In Southwest Florida, the risk of a hurricane hitting our area is an ever-present threat from June to November every year. It may be tempting to think that if a large-scale hurricane doesn’t directly pass over your city that you don’t have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Storm surge, an abnormal rise in water above the normal tide, is one the leading causes of coastal flooding. Storm surges are extremely dangerous because they are capable of flooding large coastal areas, causing severe devastation, and can occur outside of a direct hit from a hurricane. To assess the potential damage to your property a storm surge can bring and what you can do about it, ask yourself the following questions:
“How High Above Sea Level is my Home?”
All low-lying coastal regions, which can cover many miles inland, are vulnerable to flooding from storms. Since a large majority of Southwest Florida coastlines lie less than 10 feet above sea level, within the reach of strong storm surge event, the impact can be substantial. Find out from a reliable source where your home stands, but chances are high that it is at or just above sea level and therefore within a coastal flooding zone.
“What Kind of Damage Could be Expected in my Area?”
Storm surges have damaged roads and bridges, destroyed homes and businesses, and, in severe cases, wiped out entire coastal communities. In order to know what could be destroyed, survey your home and property to see what valuable items are within a few feet of the ground. A famous example of this is Hurricane Katrina, which caused well over $100 billion in damage from its surge’s floods.
“Can Storm Surge be Predicted?”
The good news is yes- while a storm surge is generally very damaging, it can be predicted with enough time for residents to leave the area. NOAA has several models, such as an extratropical storm surge model, that predicts surge and its impact from extratropical storms. These advanced computer models are used to simulate the weather conditions in a severe storm to learn how it can cause coastal inundation conditions. Even if you live in an area prone to flooding, you will not be taken by surprise by it.
“How Will I know if Coastal Inundation is Going to Happen?”
Once you have established that you are indeed at risk for damage from a storm surge, it can be nerve-wracking wondering when or if it will happen. NOAA's National Weather Service monitors coastal inundation conditions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These experts will warn you in advance if a threat should appear. The Weather Service issues forecasts, watches, and warnings, with details on a storm's potential impact. Local emergency management officials use this information to decide when evacuations are necessary, and if they are, report them to media outlets like the local news stations.
“What Can I Do to Protect my Family and Property?”
The best way to protect your family is to be prepared. Know the hazards that may affect you, your family, and your home and make plans for where you’ll go if told to evacuate. Stay tuned to local media outlets, listen for advisories or specific instructions from your local officials, and leave immediately if told to do so. Fully-equip your home with protective items like hurricane shutters and durable hurricane glass in the windows, so you know you and your family can flee the area and feel secure that your home will be protected while you are gone. Staying after the evacuation notice is released to try and cover your windows may mean you don’t leave in time, so don’t run this risk.
If you haven’t already installed impact windows, hurricane shutters, and other hurricane protection in your home, do so now. Waiting to hear when there is another storm in the Atlantic means it is already too late. Contact Storm Solutions today for a free estimate, and give yourself the peace of mind that your family and belongings will be safe if a catastrophic storm surge should occur.