What 'worked' and did not work in your Storm Preps?
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  1. #1
    Senior Member Gary M's Avatar
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    What 'worked' and did not work in your Storm Preps?

    I made a comment in a thread here that I made a few mistakes and a few guys asked me to list them so that we could all 'learn' the things that did work well and what to try to avoid, as well as what things did work well, so I'll start off and hopefully, we can keep the important info in this thread for future Reference......

    Mistake # 1: I failed to completely lock up all shutters, on all four sides of the house. I assumed that the winds would be the strongest on the front/north side of the house and that a few shutters on the back/south side would not get much wind. WRONG!

    On the back/south of the house, we have three sets of big, storm rated French double patio doors. Two on the main/second floor and one on the bottom patio. I properly set up the shutters for the front door as it is on the ground floor and on the north side. There is a metal 'track' that I must screw into the concrete decking outside the front door. It was very labor and time intensive but I got it done and the door was 100% secure. I heavily taped along the bottom of the door seal and up another 15-18".

    When I started to open the big patio shutters I had a decision based on how hard the front door's little 4-foot wide bottom track was to install. I had three, 10 foot long tracks with 12 big screws each to screw into pre-drilled/sleeved holes. The 'screws' have wide, big slots for either a special tool or a really big flat screwdriver. I had neither which is why it was so hard to install the front door track.

    Being also time-constrained due to needing to get back to Lauderdale to secure that house and the boat and get ready to Evac that house, I gambled at the Key Largo house that this big, stiff, heavy shutters would be 'okay' without the bottom tracks. I lost.

    The wind obviously got very rough on the back/south side of the house, got in behind a few of the door shutters and literally peeled them back like a can opener! Here's the second floor, main patio door/shutters and beyond that, the double doors coming out of the Master. If you look closely, you can see where the bottom of the shutter flapped back and forth for who knows how long. Looking at the flooring, that had only been put down about 6 weeks prior and it was awesome! Now it's all gouged up. I just hope the guy can repair it and not have to do the entire/big patio again.



    Same patio from the other end. The door frame piece laying on the patio was found around a corner, about 12 feet away. You can see on the (freshly painted!) wall, that this door panel was bent back so far that it whacked the wall hundreds of times.



    I told Jenn once we saw this, "Can you imagine had we been here, what this would have sounded and looked like with these large metal panels flapping around like a flag on a windy day? It would have been pretty horrifying. Glad we left." In the future, as soon as I see a storm kind of coming our way, I'll grab a cold beer and lay down those securing tracks days in advance..... They would have prevented all that flapping and I would not need to replace 2-3 big doors and to have the new flooring repaired!

    Obviously these photos bring up Mistake # 2. Paddle fans. I should have taken the blades off. Two little screws per blade. These two fans and three more on the bottom patio. We had fan blades, seemingly everywhere across the back of the house! The funny thing was, that I found most of the little screws right below the fans. They fell straight down while the blades went flying!

    My mistakes will be paid for in the aggravation and the frustration that it was self-induced as well as with my own money!

    Things that worked well:

    1) Empty the fridges and freezers. How many times have we all heard horror stories of what people found in their fridges after losing power for a few days. Many have to replace the entire units. Toss the damn food!

    2) Unplug the fridges and freezers. Who knows what quality of electricity is flowing during a storm with thansformers exploding, trees on power lines, mini-tornados, etc.

    3) Prop the doors open. Jenn did a simple wipe of the inside of the fridge, plugged it back in and we were good to go.

    4) Ground floor. We picked up all area rugs, hallway rug runners, etc..... just in case we got some flooding. Not only to protect them, but to avoid sopping wet rugs from sitting in a closed up house for days/weeks on end.

    5) We left all interior fans on Low so that when the power did come back on, air could at least circulate a little inside.

    6) I used plenty of Duct Tape to try to seal the bottom 15-18" of all ground floor doors. With seaweed piled up at the bottom patio doors, I know we had water that tried to get in. Don't assume your door is sealed tight all on its own. We also placed beach towels behind and packed in tight against, all bottom floor doors so that in the event that there is some seepage, it might be contained.

    7) Get the hell out! Our house is a concrete fortress and with my baby Honda genset, we'd have been 'okay' after the storm. But what a nightmare we would have endured! Nope, seen enough nightmares, going back to 1960 in Ocean Springs, Miss, seeing the aftermath of Camille, going through the north wall of the eye of Andrew, no power for over a week after Katrina and then Wilma...... too old for that kind of excitement anymore. Panama City Beach was 100% stress free!

    What worked well for you? What did not work so well? What mistakes did you make? Please add your own comments for all of us to gain from and thanks for doing so......
    "Key Largo is too small to have a town drunk, so we all take turns."

