Post-Hurricane Matthew: What to Do to Prepare Your Home

Waves break over the church and the castle in Camogli, Italy

Risk mitigation.

It’s a term that typically comes up after every major storm —Hurricane Matthew being the latest to wreak havoc — as homeowners are warned that many houses are simply no match for high winds, and that prudence dictates that they act to help protect themselves and their property from future tempests.

If you think those warnings are needlessly alarmist, so too did all those New Yorkers who got pummeled by Hurricane Sandy.

So what should homeowners do, proactively, to increase their odds of beating Mother Nature?

Read on.

• Clean your gutters. Even in beautiful weather, Angie’s List says you’re looking at a potential “nightmare” if they’re so clogged with mounds of leaves, sticks, and other debris that it causes your roof to leak. Couple that with a hurricane-strength rainstorm, though, and the very roofing system that’s meant to control the flow of all that water — thereby protecting your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape from flooding — can suddenly be rendered about as useful as a virus-infected laptop.

“If you let gutter  cleaning go by the wayside, it can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the website cautions.

   • Reinforce your windows. Is there anything more to say than

Of course not, which is why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — in describing windows as “particularly vulnerable” — recommends springing for either impact-resistant glazing or permanent storm shutters. (A grief-saving tip from FEMA: “Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.”)

    • Make sure roof is in good condition. Even though a manufacturer’s warranty typically doesn’t cover roof damage caused by disasters such as hurricanes — check your home insurance policy for that — experts date what they call an “upsurge” of interest in stronger roofs back to 2011’s Hurricane Irene. News footage of all those battered homes in states such as Delaware, North Carolina, and Virginia was that gut-wrenching.

“If you are going to replace your roof, consider shingles that have passed the UL2218, Class 4 impact test, the toughest in the industry,” says Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence. Joplin especially likes the Timberline ArmorShield II line of shingles from GAF (, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, which — in addition to looking good — are made with what he describes as “a rubber-like material for enhanced flexibility and durability during the extreme weather conditions.”

Added bonus? Depending on where you live, the shingles may also qualify for significant discounts on that homeowners insurance.

    • Trim weak tree branches. Not to belabor the dangerous projectile angle, but ask yourself this: Unless you’re five years old, would you even want Santa Clause crashing into your house at hurricane-strength speeds?

And while you’re mulling that over, remember that Matthew might not be it for the year. Both the Atlantic and the East Pacific hurricane season runs through November 30.

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