Strengthen Your Roof grants fortify coastal roofs
Nearly three years later, there are still ruined roofs and uninhabitable homes left in Onslow County by Hurricane Florence.
Anyone who has experienced a natural disaster knows that life can be disrupted for days or weeks without power and water and an ongoing scarcity of fuel and food. Clearing and rebuilding debris takes months or even years. Many are displaced and counting down the days before they can return to a home protected from mold and the elements. When it comes to the roof, prevention is the best medicine.
“Some things in your home can’t replace insurance,” says Gina Hardy, CEO of the North Carolina Insurance Underwriting Association (NCIUA).
North Carolina ranks second nationally in the number of homes built and covered to an elevated standard set by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), a nonprofit disaster preparedness organization that has just completed its 30,000th anniversary. designation of Fortified Home in the nation has marked . The Reinforced Stand is a voluntary set of the above design, build and customization steps that are proven to make homes stronger against severe weather.
NCIUA and IBHS launched the Strengthen Your Roof grant and improvement program to help more homeowners cover the cost of renovating their homes for protection from the destruction of severe weather.
“NCIUA is excited to partner with IBHS to help our policyholders in North Carolina’s beach communities make their homes more resilient to severe weather,” Hardy said. “By eliminating or minimizing storm damage, our policyholders can return home after a storm and quickly recover their lives.”
Only four homes of those of more than 200,000 NCIUA policyholders were fortified when the nonprofit began an effort with IBHS in 2017 to fortify more homes. Today, there are 3,126 homes in North Carolina with roofs that will hold up better than standard when the next storm blows.
IBHS has shown in lab research and real-world events that reinforced roofs reduced wind damage during major hurricanes.
“There’s a set of building codes in North Carolina that follow the International Residential Code quite effectively, but we’ve learned how to build homes, especially with extra work on roofs to withstand 235 mph winds,” said Roy Wright, president and CEO of IBHS.
The number of IBHS-reinforced roofs in North Carolina has risen from just a few hundred four years ago to about 4,000 today. 3,000 of those roofs were reinforced through subsidy programmes.
A reinforced roof is built or upgraded with three critical elements. The roof deck is secured with ring nails, the deck is sealed and the edges are locked.
“Those three pieces, along with other standard roofing practices, will position that home to withstand that heightened sense of Mother Nature’s wrath,” Wright said.
In 2019 and 2020, more than 2,500 Strengthen Your Roof grants were awarded to homeowners in North Carolina. NCIUA offered grants of up to $6,000 for roof replacement with an IBHS reinforced roof to eligible policyholders in the Outer Banks and Barrier Islands.
Funding is still available and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until December 31, or until funds run out. NCIUA has other programs in the works to help homeowners get roof assessments and reinforcement.
“Right now we have grants available in the Outer Banks and Barrier Islands, and we’re hopeful that we’ll get some additional funding so we can expand the program to our policyholders in the rest of the 18 coastal counties,” Hardy said.
NCIUA is the last resort for homeowners who cannot obtain insurance in the private market. It insures $79 billion in property values in the state. The nonprofit covered nearly $1.45 billion in total losses from Hurricane Florence in 2018, about $70 million from Hurricane Dorian in 2019, and $55 million from Hurricane Isaias last year.
“As a nonprofit, we are committed to helping them make their homes more resilient,” Hardy said. “We think it’s very important that people have a home to return to.”
Too many coastal homeowners are familiar with the severe losses and damage that can occur from high winds and wind-driven rain. According to IBHS, roof-related damage accounts for 70 to 90 percent of total insured catastrophic losses. Roof failure can disrupt family and business life after a natural disaster, derail careers and destroy financial security.
In addition to having a roof built to higher standards, a reinforced roof also gives homeowners discounts of up to seven percent on insurance premiums and a higher resale value of the home.
Historically, it has not been the easiest time to rebuild as natural disasters and the pandemic have caused a nationwide shortage of building materials and disrupted supply chains. Hardy said it’s important for policyholders in beach communities to plan ahead and not wait to apply for Strengthen Your Roof funds before they run out.
“We’re excited to be making a difference,” Hardy said.
For more information about the Strengthen Your Roof program, visit StrengthenYourRoof.com or call 1-844-627-6637.
Reporter Jennifer Rich can be reached at [email protected]