  2. #2
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    You need to replace the screws for the tracks. They're called side walk bolts, with Phillips heads. They have big heads, about 3/4" and they have tapered edges. They're made for side walks and don't cause a tripping hazard. Put them back in the holes after you remove the tracks and no dirt will fill up the holes. The special tool for the slotted heads doesn't work a damn. Glad you didn't have more damage.

  3. #3
    Senior Member conchydong's Avatar
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    It might be even easier/quicker to disconnect the wires and remove the whole fan from the j box instead of removing the blades.

    Good post. We all learn things each storm. I hope we never have to use our knowledge again though.

  4. #4
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    What didn't work? Got up at 5am on friday and packed the wife and small kids up to leave Ft. Lauderdale (because that was where the eye was going) and driving to a friends house in Sarasota. Arrived, cracked a beer and started to relax, until wifey kept reminding me...it's following us, it's getting closer!

    What worked...getting up at 5am Saturday morning and driving BACK to Ft Lauderdale.

    I agree with Gary, won't ever stick around for a big one

  5. #5
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    This might seem like old history to most but i spent a lot of time after Hurricane Andrew studying houses that survived the eye wall of this category 5 storm.

    i lived in Kendall during Hurricane Andrew and experienced ONLY 146 mph sustained winds according to the Hurricane Center in Coral Gables that verified this speed for my location. The hurricane center was located further from the hurricane's center then my house. Using a formula from the Hurricane Center that estimates wind gusts can be as high as 30 % of sustained wind speeds.....this means I could have had gusts as high as 185 to 190 mph. i can attest that i had my hands on the east wall of my house and felt the entire eastern concrete block wall move inward during some of the strongest gusts. I also at one point had my hand on a small plane of semi-circular glass panels that were located in the top of my solid wood front door that faced the direction of the strongest winds. During some gusts the glass seemed to become flexible and filled the contours of my hand.......this is when i moved quickly away from the door, since it became bowed in quite severely. My neighbor's houses two lots down (same model house) had her solid wood front door blow in. Then the wind blew out every one of her windows and the siding glass doors to her patio. I had several friends that lived further south in the eye wall and one of them (a former girlfriend) lost most of her roof, but her walls stayed up. Her large Florida room & wet bar was under the house's roof and that structure disappeared entirely. I had minimal damage and only lost a backyard steel shed and PVC panels that covered a small patio. My roof only lost about ten asphalt shingles. Only two houses on my entire street had hurricane shutters up of any design.....mine and my neighbor across from me, but despite this fact most houses suffered only minimal damage. My opinion for this is there were no houses in my old (1960) neighborhood that had anything but asphalt shingles on their roofs. In newer developments further south most houses sported heavy clay barrel tiles that all went airborne and seemed to pulverize every window not covered by shutters. Twenty five years ago very few houses in Dade County had hurricane shutters of any kind, and the ones that did were of such poor design they did not stand up to the strongest of Andrew's winds.


    One 3/4 inch plywood shutter on my Kendall house that covered a large double window facing the wind was hit so hard in the height of the storm that the entire house shook. Then i could hear a very heavy object dragging across my roof..... when it reached the apex of the roof it obviously went airborne. Later i noticed a triangular hole (one inch plus in diameter.) in the panel that took the hit.....this hole almost penetrated completely through the thick plywood.

    On the second day after the storm i was finally able to get out of my neighborhood and drive down to "Ground Zero" ten miles to the south. This drive seemed to take hours. I was forced to drive my truck over so many wood and concrete power poles i lost count. Navigation was near impossible, since there were no street signs and many landmarks were unrecognizable. i was forced to ask people what street they lived on, so I could figure out where i was on a street map. Some people were so much in shock they had trouble remembering the name or number of the street they lived on. i drove through the area where the eye wall came ashore, but i stayed inland far enough to where the houses were not effected by storm surge, i found only one house that seemed to be unscathed. All of its windows were intact and its roof of asphalt shingles sustained little damage. Went I walked up to the house to see what kind of anchor bolts it had for his shutters that had already been removed, i heard a loud voice bellow out ordering me to leave. (Probably at gun point). As i promptly departed he answered one simple question i voiced aloud concerning the material of his shutters......he said they were steel. and from my observation they were affixed to the house with expansion bolts, that no doubt went into the concrete blocks.

    I also saw houses where lead anchor bolts that secured hurricane shutters had failed completely and left large gaping holes in the wall around every blown out window. I then realized my plywood hurricane shutters would have failed in the eye wall of this storm. In the next few months i upgraded my shutter's anchor bolts to Red Devil expansion bolts long enough to go inside my concrete blocks.

