Those of us who choose to live in Florida, such as my colleagues and their families, expect the occasional hurricane. Some years are quiet, and others are much more active, such as in 2005 when Florida had four landfall hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan). The discussion with respect to oncoming hurricanes is always: Do I evacuate or stay put and ride it out? It has always been my opinion that it is best to listen to the local authorities and evacuate when requested to do so. However, many people decide on their own to stay put because, "they do not feel it's going to be that bad," or, "the forecasters are never right." With today's technologies forecasters have become much more accurate about where a hurricane will land.
Which brings us to Hurricane Michael.
For days the forecast was for Michael to make landfall around Panama City, Florida. That forecast turned out to be quite accurate. The issue this time was Michael's strength. Just 48 hours before landfall Michael was a Category 1 storm. However, by the time Michael made landfall it was a massive Category 4 storm, only one mile per hour from Category 5 status. A storm of this magnitude can be devastating to life and property. In looking at the initial damage caused by Michael, "devastation" seems too mild of a word. Homes have just disappeared. Piers and bridges washed away. Trees left with no leaves. It is difficult to comprehend the depth of the damage. As a result, people who live and work in the damaged areas want to assess their homes and businesses and start the recovery process.
In that regard, we at EDT would like to stress a word of caution...
Stop and listen to the local authorities. It may not be safe to rush in and investigate. They will let you know when it's OK to return. While repair and recovery are on everyone’s mind right now, there is still significant potential for the loss of human life. Roadways and bridges remain susceptible to collapse. Buildings may not be structurally sound. Downed power lines could still be live. During times like these, it is best to first let the professionals who can safely conduct these evaluations do their jobs before you return.
EDT has engineers with experience and training to assess these very conditions. As forensic engineers, we understand the potential dangers associated with a catastrophic event. We strive to aid in the recovery process. Our engineers are trained in the evaluation of structural, mechanical and electrical damage. We understand root cause analysis, especially when separating wind-related damage from storm surge and/or flooding. Our large loss engineers assist in the determination of damage and value of loss for large commercial and industrial properties. Our goal is to work as a team to resolve issues, so that people may go back to living their lives.
To submit a Hurricane Michael related file, click here.