The 2019 Hurricane Season officially began on June 1st, and so far, weather forecasters are predicting a “normal” season. While this sounds like good news, for those of us who live in Florida, the problem with “normal” is that it still means nine to fifteen named storms and at least two hurricanes with winds of 111 miles per hour or more.
In fact, scientists caution us not to let our guard down, given the prediction of a relatively quiet season. Powerful winds, rain, and flooding can cause massive destruction during a “quiet season.” As the acting deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reminds us, “It only takes one.” Just ask the people from the Florida Panhandle whose lives were forever changed by the devastation of Hurricane Michael.
So, before the hurricane season gets into full swing, it’s a good idea to take a few precautionary steps to protect your family and your property. In this blog post, I’m going to discuss four things you can do to prepare for storm season.
Have an Emergency Hurricane Plan
As I say in my latest video on hurricane preparedness, your family’s safety and well-being are the most important things to think about when you prepare for a major storm. Everything else can be repaired or replaced. So, before you do anything else, make a safety plan.
Your plan should include a way to receive emergency alerts and warnings, an evacuation plan, a communication plan, and a meeting place. Determine the best route out of your area in case of dangerous storm conditions; know how all members of your family will contact each other in case of emergency; and decide on a familiar, convenient meeting place in case you are separated and your home isn’t safe. After you’ve made these decisions, make sure everyone in your family knows what you’ve decided.
Have Emergency Supplies on Hand
Now is the time to get ready for the next big storm. If you wait until it’s approaching Orlando, all of the stores will have sold out of all the necessary supplies. Keep in mind that having wood available for covering your windows is just the beginning; you need to be prepared for loss of power and closed stores and banks.
Experts in emergency planning suggest having enough supplies to last a minimum of three days. That means having 3 gallons of water per person in your household and a good supply of non-perishable, nutritious food items that can be prepared and stored easily, since you may be without power.
You should also have supplies to take care of your energy and technology needs if you are without power. Flashlights and batteries for each family member are essential for being able to navigate in the dark. Portable cell phone chargers are also important for communication, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio will help you know about weather conditions and environmental safety issues.
Keep in mind that your emergency supply kit should also include first aid supplies, medications, insect repellent, sunscreen, and personal hygiene items. In addition, some basic tools and rain gear could be helpful. Finally, it’s important to have a copy of your Florida homeowners’ insurance policy and a record of your personal property in a safe, easy-to-access location in case your home is damaged during the storm.
Read Your Florida Homeowners Insurance Policy
After a severe storm, when you’re upset and trying to assess the damage to your home, is not a good time to be trying to figure out what your insurance policy covers. Taking time to read through it now, refresh your memory about your coverage, and ask your agent to help you understand ambiguous clauses makes a lot more sense. It might not be enjoyable reading, but it will help prevent problems later on.
Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your level and type of coverage. For instance, the value of your home might have increased significantly, or you might need special coverage for items such as jewelry, antiques, and works of art. Also, you might want to note if your policy covers items only for their cash value at the time they are damaged rather than for actual replacement cost and decide if the type of coverage you have is appropriate or not.
Another thing to remember is that any damage from water that has been on the ground is considered flood damage and is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. If overflow from a body of water, rising water, or ground water weakening your home’s structure is a possibility, you should definitely consider purchasing a flood insurance policy.
Take Pictures of Your Florida Home and Personal Property
In addition to reviewing and possibly updating your insurance policy, it’s a good idea to create or update your file documenting your personal property. Take pictures of your home, both inside and outside, to show what the structure and landscaping look like. Then tour each room, taking pictures of art work on the walls, televisions, other electronic equipment, furniture, and flooring.
These pictures will be invaluable if your home is damaged and you need to substantiate the damage for your insurance claim, so keep them in a special folder on your phone and in the cloud. Taking pictures of receipts for items shown in the pictures and for work done remodeling or improving your home and saving them in a folder is also a good idea in case repair or replacements costs are in question.
Get Advice from an Experienced Orlando Hurricane Damage Attorney
Hopefully, the 2019 Hurricane Season will be uneventful, but, as we know, even one severe storm can cause extensive damage. If your property is damaged and you have questions or concerns about how to proceed with your insurance claim, please don’t hesitate to call the experienced Florida hurricane damage attorneys at Malik Law. We are available 24/7 to help you
We’ve helped hundreds of clients throughout Florida get compensated fairly from their insurance companies for property damage. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and respond to your concerns.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. U.S. Department of Commerce. (2019, May 23). NOAA predicts near-normal Atlantic hurricane season. https://www.noaa.gov/
Schwartz, J. (2019, May 23). Forecasts call for a normal hurricane season, but ‘It only takes one.’ New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/