Florida are included in a warning and a zone system for measuring the likelihood of mass destruction for your specific property. This zoning comes from years of weather mapping and educated prediction but is NOT a guarantee of safety or avoidance of hurricane damage.

But my property was built to “hurricane engineering standards!”

Whether a residential or commercial property, it is likely built to counteract a certain level of natural forces during a storm. Often, however, your property won’t be able to withstand strong hurricanes and storms forever even if it was built to the code and engineering standards of its construction year.

As structural engineers in the construction industry, we are constantly innovating and looking for ways to make structures safer and longer lasting. New technologies and techniques allow us to continue to push the bounds of what is possible in protecting your valuable property but if you own property in Florida, it is highly likely, at some point, that your home or commercial building will suffer some level of damaging effects of a storm.

If hurricane engineering “codes” are not enough to protect my home what else can I do?

  1. Design for both form and function. Choose an architect and a hurricane engineering team who are well-versed in creating both beautiful and durable structures which integrate functional design aspects which help alleviate things like wind shear and make a structure more aerodynamic.
  2. Reinforce your property with visually appealing structural enhancements that are both visually appealing and do dual duty as reinforcement to resist storms. Items like trusses, hurricane straps, clips, and ensuring that the most vulnerable part of your property (the roof) is more than adequately designed and reinforced to withstand wind speeds of over 180 mph.
  3. Consider your foundation. This part of the property will take a beating from both winds, shifting of ground, and flooding storm surge. It is imperative to ensure that your drainage system is able to support the movement of water away from the foundation of your building.
  4. Integrate durable materials to prevent failures in larger systems. Use building materials such as floodproof windows that are both aesthetically pleasing and resilient to the effects of wind and flooding.

My insurance company will help me inspect and rebuild.

When “the big one” does come your way, even if you have adequately prepared, you will likely need to call upon a licensed structural engineer to get a full storm damage assessment. Licensed structural engineers are often able to give a more thorough and detailed examination of your individual property as compared to insurance inspectors. As structural engineers, our firm works FOR YOU, not for the insurance agency.

Our professional engineers and surveyors are trained to evaluate, identify issues by analyzing the damage and the likelihood of the structure’s ability to continue to resist natural forces. In doing so, they not only identify the repairs that are necessary to make a property habitable again, but they apply a more in-depth knowledge of long-term solutions that may be necessary to ensure that you property is safe for years to come. and let you know what repairs are necessary. Whether you need an exterior inspection, an interior inspection, or a roof inspection, a licensed structural engineer can offer a detailed storm damage report.

At DOP Engineering, we believe in using a well-planned, holistic approach to protecting personal and commercial structures from hurricanes, flooding, and other natural disasters. Contact us today and learn how you can get started with DOP to ensure the longevity of your South Florida home or commercial business property.