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Preparing for a hurricane before & after it hits

Every summer, an increasing number of people face the potential threat of hurricanes. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 60 million people live in the 185 counties lining the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States. Add in the population living away from the coast, but still in the path of dangerous storms, and that number swells much higher.   During violent storms, high winds, heavy rain and floodwaters can combine to damage property and endanger personal safety. Insurance will cover hurricane damage, but most classic car owners will want to do whatever they can to avoid damage to their prized machines. Here are a few tips from Hagerty on how to minimize damage during a storm, and if damage is sustained, how to mitigate lasting impacts in the hours and days following heavy weather.  
  • Draw up an evacuation plan. You should have an idea where you and your family will go if the weather gets dangerous, but you can also incorporate classic vehicles into the plan. Make sure you leave plenty of time to move the vehicles so you can avoid getting caught in the storm. Your safe locations should be on high ground, away from trees and other large objects that could cause damage. It's always better to park indoors if possible.
  • Store important documents related to ownership and provenance in a waterproof, fireproof container. Make sure it's accessible in case you need to grab it in a hurry on the way out the door.
  • Remember that your safety comes first. It's better to lose a car than it is to lose your life, so if an approaching storm threatens your safety, evacuate or take cover.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Knowing which direction a storm is headed and how bad it will be helps you make informed decisions.
  • Do your best to storm-proof the garage. Secure objects that can float, in case of flooding. Move or secure wall- or ceiling-mounted objects that could fall on the vehicle. Park the car facing out, in case it needs to be towed out later. Reinforce your garage door with 2x4s to protect against the force of floodwaters.
Of course sometimes, even the best efforts at prevention are for naught, and a vehicle can sustain damage. Here are a few ways to keep it to a minimum.
  • Safety first. Be aware of sharp or potentially dangerous debris where the vehicle has been stored. Don't go in if there has been extensive structural damage, or if the electrical system might be a safety risk. Do not try to start the engine until you have completed a full assessment of the vehicle's condition.
  • In case of flooding, observe the high-water mark. If the car has been submerged, assume that it will need a total restoration.
  • Check the engine oil, transmission fluid and differential oil for water and other contaminants. A little water isn't good, but the presence of mud, leaves and other debris usually means disassembly and thorough cleaning will be necessary. Make sure there's no water in the cylinder bores (usually by removing the spark plugs and rotating the engine if the oil is clean). Once you've gotten any water out of the cylinder bores, squirt some oil in each one to lubricate the rings and prevent seizing.
  • Change all fluids. Brake fluid is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture.
  • Clean and rinse the engine bay, undercarriage and body with mild detergent and fresh water.
  • Remove interior parts like seats, carpet, headliners and padding as needed. Saltwater is especially pernicious and should be rinsed off with fresh water. These parts should be dry before they're reinstalled.
  • Inspect the electrical system. Blow out exposed connections with compressed air. Cleaning electrical components like gauges and motors will take a long time, but it's worth it. The time you spend cleaning and drying things now will save time and money later.

Republished with permission of Hagerty.