Wind-driven rain drives damage costs
02 Nov 2018
New research by James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station has identified a simple and easy to install mitigation initiative could prevent major damage to homes caused by wind-driven water ingress.
The new report commissioned in partnership by Suncorp and IAG, analysed strata and house property claims from Tropical Cyclones Marcia and Debbie to investigate potential mitigation measures to make homes in North Queensland more resilient.
The report revealed 70 per cent of strata property claims examined included damage caused by water ingress, despite the majority of properties withstanding severe structural damage.
David Henderson from the Cyclone Testing Station said the insights are beneficial for everyone living in cyclone-prone areas.
“Wind-driven rain is likely to enter through weepholes or gaps around window seals or doors, under missing or damaged flashings and gutters, or through eaves – features relevant to all properties,” Mr Henderson said.
“The water damage was largely caused to plasterboard wall linings and ceilings, floor coverings, electricity wiring, cabinetry and personal items - damage ranged from two to 60 per cent of total claim costs.
“Of the residents who reported minimal or no water damage via windows, was inbuilt seals blocking weepholes, a useful learning for residents and the building sector.”
A Wind Driven Rain Simulator (WDRS) was used to mimic real life wind-driven rain conditions to determine the most cost-effective measures for home owners to reduce water ingress.
“After testing several solutions, we found a cheap and easy way for homeowners to fend off water coming in through windows and sliding doors - a strip of plastic sheet taped on the inside of the window. The plastic sheet increased the height of the window sill, caught the water and allowed it to drain via the weep holes,” Mr Henderson said.
Suncorp CEO Insurance, Gary Dransfield said the rain cyclones bring can be extreme and damaging to home and communities.
“Water can wreak havoc in a cyclone - past events have found buildings that appeared visibly fine disguised significant interior damage caused by wind-driven rain throughout the home,” Mr Dransfield said.
“These insights are a call to action for residents about the importance of home maintenance and pre-cyclone preparations. It’s also why we need to be extra vigilant in how we design and build homes, and unit blocks.”
Mr Dransfield said preparation and home mitigation is the best way for people to prepare themselves, their loved ones and their homes against cyclones
“Now is the time for communities living in cyclone-prone regions to complete a thorough inspection of their property for any structural issues like cracked roof tiles or broken veranda posts, and non-structural elements like sealant around window sills.”
IAG Executive General Manager Short Tail Claims, Steve Fitzpatrick, said this simple mitigation initiative can not only help reduce the physical and financial costs of natural disasters, but the social and emotional impacts as well.
“Extreme weather events such as cyclones, can be a frightening and devastating experience for people and communities and the economic, social and emotional impacts can be long lasting,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“Our priority is always the safety of our customers before, during and after a natural disaster or severe weather event and this includes identifying mitigation initiatives to help reduce the risks they face and ensure they’re better prepared and protected should they be impacted in the future.
“The Cyclone Testing Station has identified a simple and effective measure to help protect peoples’ homes and I’d urge residents in cyclone prone regions to make sure they – and their neighbours, make it part of their storm season preparations.”
*James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station analysed claims from Tropical Cyclone Debbie and Marcia. North Queensland Study into Water Damage from Cyclones.