Hurricane season has returned, and forecasters say it will be an extremely active one. Hurricanes cause heavy rains and high winds that can result in extensive damage in coastal and inland areas.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina, that hit Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, was declared to be the most destructive natural disaster and one of the five deadliest in U.S. history. It claimed 1,833 lives and caused more than $108 billion dollars in damage.
Prepare Your Home
Although not all hurricanes are as disastrous as Katrina, it’s a good idea to prepare as if Katrina were on the way. Here are recommended steps to take that may minimize damage to your home.
- Cover all windows with marine plywood or storm shutters
- Reinforce your garage doors. Wind entering a garage can cause expensive structural damage.
- Install straps or clips to your roof to reduce the damage caused by wind.
- Trim your trees and shrubs around your home so they are more wind resistant.
- Bring in outdoor items that are not tied down.
Prepare Your Coverage
Because storms are unpredictable, it is difficult to determine how much, if any, damage your property may sustain. Insurance coverage for these storms is most likely provided through your homeowners policy. Higher-risk areas may have a separate deductible that is 3-5% of the value of the dwelling. If there is any doubt that your home or auto insurance policies cover hurricane damage, contact your local agent for confirmation.
If You Can’t Evacuate
When a hurricane is on its way, evacuation is best—especially if you live in a mobile home or temporary structure. If you are unable to evacuate, take the appropriate precautions to stay safe in your home or shelter, which may include:
- Keep a prepared survival kit close by. The kit should include basic household items such as water, non-perishable food, batteries, radio, flashlight, first aid and more. Click here to see a complete list of items are recommended by FEMA.
- Go to an established storm shelter. To find the nearest shelter in your area, from your mobile phone, text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) or contact FEMA by calling 800-333-4636.
- Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors. Keep all curtains, blinds and interior doors shut.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- In high-rise buildings, move to a safer location as winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- Keep tuned into your local television or radio station so that you will have up-to-date information regarding the hurricane.
Local officials have the best interest of the residents in mind and will provide information as they receive it. Stay tuned to the local weather and evacuate as soon as it is recommended that you do. The safety of you and your family is most important.
Guest blogger Parrish Robertson joined the Willis Personal Lines team in 2011, where she services clients in the family office practice, farm and ranch specialty program, and small commercial placements for existing personal lines clients.