Lessons learned from the one home that survived Hurricane Michael

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The afternoon Hurricane Michael made landfall, homeowner Russell King was out of town. “We were in Tennessee watching it on camera,” he recalled.

As the Category 4 hurricane's eye sped toward the Panhandle’s coast, King's eye was glued to his security cameras, which captured it all.

“It was awful,” King continued. “The camera got turned around and we watched the pier and the homes on 37th Street get wiped out.”

After the storm, the home he and his nephew had built just a year prior was one of only two on his street still inhabitable.

“We did the things we could that we thought would increase survivability,” he said.

That included leaving vinyl out of the design process. 

“There’s not a stick of vinyl, a piece of vinyl on this house anywhere, we used Hardie board.”

They also used a full hip roof where all sides slope downwards to the walls and hundreds of hurricane clips meant to sustain 250-mile-an-hour winds. The Panhandle’s code is in the 120- to 130-mile-per-hour range. Michael’s gusts reached 150 mph.

“There’s probably $3,000 in hurricane clips up there now,” King said.

The home sustained minor damage: A broken outdoor fan, a bit of flooding, and two cracked windows. It was the strong glass, King said, that spared the house.

“This got hit by we don’t know what,” King said, his hand on one of the few broken panes. “Maybe one of our own pavers, something from the neighborhood, we don’t know. We lose this window, we could lose this house. When this window is compromised, the wind comes in and it’s looking for what to do next.”

What’s next for King is learning from what mistakes were made.

“We had an indoor-outdoor fan that was supposed to be just fine, but we learned the hard way, don’t put in a fan outside in an unenclosed area,” he said.

The wind ripped the fan down -- and the ceiling with it. Plus, no more outlets in the ceiling. 

“The ceiling outlet now have been moved from the ceiling to the wall, and we tied it in as tight as we can,” he said.

And more hurricane clips. 

“Everywhere we can find where there’s not a hurricane clip, we’re putting in a Simpson hurricane clip,” he added.

His goal is to ensure the house, built for the big one, can make it through the next one. 


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