FEMA experts offer construction tips

FEMA experts offer construction tips

May 30th, 2011 by Kate Belz in News

FEMA community outreach and education specialist Richard Boswell, left, talks with Tim Hustad at the Home Depot in East Brainerd on Sunday about tips and techniques to prevent and lessen damage from future disasters. Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press


• Reinforce house framing with steel brackets, straps, plates and other sturdy metal sturdy connectors.

• Have proper roof-sheathing panels installed, using panels 4 feet long, 15/32-inch or thicker, and rated "Exposure 1" or better. Use secure fasteners to secure the sheathing to trusses.

• Be sure composition shingles are held by at least six nails or staples atop a waterproof underlayment.

• Consider building a freestanding "safe room" with walls, ceiling and doors that can withstand high wind pressure, in your basement, atop a concrete slab on-grade foundation or garage floor, or an interior room.

For more information, visit www.fema.gov/rebuild/mitigation.shtm

No home is completely tornado-proof. But there are critical actions homeowners can take to help protect their homes from wind damage, FEMA experts say.

"The object of mitigation is to reduce the risk of hazard to families towards future disasters, as we help them overcome whatever they can during this disaster," said Richard Boswell, a Federal Emergency Management Agency specialist who was manning an information booth in the Home Depot near Hamilton Place on Sunday.

Since the beginning of May, the federal agency has posted two teams of specialists in Home Depot, Lowe's and True Value stores across the region for weeks at a time to advise homeowners on repairs and damage-prevention strategies.

On Sunday Boswell's team counseled around 100 people, advising on everything from securing house frames with strong metal brackets, to the number of nails needed to attach properly a shingle (six) to using bleach and water to rid water-damaged rooms of mold.

"A lot of the time we go over tips that people may already know. But when you're in the aftermath of a disaster, you have so much on your mind that it's easy to forget the basics," Boswell said.

Those basics include making sure to get written statements from multiple contractors for services and knowing an insurer's expectations, said Boswell.

Today FEMA teams will be at the Home Depot on Commons Boulevard and at Lowe's on Highway 153 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

They will progress to other locations in Hixson, Cleveland, Signal Mountain and elsewhere - though Boswell said their schedule is subject to quick rearrangement.

Managers at the Hamilton Place Home Depot said they couldn't comment on the company's sales in the wake of tornado damage and ensuing home repair. But the chain's revenue sank 0.2 percent during the spring quarter, according to a May 17 report from The Associated Press.

Lowe's, which reported its earnings May 16, saw its revenue drop 2 percent this spring quarter, the AP reported.

The report attributed the loss to harsh weather conditions and storms that kept shoppers indoors and discouraged them from investing in outdoor projects.