By: Kevin Duffy
Over the course of 2016, we have gone from a Polar Vortex to a Heat Dome, and now according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it looks like it’s going to be a stronger than anticipated hurricane season. In fact, it may be the worst since 2012, when super storm Sandy caused millions of dollars worth of damage and displaced thousands of people in the New York metro area.
In general, it’s wise to have a personal Hurricane Preparedness Plan in place. This plan may include: developing an evacuation plan, checking your residential insurance policy, buying copious amounts of canned food that you’ll never otherwise use, and reviewing emergency drills with the family. In addition to this type of preparedness, building owners and property managers should consider protecting their building before hurricane season causes any havoc.
While it’s always a good idea to review the exterior of your building, doing so before the typically high winds and heavy driving rain hit buildings with ongoing construction projects is imperative. Certain precautions should be taken to safeguard your building before unsecured equipment and materials harm the public or your property, or water infiltration at unprotected work areas damages the building’s envelope and interior.
Firstly, the possibility of catastrophic failure must be averted. All cranes and suspended scaffolding must be properly secured to avoid collapse, and if possible, suspended scaffolding should be stored at or near ground level rather than on the roof.
Secondly, all job site materials, including plywood, insulation boards, brick, roof shingles, membrane rolls, etc. should be properly stored or secured. All equipment, including portable toilets, chutes and tools must also be secured. Any and all debris should be removed from the site.
It’s very important to protect any work locations against water infiltration. Tarps should be tightly secured at all incomplete facade work. Any unfinished roof work should be properly sealed, and drains should be cleared so they can handle excess water.
Emergency contact information for the owner, the contractor, the owner’s representative, the property manager, the engineer, the architect, and any other relevant parties should be provided to all prior to a severe storm. And of course, if there’s suspected property damage, approach the project site with caution and involve the proper authorities.
Besides the West Nile virus, this hurricane season brings with it the added threat of the Zika virus. The NYC Department of Buildings recently sent out an email advising all building owners and contractors to take steps to eliminate standing water from job sites and properties throughout the city. Owners are reminded to clear rain gutters, cover garbage cans, cover wading pools and frequently change the water in birdbaths. Additionally, Sullivan Engineering recommends inspecting your building’s roof system for ponding water.
To keep up with additional DOB updates, we encourage all building owners and contractors to sign up for NYC Dept. of Buildings updates.