Life in Louisiana comes with so many joys (the music! the food! the culture! the historic architecture!) but also more than a few challenges. And dealing with severe weather is definitely high on the challenges list. 

The good news is that historic preservation and sustainable stewardship can play an important part in making our historic city more climate resilient. After all, saving buildings means saving carbon. 

But as city, state and national policy makers focus on big-picture climate resilience projects, homeowners still need to be proactive in protecting their properties.

Preparing for a Storm

Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but it’s not uncommon for tropical storms and hurricanes to form as early as May, as most New Orleans residents know.

With that in mind, here are some tips for preparing for hurricane season and beyond: 

Start in your yard 

  • When it comes to hurricane prep, the best advice is to start early. Before June, take a walk around your home and yard, looking for potential problems. Are tree branches hanging low over your home? Prune those away now. Dead trees should also be removed. Look for signs of rot or decayed areas around tree trunks, advised retired LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill in the May 2020 Preservation in Print magazine. “Large, older water oaks (Quercus nigra) are of particular concern. They tend to develop extensive trunk rot as they age and are one of the most common tree species that blow over in hurricanes. Mature water oaks are large trees 60 to 80 feet tall and are very destructive to buildings when they fall. If you have mature water oaks, have them professionally evaluated by a licensed arborist,” Gill said. 
  • When in doubt, hire a professional arborist to inspect all of the trees around your home. And don’t wait until a storm is threatening to make that call. Arborists become very busy during hurricane season. A list of licensed arborists by parish is available on the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s website. 

Remove unhealthy trees and branches now to protect your home from hurricane damage | Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans ( 

Close your shutters, but first, make sure they’re functional. 

How to make sure your shutters are hurricane ready | Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans ( 

If you have functional shutters on your home, congratulations. These wonderful architectural elements do so much more than just add historic charm to your home. They make storm prep a snap as long as they function properly. 

Shutters also dampen street noise, provide privacy and filter out sunlight, reducing heating and cooling costs. If your home is missing historically accurate shutters, you can find salvaged options at architectural salvage stores or have custom shutters made at a mill shop. If you live in a historic district, be sure to check with the city’s Historic District Landmarks Commission before buying or making new shutters. 

Tips for making sure your shutters are in working order: 

  • Check the hardware: Can you securely lock the shutters? Can you secure them in an open position? Look for the presence of the slide bolts and upper and lower door bolts, as well as the “shutter dogs” or shutter hooks, which typically are iron pieces that hold the shutters in the open position. Are the hooks frozen from rust or paint? 
  • Inspect the hinges: Shutter hinges come in several different types, including lift-off hinges (also known as pin hinges), Acme Mortise hinges, strap hinges and barrel hinges. 
  • Open and close your shutters: Make certain they work properly. 
  • Check the louver bar: Is it connected to the louvers? Missing louvers can be milled at a local mill shop and easily replaced. 
  • Check for rot: Most wooden shutters can be repaired if needed. However, the repair of rails and stiles could require that the shutter be taken apart and put back together, said Matthew Thompson, owner of Silvarum LLC, a woodworking shop in the Bywater that specializes in repairing and recreating historically appropriate architectural elements and custom furniture designs. Thompson recommends that if your shutter has extensive damage, it might be necessary to have new shutters milled. 

Don’t let moisture sneak in 

  • If you don’t have functional shutters, boarding your windows when a storm threatens is a good habit. Have plywood cut to fit your openings before hurricane season begins. Then mark each board, so you know quickly where they fit on the house. (Hurricane prep is stressful enough without trying to figure out the puzzle of which board goes where.) 
  • Once the storm has passed, don’t forget to seal the holes left from those boarding jobs. Nail or screw holes in window casings can lead to moisture intrusion, rot, failing paint and other issues. You may use a wood filler, applying it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to sand it so the spot is level with the window’s wooden surface. Then prime and paint the area. 


Freeze prep long before winter 

  • On a warm, sunny day, the last thing most homeowners are thinking about is a freeze. But that’s the time to prepare for one. Don’t wait for a freeze warning to run to the hardware store for pipe insulation. It won’t be there, as most stores sell out of materials quickly when winter weather is in the forecast. 
  • Since the location of your pipes and the construction of your home will influence how best to protect your property, it’s best to consult a licensed plumber long before a freeze if you have questions. 
  • Don’t ignore the garden hose bib. Protect outdoor faucets with faucet covers. When temperatures are about to drop below freezing, drain and disconnect garden hoses. 
  • Locate the water shut-off valve to your home. If you have a frozen pipe that has burst, you’ll need to shut off the water as you make repairs. 

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