Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared?

June 5, 2019

Hurricanes can’t be stopped, but impact-resistant products can mitigate damage and provide all-important peace of mind.
The memories of last hurricane season still linger. “Think about the stress of coming out of your house the morning after Hurricane Michael or Irma to assess the damage,” says PGT Innovations CEO and President Jeff Jackson. “You’re assessing damage, seeing what trees have been knocked down, if your house has been impacted.”
Hurricanes account for 11 of the 14 costliest disasters in the nation’s history, with Hurricane Irma resulting in more than $50 billion in damage as the fifth-costliest hurricane.
On Sept. 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida as the most intense hurricane to hit the U.S. since Katrina in 2005, and the first Category 4 hurricane to hit Florida since Charley in 2004. With gusts in Naples reaching 142 mph, the storm caused nearly $20 million in wind damage alone. Parts of the state were without power for more than a week.
The devastating losses for last year’s category 5 Hurricane Michael have now topped $6.4 billion, with 83 percent of the claims filed.
But 25 years after Hurricane Andrew knocked homes off their foundations and flattened whole zip codes, today’s improved building codes combined with state-of-the-art impact-resistant windows and doors gave many homeowners a happier ending to their Hurricane Irma storm stories. After 16 hours of weathering the storm, when they walked outside to assess their property, they experienced, as Jackson describes it, “that immediate feeling of relief.”
For 37 years, Venice-based PGT Innovations, along with its CGI and WinDoor brands, has developed and manufactured impact-resistant products that offer 24/7 storm safety upon installation — a time-saving, comparably priced alternative to hurricane shutters and an even easier, safer and more convenient alternative to improvised, amateur-installed plywood barriers. Back in the 90s, after Andrew, PGT created the first residential impact window on the market, working with county and state officials to develop a window that could withstand the same force as a cinder-block wall.
Even now, PGT Innovations continues to innovate, using every storm as a scenario that can be improved upon. Today’s new products target problems beyond wind-borne debris like water infiltration. The goal is always to get better.
The 2019 hurricane season looms. With memories of Hurricane Irma and Michael fresh in Floridians’ minds, what will we do this year to protect our property and our families, to prepare for aftermath and recovery and to help ensure we eventually feel relief when the storm passes?
September 2017, as Irma constantly shifted paths in its approach to the state, Jackson describes seeing neighbors board up their homes with plywood, and people on social media sites posting pictures of plywood shutters spray-painted with messages like, “Irma go away.”
Impact-resistant windows, on the other hand, are always prepped for a storm. “You didn’t see anything spray-painted on an impact product from PGT Innovations,” Jackson says. “They were just homes.” Likewise, homes with impact-resistant products don’t even need their homeowners to be present for hurricane prep — an especially reassuring factor for homeowners who spend the season up north. Imagine being out-of-state and trying to coordinate someone to put up shutters on your Florida home during the chaos of an approaching storm.
Jackson has a we’re-all-in-this-together attitude and stresses the importance of people to interact with others who’ve experienced the same stress and withstood the same storm — a dedication he and PGT Innovations extend to employees, dealers and distributors and their customers. In the wake of Irma and Michael, PGT Innovations contributed water, generators, gasoline, chainsaws and even Publix gift cards to its extended family. The company also extended no-interest, 12-month loans to employees in need of financial support immediately following the storm.

“We make windows and doors here,” says Jackson, “but a company by definition, means a group of people, together. That’s what PGT Innovations is about. It’s about our folks.”
And even as PGT Innovations reached out to its people, customers reached back to share their experiences — and their gratitude — after riding out the storm behind PGT Innovations manufactured windows and doors. One customer compared closing his back door — “300-pound panels that slide like butter because of our innovation,” says Jackson — to closing the door to a bank vault. Another individual described seeing the storm through PGT Innovations windows, saying, “It was like watching a hurricane outside on TV, on mute.”
A customer on Marco Island described how winds “sandblasted” the walls of his home, even embedding a piece of concrete into his window. The interior was never compromised. “Had those winds gotten into my home,” the customer wrote to Jackson, “my home would’ve been destroyed.”
“There’s always going to be stress during a storm,” says Jackson, but a sense of security can help lead to that all-important sense of relief when the storm passes. “It’s the fact that you can sit in your house and see the storm — not hear it — but see the storm pass and think, ‘We’re going to make it. We’re going to get through this.’”
Click here for our storm readiness page that has information on how you can prepare for a storm and learn more about hurricane protection.
Click here to download our hurricane resource guide for keeping yourself, your loved ones, and your property safe throughout this year’s hurricane season.