Expert: Preparing your home for hurricane should happen well before cyclone nears

Expert: Preparing your home for hurricane should happen well before cyclone nears
Published: Aug. 29, 2018 at 7:52 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 30, 2018 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lane may not be the last hurricane threat Hawaii faces this year.

And Dennis Hwang, author of the "Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Natural Disasters," said that should motivate homeowners to fortify their homes from top to bottom.

"It's essentially tying the roof all the way to the foundation," he said, adding proper preparation should be done weeks before a storm threatens the state.

And it takes only days to do.

In two days he installed dozens of hurricane clips around a single-wall constructed house in Pearl City..

The roof is now reinforced.

"Generally, the weakest part of a house is the roof to wall connection. That's why the hurricane clip is so important," he said.

Single-wall houses should also be secured to their foundations.

Hwang attached wooden braces and metal tie downs to the home's footings.

It created what structural engineers call a continuous load path that can save a home in a hurricane.

"So the roof is attached to the wall. The wall is attached to the foundation. Every major structural intersection in a house is fortified with a strong connector," he said.

Plywood's the least expensive window protection for homes with double-wall construction.

Hwang recommends measuring the glass and adding four inches of overlap on each side, then cutting the plywood to size and labeling each panel.

"We know that this panel is specifically for this window. You know this is the outside of the panel and this is up," he said, pointing to the writing one panel.

To install the wood drill holes in the upper corners of the plywood and the window frame for the nails or screws that'll hold it in place.

"If all your panels are prepared beforehand, and stored neatly in the garage you could put them up in five or ten minutes for an incoming event," he said.

Window protection's more expensive for single-wall homes.

Window companies make shutters, polycarbonate plastic panels or awnings of impact resistant glass that cover jalousies, and can do the installations.

"For larger windows you would probably use a fabric, a hurricane fabric," he said.

Hwang personally witnessed Hurricane Harvey's damage in Texas.

He photographed two homes on the same block. The one with retrofits was only moderately damaged. The one with no retrofit lost most of its roof.

"You want to have a complete wind and rain resistant envelope around your house. When you have a hurricane nothing gets in," he said.

Most of the supplies and tools you'll need to retrofit your home for a hurricane you can find in a hardware store.

Hwang said homeowners can do most of the work themselves but may need help from a contractor to secure their home to its foundation.

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