Full basements are virtually unheard of anywhere in Florida. Between a high water table and a location right on the coast, full basements are all but impossible to build. Homes in Hollywood and much of the rest of the state are instead built on cement slab foundations. Occasionally, we do see small crawl spaces underneath homes. These crawl spaces often come with their own set of problems, including uncontrolled humidity and dampness. Foundation damage in Hollywood is often caused by hurricanes, tree roots, and floods.
While the rest of the country struggles to stay warm in January, residents of Hollywood and the rest of Broward County get to enjoy temperatures in the mid-70s. Even in the evenings, the temperature stays well above freezing throughout the year. While it seems like the weather is near-perfect, no city is without its potential for natural disasters. And for Hollywood, that means hurricanes.
The city of Hollywood encourages its residents to have a hurricane preparedness plan in place. Hurricanes can strike without warning, and they are a fact of life in southern Florida. The city can experience hurricanes between June and November each year. Historically, hurricane season peaks in the area in early September. Most of the hurricanes that affect the Hollywood area originate in the Caribbean.
Many hurricanes are mild, but strong ones will damage the natural landscape. Like most communities, Hollywood values its trees. Tree canopy is not only beautiful to look at, but the presence of trees often increases property values and reduces crime rates. Trees also provide natural shade and help lower the energy costs associated with air conditioning. Trees that are native to southern Florida are also naturally more hurricane resistant. Trees common and thrive in this area include sand live oak, American holly, wax myrtle, and sweetgum.
Any time new trees are planted, care must be taken to select the right tree for space. That means taking into account how tall a tree can grow and how long its roots can grow. Trees add beauty and value to the landscape, but they can also wreak havoc on a home’s foundation. That’s because tree roots can grow up against or even underneath a foundation, exerting enough force to cause movement and cracking. Take our word when we say that our native trees’ roots that are strong enough to stay in the ground during a hurricane are also strong enough to move a home’s foundation! If tree roots are already problematic, there may be options besides tree removal. Installing vertical tree root barriers can mitigate the damage from existing tree roots. These underground barriers act as shields that separate tree roots from a home’s foundation.
In some parts of the country, earthquakes cause substantial damage to building foundations. But unlike that “other” Hollywood on the West Coast, our Hollywood, FL is not on a fault line. While earthquakes in the northern part of Florida have occurred recently, they have not been strong enough to cause any structural damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assigns a “seismic design category” to every part of the U.S. These categories are used by the building design and construction industries and take into account how much shaking would occur during an earthquake in that specific area. Florida has the lowest SDC rating of “A,” which signifies a “very small probability of experiencing damaging earthquake effects.”
Floods, on the other hand, are an issue in parts of Hollywood, FL. The city is a mosaic of areas that are both in a floodplain and areas that are not. When consulting Hollywood FL’s flood map, one must know the exact street address for the building they want to look up. Flood threats can vary block by block and even street by street. The city as a whole has been given a “Classification of 8” by the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.
Flooding exposes your porous concrete to water intrusion, and it can also soak into the soil, making it heavier. When this happens, the resulting hydrostatic pressure can crack your concrete and cause instability.
Climate change also has the potential to increase flooding along Hollywood’s coast. The city is aware of how climate change will impact the tide levels. By 2060, it is predicted that “sunny day flooding events” could occur 226 days each year in Hollywood. The Broward County Commission is considering requiring higher heights for sea walls.