TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Hurricane Matthew caused 28 deaths and billions of dollars in property damage last month in North Carolina. Those impacted by the storm are now actively working on recovery efforts, which include roof replacements and repairs. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) encourages homeowners in the state to make their roofs stronger and more resistant to severe weather when repairing or replacing them. "The roof is your home's first line of defense against Mother Nature," said Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS. "While many of us think of a roof as shingles and gutters, it is actually an integrated system with many components that work together to protect your home from the elements. That's why it is so important to make your roof as strong as possible for maximum protection from the next storm - because there will always be another storm." Rochman recommends IBHS' Roofing the Right Way, which provides specific guidelines for professional roofing contractors to follow based on IBHS' FORTIFIED Home™ roofing standards. "FORTIFIED Home is a set of engineering and construction standards IBHS developed to strengthen new and existing homes to help reduce damage from specific natural hazards, such as hurricanes. The intent of residential building codes is primarily life safety protection, not to ensure that homes are habitable after a catastrophic event or to protect the other property contained inside. By definition, building codes are and should be a minimum requirement," Rochman explained. "The FORTIFIED Home™ program works differently. It provides a uniform, voluntary, superior set of standards to upgrade the home and help improve its resilience by adding system-specific upgrades to the minimum code requirements. There are three levels of designation —Bronze, Silver and Gold — that build upon each other, allowing homeowners to choose the desired level of protection that best suits budgets and resilience goals," noted Rochman.