Flying in The Caribbean

 

The season is upon us. This year promises to be lively, with predicted bad weather being a total of 12 named storms,
five hurricanes and two major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger: 111-129 mph), according to the forecast prepared by Colorado State University.

With any luck, we may be able to say in hindsight that "a promise is a fool's bargain".
But we make our own luck, so with no time to waste, let's get down to business.


There are two major contributors which cause serious damage in the Caribbean when a hurricane does its worst; rain and wind. To my mind, those words are resolved by good drainage and secure roofs, but could equally take a negative turn at blocked drains and flying debris.

We have all heard the almost legendary tales of hurricanes relocating huge weights across almost ridiculous distances.  My personal favorite, which I witnessed, is the huge dent in the front yard of a Montserrat resident after Hurricane Hugo.  A full black plastic water tank was wind driven a few hundred yards, landing in the resident's garden.

That is an extreme case, but it is a fact that simple, unsecured items, as benign as they may appear, become missiles and rockets, death stars and hatchets, when fired at the speed of hurricane sustained winds.

Building sites and places where loose items have been stacked, are at particular risk.

Steel roof sheeting, no matter what length, will fly like paper on the breeze, only to crash, gouge, smash or worse, almost anything they land on.  The same for metal fittings and flashing if unsecured. Timber, regardless of its weight will do the same.

The Rule is "Expect and plan for the unexpected".

If you are in the throes of building, inspect your site, with your contractor.  Look for large objects which could become dislodged, especially on a slope, unsecured scaffolding and anything which may fall. Plywood can be a magic carpet, doing as much damage as roof sheeting and the makeshift builder’s shed could be an accident waiting to happen.  Jack up cement bags off ground level and cover with plastic.  
You get my point.

The old dictum of 'a clean site is an efficient site' is less that lightly, so be vigilant and ask your contractor to be the same; he is supposed to be responsible for your materials and building, so let him be so.

Our old friend water will also show its head as a formidable enemy on an unstable, disrupted building site, when the whole area is in transition.

“We were going to…” is not an acceptable answer when a natural water course was partially dammed or rerouted during dry weather, only to become Niagara Falls during a storm and undermine or demolish weeks or months of work. There are solutions to create temporary workarounds. It is neglect, incompetence or laziness to disregard potential disasters.

Above all, try to get your incomplete construction as secure and weather resistant as possible.  During the storm season, extra care must be taken to maintain a rigorous schedule for completion, with little left to chance.

With the construction site taken care of, turn your eagle eye to your home surroundings.

If your roof is secure, then you are ahead of the game; windows and doors, the same.  Gutters, downpipes, runoffs and drains are clear and all loose items in and around your house and garden are on lockdown.

Now you can reflect on why you contacted ECMIL for such an extensive list of building materials, from rebar and welded mesh to strengthen and secure your concrete and block work, to Colorbond® roof sheeting, guttering and accessories to create the best possible shelter for your family. And if those were not enough, the chain link fencing to secure all of your great choices.

If you still have outstanding doubts, or are new to storm protection, call ECMIL’s friendly sales department today and find solutions to secure your precious investments from flying in the Caribbean.

NB. This article is for general information purposes only and is meant as an incentive to the reader, who should then research and seek advice from their architectural and construction professionals to confirm that the ideas expressed are possible within the building codes of their territory or within the limitations of their home's architecture. ECMIL only recommends their own products and third party products which they supply, as part of their company's roofing solutions to customers.

East Caribbean Metals Industries Limited . Campden Park Industrial Estate . St. Vincent & The Grenadines  West Indies . T: +1 784 456 1843    F: +1 784 457 7641    E: info@ecmil.net