    I eventually built a 3/4 inch plywood "Storm Door" that fit snugly behind the front door of my Kendall house. It was held in place by eight to ten long sliding brass bolts that locked into place into holes that i drilled into the concrete around the door frame. I also want to mention that Blue Tap Con concrete screws were not available in any quantity or simply did not exist before Hurricane Andrew, so people installing plywood shutters in haste were forced to use normal nails or so called cement nails. I doubt any of these survived in the eye wall, since i did not see any plywood remaining on windows or businesses. BTW the wind speed of Hurricane Andrew is unknown, since no wind speed instruments survived near the center of this storm. The storm surge at the historic Deering Estate on Biscayne Bay was measured to be 16 feet.

    i now live a bit closer to the bay (5 miles) in the East Redland's and do not feel this newer house would stand up to a Cat 5 storm like Andrew despite the fact that i have approved and permitted accordion shutters and special hurricane braces for the inside of my two car garage door. I feel the weak point of this larger house is the roof with a hip and valley design. A plain hip roof without a cupola would be much stronger IMO. i also feel clay barrel tiles should be illegal in hurricane prone areas, since i have witnessed first hand that they only stay affixed to roofs in category one storms or less in strength.
    Last edited by The Cat's Eye; 09-28-2017 at 02:17 AM.
    Giimoozaabi

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Cat's Eye View Post
    I also saw houses where lead anchor bolts that secured hurricane shutters had failed completely and left large gaping holes in the wall around every blown out window. I then realized my plywood hurricane shutters would have failed in the eye wall of this storm. In the next few months i upgraded my shutter's anchor bolts to Red Devil expansion bolts long enough to go inside my concrete blocks.
    Was there too...152nd st 72ct. I rode it out a bit farther north. Was a difference 10 miles makes. Our home was hit by the hurricane, a tornado, and flooded. About 3-4 miles from the Deering Estates. Crazy stuff happened...regardless regarding the above are you referring to these types of anchor bolts?

    lead_insert_small.jpg

    And replaced it with these?

    0002145_12-x-4-12-red-head-trubolt-wedge-anchor-zinc-plated-25box_550.jpg

    If not what was replaced with what? I have the ones up top about every 12 - 16 " apart with sidewalk bolts that secure hurricane fabric.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CaptJ's Avatar
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    To answer your question from the previous post, our village was hit pretty hard. Our elevation is 13'8" and we are not in the flood zone, but the surge did crush all the lower units on the oceanfront. A few units were destroyed, a few were left badly damaged, and a few made it through with no visible damage. At least 30 power poles came down and have to be replaced before power can be restored to those units. Winds were clocked at 99 knots at Molasses Reef Station, thus I would believe all in all we did better than can be expected. I installed 1/4" stainless cable (Sailorman-Laud.) sailboat rigging as tie downs and credit that for keeping our driveway roof on. We inherited accordian shutters which kept the interior sealed. Our damage came from other houses on the beach coming apart and striking our roof. There were three gashes in our roof which we closed up Tuesday when we got there to take a look. A neighbor had a 2x4 go through his back wall. One of the hits to our carport roof was hard enough to bend a 3x4 section down at least 2'. All in all the tie downs and shutters spared us from what could have been much more serious interior damage. As to the bait freezer, I filled it to the top, duct taped it and strapped it down. Everything seems to have refrozen and I will just start chipping away as I need it. There was no odor, so I would think it stayed frozen for some time. I left some ice blocks in my food freezer which my neighbor said were still frozen a week later. Like I said, we were going to remodel anyway, so now it's sooner than later due to mold in the house because of the roof leaking. If anyone has a good roofer - contractor for Key Largo please let me know.

  8. #8
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    CaptJ,
    Try Bob Hilson Roofing, he mine about 7 years ago in my Key Largo Home, I believe the old man still lives in Key Largo, they are out of Homestead.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jax View Post
    You need to replace the screws for the tracks. They're called side walk bolts, with Phillips heads. They have big heads, about 3/4" and they have tapered edges. They're made for side walks and don't cause a tripping hazard. Put them back in the holes after you remove the tracks and no dirt will fill up the holes. The special tool for the slotted heads doesn't work a damn.
    I use a food grade light grease on my bolts. It keeps them from corroding and makes them easier to adjust as needed. Some could argue that this may reduce the holding power of the bolts a bit, but in my opinion, the reduced friction during install is worth it. I wouldn't use the grease on a hole that was going to be left empty as it would cause the hole to fill with dirt etc.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Gary M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jax View Post
    You need to replace the screws for the tracks. They're called side walk bolts, with Phillips heads. They have big heads, about 3/4" and they have tapered edges. They're made for side walks and don't cause a tripping hazard..
    99.99% sure that's what we have.......
    "Key Largo is too small to have a town drunk, so we all take turns."

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