A lesson from Hurricane Zeta that could save money next time | Environment

Hurricane Zeta’s surprisingly significant damage to Louisiana, largely attributed to lost roofing that allowed water damage in homes, should be seen by property owners as an incentive to take steps now to prevent similar damage in future storms, says Ian Giammanco , a meteorologist researcher and wind engineer at the bij Insurance Institute for Building and Home Safety.

One way to do that is to follow the STRENGTHENS construction and roof repair program when making home repairs, either after storm damage or to reduce the likelihood of damage prior to future storms. Following the guidelines can help a homeowner lower their annual insurance premiums, as many insurance companies offer discounts when they prove such improvements have been completed.


The roofing recommendations in the program are aimed at increasing the resilience of roofs against the effects of hurricane-force winds. They include sealing the seams between the roof deck’s plywood sheets under clapboards and using “ring-shank” nails, which have ribs that double their resistance to wind uplift.

But it’s up to the homeowner to make sure the contractor he chooses for the repairs is qualified to do the job, Giammanco said.

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“My Baton Rouge parents put this on a REINFORCED roof two years ago,” Giammanco said. “But they had to go through four different roofers to get someone who would recognize that you had to do this and who knew how.”

Zeta is now considered one of the most expensive tropical systems ever in the New Orleans area

Florida and some coastal Alabama counties have changed their mandatory building codes to require roofers to follow standards similar to those in the FORTIFIED program, he said. Louisiana doesn’t have that. However, the Louisiana legislature passed a law this year encouraging contractors to use the REINFORCED standards beginning in 2022.

Giammanco and officials at the Louisiana Department of Insurance said that even before that law goes into effect, many insurance companies will cut premiums if they provide proof that the standards have been used on roof repairs or replacements.

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