HYANNIS, Mass. — With climate change creating more intense weather events across the country, many Americans are looking to better prepare their homes for the impacts of severe storms.
As the sustainability program director for Cape Air, Jim Wolf is intensely involved in the fight to combat climate change. On a recent unusually warm fall morning, Wolf was on the roof of an airport hanger at Hyannis Airport, overseeing crews who were inspecting the company’s nearly 10-year-old array of solar panels.
Wolf lives on Cape Cod, a peninsula in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean a part of Massachusetts, and now has a front-row seat to climate change—from rising sea levels to more intense storms.
"The erosion of Cape Cod is visible in every one of those storms, we are really the canary in the coal mine," Wolf said.
As a result, Wolf has found himself among a growing number of Americans slowly readying his home for the impacts of climate change. He started with the installation of solar panels last month. At the height of the summer, the panels will likely be producing enough electricity to power Wolf's entire home.
Eventually, though, his hope is for battery storage for all the electricity he generates so that when a storm knocks power out, he’s not in the dark.
"There is no doubt about it we are doing it because we can impact how well things go," he said.
According to FEMA, nearly one-third of all US counties experienced a weather disaster this year. It’s estimated the insurance costs from extreme weather events in 2021 will top $99 billion.
Anne Cope, with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, often recommends homeowners looking to make their properties more resilient to the impacts of climate change start with the roof.
Fortified roofs often better protect homes from water and wind damage in the even shingles that are blown off during a storm.
"That will keep the water out if you lose asphalt shingles, keeping the water out is an amazing reduction in damage," Cope said. "Mother Nature is just knocking on our door and we need to be ready, have our homes, communities, the places we live and play, they need to be resilient to what Mother Nature is doing."
Back at Wolf’s house, he’s taken some smaller steps to prepare for more intense storms, trimming the trees around his property to protect his house from flying debris.
"We have the opportunity to react faster, we see it happen in every storm," he said.
Wolf and other Americans are just trying to be as prepared as possible with so much at stake.