Most Americans still remember the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. This was one of the most powerful storms of this type in history, reaching category 5 with sustained winds of over 160 miles per hour. Most of the country recently dodged a bullet when Hurricane Matthew made a pass up the east coast. This was the first storm to reach category 5 status since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

Matthew formed as a tropical wave near the west coast of Africa and began its track across the Atlantic. Along the way, it formed into a tropical storm and later a hurricane. The storm caused major damage in Haiti and the Bahamas. It also produced heavy rains and high storm surges from Florida to the Carolinas before tracking back out to sea and dissipating.

Floods from the storm were seen as far inland as 40 miles in North Carolina. Even though this storm did not make a landfall in the US while at its full strength, it did cause significant flooding and wind damage all along the east coast during its passage. There was one officially reported landfall in the US while the storm was still rated as a category 1 storm that produced sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

The damage caused by this storm was extensive and will take quite some time to assess and clean up. However, it could have been much worse had the storm maintained its intensity longer or made a more direct landfall. Its path was far enough from the coast during most of its duration that this minimized the damage felt inland.

While Matthew stayed off the east coast, it could have entered the Gulf of Mexico under other circumstances and maintained its intensity for a much longer time. Had this happened, the damage would have been much worse all along the gulf coast and inland. There could easily have been an extensive loss of life as well as property damage had this occurred.

One facet of the reconstruction following storms of this intensity is repair or replacement of damaged HVAC systems. Heating and air conditioning are essential to more than just human comfort. They can save lives when the weather turns violent or temps go to extremes. While this may be a low priority for those affected by Matthew, it can serve as a reminder to the rest of us to have our systems checked.

Regular maintenance of heating and cooling systems can help to ensure that they function when needed, no matter what the weather. Potential problems can be caught by routine inspections and repaired before they become problems. Early detection and repair can also save money.

Hurricanes are not the only natural disasters that affect us each year. They are, however, among the most damaging to life and property. For anyone rebuilding after a major storm or other disasters, installation of an appropriate system can help with the process. Even before construction is completed on structures, a well-installed system can be turned on in order to help keep those working on the reconstruction comfortable and protect materials used by controlling humidity.

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October 19, 2016 7:25 pm