CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — Hurricanes are heartless, and inside a test chamber in Chester County, they try to find ways to minimize the mess Mother Nature leaves behind.

"Mother Nature is a ridiculously terrible house guest," said Anne Cope, chief engineer at Insurance Institute of House and Business Safety. "We can actually recreate a Category 3 hurricane inside right here."

From flying debris that shatters glass to pieces of wood slicing through brick, one of the most visual and destructive forces of nature is recreated inside the walls.

"What we are trying to do here is make buildings stronger and stand up to what Mother Nature brings," said Cope.

Their scientists are testing building codes and products that are used to build your home. They also point out problems that anyone can spot ahead of a hurricane.

"You want to walk around and just look. Look for things that look out of place," said Cope. "Is that gutter falling off is it hanging down?"

"So it looks like a small issue, but it could really cause a big problem in, say, the case of hurricane force winds?" asked NBC Charlotte's Xavier Walton.

"Definitely," said Cope. "If we were to experience even tropical storm winds right now they would rip through that attic and cause more pressure on that roof."

Any storm has the potential to cost homeowners big time, which is why long before your home is built, experts said there are steps that can soften the blow.

"These are the small things that keep your house tied together when the high winds blow," said Cope. "Something that is as small as a metal strap."

Experts also suggested having roofing companies use rank shank nails because they can amplify the amount of force a roof can take.

"Get out there and take a look at your roof," said Cope. "Is it in good repair or do you need to get someone out there to take a look?"


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