Construction companies at work in Florida are shutting down job sites in advance of Hurricane Irma, particularly those highway projects that could hinder evacuations from the southern part of the state, according to the Sun Sentinel. The state has also suspended tolls to ease congestion.
Highway workers are removing plastic cones and other lightweight barriers so they do not take flight during the storm and cause damage to surrounding property. Road maintenance crews will also be on duty to keep roads clear during the storm.
A particular concern is securing the cranes in South Florida, according to CBS News. There are currently 25 cranes in Miami that cannot be taken down prior to Irma making landfall, creating a potential for them to fall into surrounding buildings if winds are strong enough.
A raging storm like Irma can wreak havoc on construction sites. Contractors facing extreme weather events are advised to remove objects that could become airborne due to high winds or swept away in a flood. Utility systems underway should be protected, cranes and other large equipment secured, and documents and technology taken to a dry, secure place to ride out the storm. Openings in the structure under construction should be closed off, unfinished assemblies tied down and hazardous chemicals taken off-site.
Companies and job sites regularly in the path of storms should have a plan in place to efficiently prepare for a storm and regularly monitor the weather. Local building departments may also want to know a contractor's plans for keeping area job sites safe during storms.
The contractor's responsibility extends to the aftermath of a storm. That includes removing excess water on the property that could otherwise soften the ground and threaten the structural integrity of neighboring properties. However, pumping water out to the street sewer is not always a viable option. Overwhelmed sewer systems may not be able to handle additional water, requiring contractors to hire a water removal service.
Engineering News-Record reported that contractors in the southern part of Texas are helping emergency workers clear roads and reestablish basic services, such as water and power, to flooded communities after Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast last week. Access to power remains a struggle throughout the region, particularly in coastal towns and cities that took the brunt of the storm. Damage from the storm is considerable, and more details concerning the extent of that damage are being revealed as the flood waters recede and the area begins to dry out.