State grant helps Conway homeowner strengthen roof for hurricanes

Crew working on David Morrissette's home in Conway.

CONWAY, SC (WPDE) - Hurricane season officially ends next month and storms like Sandy, that form this late in the year, are rare. To improve the safety of his home during severe weather, one Horry County man is taking advantage of SC Safe Home, a hurricane damage and mitigation program.

Nearly 20 years ago, David Morrissette moved to Conway from Massachusetts. Over that time he's seen many storms come across our area.

"We've sat in this house when some of the hurricanes have come through and watched those trees in the back here just about bend over and we kept saying are we gonna stay here or we gonna leave," says Morrissette.

After filling out an application online, Morrissette was awarded a $5,000 grant to go towards retrofitting his roof.

Thursday, a crew from Johnson Roofing replaced the decking, added an ice and water shield, then shingles.

"We re-nail with this eight-inch ring shack nail which will not come out. The idea of this is to keep the sheeting on," explains Sammy Johnson. He's one of several contractors trained to do work under the program. Since he became certified for the state program four years ago, about 70 percent of his work is on projects like the one at Morrissette's home.

"The intent of this program is to help homeowners strengthen their property, make their property less vulnerable to the high winds associated with hurricanes and natural disasters," says Ann Roberson with the SC Department of Insurance.

Johnson's team is also reinforcing the gables, or ends of the home.

"As they've shown in studies the gable is the first thing that goes on most homes, and if you can keep it intact most of the time, you can save the rest of it," adds Johnson.

"That's the important thing, is the safety of my home," says Morrissette. "Know that with the wind factors that we can withstand now that's going to help. You know maybe we can stay here a little bit longer without having to go out on 501 and face all that heavy traffic."

All the work being done will allow Morrisette's roof to withstand winds up to 150 miles per hour, which is beyond what the code requires.

Not only will Morrisette feel more at ease as storms approach our coast, he'll like receive a reduction on his insurance bill.

"On average I would say our homeowners are seeing about a 24 to 25 percent reduction in their premium cost," explains Roberson.

Since 2007, SC Safe Home has awarded more than 2,800 grants with more than 1,100 going to coastal homeowners in Horry County.

The state is also looking to train more contractors next month. Click here for more information.

There is a waiting list for the Safe Home funds, so you're encouraged to apply now.