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Hurricanes in Florida are a part of life, and their effects range from mild to catastrophic. Homes and businesses are at risk, not just from the wind and rain but also from additional hazards, including storm surges.
If you live in Florida, it’s important to know how common hurricanes are, which parts of the state get the most, and what you should do to stay safe in an approaching storm. You also need to know what to do following a hurricane to safeguard your home or business.
Contact All Dry USA for interior remediation and restoration services if you’ve suffered hurricane damage.
Florida is one of the most hurricane-prone states in the US and is at the highest risk of hurricane damage. Since 1850, a hurricane has significantly impacted Florida’s coastline at least once.
The hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak season stretching from mid-August to late October. During this period, many tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico will move toward Florida’s coast.
An average hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean includes 14 named storms, 7 of which typically turn into hurricanes and 3 of which may be major hurricanes.
Although all parts of Florida are vulnerable (including Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie), some areas get hit harder than others. Areas in the southern and southeastern parts of Florida tend to suffer impact more frequently, as they are closer to the warm waters of the Atlantic ocean. Another area that often sees severe damage is the panhandle.
Florida’s western coast (like Tampa) and areas such as Jacksonville are often spared from the direct strike of hurricanes. However, they can still be affected by landfall. Although land tends to slow hurricanes down, because Florida is a long and skinny peninsula, storms can maintain just enough speed and strength to rebuild themselves once they pass over the state and make it back to the ocean. Also, due to its geography, a hurricane making landfall in one area can still have impacts felt across the state, hundreds of miles away.
Hurricanes can bring several hazards, such as high winds, heavy rain, flooding, and storm surges. Additionally, tornadoes are common when hurricanes pass over land.
Winds associated with hurricanes can range from 74 mph to more than 155 mph and cause extensive damage to buildings and trees.
Heavy rains create the potential for flooding, damaging homes and businesses.
Storm surges are one of the most destructive aspects of hurricanes, where powerful winds push large amounts of water onto land with incredible force. Storm surges often cause more damage than wind or rain, and they can penetrate several miles inland, inundating areas with high amounts of water.
Storm surges are the deadliest threat of hurricanes and are responsible for nearly 90% of all hurricane-related deaths.
Additional threats include downed power lines, fallen tree branches, and flying debris.
Local authorities will issue a hurricane watch when there is the potential for a tropical storm to become a hurricane and affect an area within 48 hours.
When a watch is issued, you should review your emergency plan and ensure that you have enough supplies to last at least a few days—stock up on groceries, flashlights, batteries, and a generator.
Additionally, you should secure the home and prepare for strong winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding. Set up storm shutters, remove outdoor furniture, or secure plywood to vulnerable exterior areas.
You should also stay informed by listening to local radio stations, TV news channels, and weather radios for updates on the storm’s path. Make sure not to wait until the last moment to take necessary safety measures.
Local authorities will issue a hurricane warning when they anticipate a storm will reach land within 24 hours. When a warning is issued, you should hunker down and stay safe as the storm approaches.
Make sure that all outside doors and windows are securely closed and locked. Move furniture away from windows, turn off all utilities (like gas and electricity) if instructed by local authorities, and fill up your bathtubs with water in case of a power outage caused by the storm.
You should also stay indoors during the hurricane. If necessary, seek refuge in an interior room or shelter, and keep listening to local weather reports for updates.
Preparing for your first Florida hurricane? Take the following steps to ensure you’re ready with an action plan:
It’s crucial to have a detailed emergency plan in place before the storm hits. Make sure that everyone in your household knows the plan and that you have discussed how to respond in different scenarios. Your plan may include hunkering down, evacuating to a shelter, or leaving the local area.
Set up an emergency kit and add your most vital documents, including birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and insurance information. Make sure also to keep a list of emergency contacts handy.
Go grocery shopping and stock up on any supplies you’re low on; you should check your inventory every few months, especially at the start of hurricane season.
Some basics include food, water, portable chargers, and toilet paper. Additionally, you should ensure your property is secure by removing any potential flying objects (like lawn furniture) and boarding up windows if necessary.
You’ll also need flashlights, lanterns, and batteries in case the power goes out. Besides your smartphone, also have a radio or television that you can use to check for emergency broadcasts.
One thing many people forget to do before a hurricane hits Florida is to take photos of their home’s interior and exterior. These photos are vital if you need to file an insurance claim due to storm damage so you can compare what things looked like before and after the storm.
Hurricanes can cause extensive property damage due to the high winds, heavy rains, flooding, and storm surges. Knowing the most common property damage caused by hurricanes will help you understand how best to prevent them.
High winds can rip off shingles, blow down chimneys, and cause other damage to the roof. Roof damage is often one of the most apparent signs of a hurricane.
High winds can also rip off siding, leaving homes exposed to incoming rain and wind.
Flooding is one of the worst kinds of damage caused by a hurricane in Florida, as it can lead to substantial structural damage and even render some homes uninhabitable. Flooding is a risk for areas where a storm surge is possible, primarily homes and buildings near Florida’s southeast and west coasts.
Structural damage can occur in the form of damaged walls and foundations, especially in homes not equipped to withstand hurricane-level winds. Other structural damage may include windows smashed by flying debris or blown out due to pressure changes in the air. Heavy winds may tear doors off their hinges and rip away siding.
Ceilings may collapse due to water damage; leaks may form from the ceiling and damage walls, furniture, personal items, or flooring. Flying objects may damage furniture, and electrical wiring may spark and start fires. If you don’t treat water damage right away, it can also lead to interior mold damage, which can be costly and dangerous to your health.
Since 1851, over 120 hurricanes have hit the state of Florida. The most recent ones include Hurricane Ian (2022) and Hurricane Irma (2017).
All of Florida’s coastline has seen at least one hurricane. While Florida hurricanes impact the coasts the most, the impact of large storms may still ripple throughout the state, so even if a hurricane does not hit your area in Florida, you may still notice its effects.
At All Dry USA, we understand that dealing with hurricane damage can be stressful. If your property has suffered from a Florida hurricane, our restoration specialists can remove water damage and restore your home to its original state. Whether you’re dealing with interior leaks caused by mold issues, interior water damage, or any other hurricane damage inside your home, we’re here to help.
We’ll get you and your home back on your feet after a hurricane strikes. Contact us today to learn more.
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