Evacuate if home unsafe, Hurricane Sally damages

Annie Blanks, Pensacola News Journal
Published 9:20 a.m. CT Oct. 6, 2020



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As Hurricane Delta continues its path eastward on its way to what could grow into a Category 4 hurricane, Pensacola area residents still recovering from Hurricane Sally should be prepared to seek shelter elsewhere as there is little hope of completing the repairs necessary to make their homes safe.

Rob Zimmerman, a contractor of 17 years and president of Emerald Coast Constructors, told the News Journal on Monday that nearly all of the area’s licensed and insured contractors are already over-booked due to Hurricane Sally.

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Zimmerman said he’s telling his clients who had flood damage to stop doing any work right now to sheetrock or drywalls, because the incoming storm could roll back any progress that’s already been made.

He also said those who have damage to the “envelope” of their home – like holes in the roofs or walls, or windows blown out – that can’t be repaired by Friday should go ahead and seek shelter elsewhere.

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“You kind of have to think about it this way: if a person has a damaged house already, then the envelope of their house is not secure,” Zimmerman said. “Whenever the strong winds are blowing over, it creates a negative pressure, so if you have a whole in the envelope your house can depressurize quickly and can literally be blown apart.”

Zimmerman said it’s a good idea to charge any power tools in advance, like chainsaws or drills, before the storm hits in case power goes out. Also have basic construction materials on hand like nails, 2-by-4 plywood, and extra tarps to secure dangerous situations immediately after the storm.

In 17 years, Zimmerman said he’s never had back-to-back storms within three weeks of each other, and he’s “very nervous” about where the storm is headed.

“I would imagine a lot of people are hitting the panic button right now,” he said. “The big thing is just following the most basic steps: make sure all your vehicles are filled up, that you have water and food supplies, and all your medications and everything are on hand.”

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