Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How Charleston's stately historic homes are prepped for hurricanes like Florence

For SOBs, this ain't their first rodeo

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 12:14 PM

COURTESY OF PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF CHARLESTON
  • Courtesy of Preservation Society of Charleston
People with historic homes in downtown Charleston prepare for hurricanes a little differently than your average homeowner. Kris King, executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, chatted with us this morning about hurricane prep for those who live South of Broad (and those similarly situated.)
"Homeowners can't get up to second and third story windows," says King of storm-proofing tall downtown homes. "They hire contractors to do the work for them, and there are only so many." That means scheduling window-boarding far in advance of the average homeowner — which may be why you've seen SOB and other downtown homes boarded up for several days now.
COURTESY OF PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF CHARLESTON
  • Courtesy of Preservation Society of Charleston
Window-boarding or not, downtown houses are "so tightly configured," that they're less exposed than homes say, out on the sea islands. That's why some homeowners board one side of their house over another depending on where prevailing winds are coming from. King also says that "piazzas provide a lot of protection."
COURTESY OF PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF CHARLESTON
  • Courtesy of Preservation Society of Charleston
King says that historic homes are overbuilt structurally and, as we've seen, have withstood lots of bad weather in the past. Despite their structural sturdiness — and that tight configuration — most historic homes have a ton of windows. King's 200-year-old house has some 47 windows, natch. Remember, a couple hundred years ago there wasn't air conditioning, other than the occasional sea breeze that moved through homes' windows.
COURTESY OF PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF CHARLESTON
  • Courtesy of Preservation Society of Charleston
And what about historic homes that also serve as public sites?

While most public museums and their associated houses have extensive disaster relief plans to fall back on, King says there are some pretty basic rules that museum homes follow for keeping their precious items safe. "Pulling furniture into the center of the room, putting plastic over everything, assessing the safest place in the house," says King of how museum homes protect their goods. The safest place for these homes' items is always the second floor. You know, just in case the first floor floods and the roof blows off the third floor. Well, it's better than nothing, right?

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