IBHS: The Untold Story of Hurricane Harvey

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IBHS: The Untold Story of Hurricane Harvey

IBHS Publishes Post-Disaster Report on Wind Damage where Hurricane Harvey Blasted Ashore along the Texas Coastal Bend

TAMPA, Fla., August 8, 2018 – If you live where the wind gets mean, you need to know how to defend your home. Shutter or protect all your doors and windows, deeply anchor any structures attached to your home, and make good choices about the roof design and covering that protect your home or business. These and other guidance emerged from a post-disaster study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Hurricane Harvey will be remembered as an epic flooding disaster – and rightly so. But there is more to the story of this brutal hurricane. Along the well-loved Gulf shores of the Texas Coastal Bend, Harvey’s fierce Category 4 winds delivered a massive blow to an area that is still recovering nearly one year later. The IBHS report chronicled the damage, provided quantitative data that researchers can use, and resulted in strong advice to homeowners still rebuilding now.

“Key findings in this report will guide home repair, roofing and construction considerations for years to come in wind-prone and wind damaged communities,” said Roy E. Wright, IBHS president and CEO. “The decisions we make as we build or repair our homes – and even as we prepare to evacuate them – can make an enormous difference in whether we have a home to return to after the storm passes.”

Lead study author Tanya M. Brown-Giammanco, PhD., IBHS vice president, research, shares findings which include:

  • Although asphalt shingles are the most popular form of roof cover — used on 85 percent of the 213 houses studied – more than half the homes assessed had lost shingles, and many of those suffered further underlayment or structural damage.

“Beneath the shingles on roofs, are sheets of plywood or other roof decking materials. To allow for expansion and contraction as temperatures change, these sheets usually have a gap between them. IBHS recommends sealing this gap with special tape or other material because when shingles are torn off in a storm, your house essentially becomes an open bucket for the rain, which enters through all the gaps,” Brown-Giammanco said.

Other findings:

  • Nearly a quarter of the attached structures surveyed – such as porches, sunrooms, and pool cages – were damaged by the storm, often becoming the culprit in further damage to the main house structure.
  • Unprotected doors were damaged up to six times more frequently than protected doors. Of all the doors assessed, sliding glass doors fared the worst, with up to 60 percent damaged regardless of protection.
  • Covering doors and windows with shutters or even plywood helps reduce wind damage and water intrusion but works best if ALL doors and windows are protected, not just the side facing the water.
  • Hip roofs, which are more aerodynamic than gable end roofs, were damaged less frequently.
  • Single garage doors failed more often than double garage doors.

“The findings on garage doors are consistent with other recent studies following severe wind events, but this is an area where we hope to conduct further lab studies to determine why a smaller single garage door fails more readily that larger double size doors,” Brown-Giammanco said. “Regardless, reinforcing garage doors and buying the strongest wind-rated door available are smart moves because once a garage door fails, major damage to the home and roof is often inevitable due to the wind pressure that can get into the house.”

And finally:

  • The highest wind speeds did not always correlate with the highest damage frequencies. The influence of building age and the residential building code in effect at the time of construction, construction type, and exposure also contributed to damage frequencies and sometimes outweighed the wind speed effects.

“The take-away here is that the newer homes, built to modern codes generally fared better than older, weaker buildings,” Brown-Giammanco said. “Texas does not have a statewide building code, or enforcement standards to ensure codes in place are followed. However, Texans can choose to build stronger homes, following voluntary resilience standards set forth in the IBHS FORTIFIED Home® program.  If the homes and businesses we investigated had been built to more resilient standards, recovery in these wonderful communities would not have been as painful or as prolonged.  We urge homeowners to look at the science and make the choice to build stronger as they repair or replace their homes in this special part of Texas.”

Guidance on how to strengthen your property and prepare for fierce summer storms is available at no charge from IBHS, along with numerous resources to help homeowners and business owners prepare their properties for hurricanes and other severe summer storms.


About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) IBHS’ mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses, and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss.