By Diane Cooper, Kingwood resident with 20+ years’ experience in weather and river forecasting for the National Weather Service
It only takes one storm to cause serious damage to a region, which can occur in any year, even a below normal season. So, whether the forecast is for an above, below or normal hurricane season, you should prepare. Remember! Hurricane season is only six weeks away.
Prepare to Be Hurricane Strong
Now is a good time to prepare or update your Disaster Readiness Kits. Remember: “Shelter from wind; Flee from water.” Therefore, you need to create two kits. First, prepare a disaster readiness kit for sheltering in place. Second, prepare a “grab kit” in case you need to evacuate.
For what to include in a readiness kit, see my blog post.
For your grab kit, consider these suggestions:
- FIRST, you need an evacuation plan.
- Know your evacuation zone and your evacuation routes.
- Identify what you can quickly grab that will support you on the road for several days.
- Determine a route to a destination far enough inland that you will be safe from wind and flooding.
- If you evacuate, take copies of insurance policies and other important documents or have them stored online, so that you can access them remotely.
- Share your evacuation plans with friends and family.
- Consider that your drive time will likely be longer than normal because of heavy traffic.
- Prepare to be gone for several days.
Check Insurance Policies
NOW is a good time to review your insurance policy to ensure you have adequate coverage for you home, business and personal property. Make sure that your insurance policy covers rebuild costs and not simply your “tax-assessed value.”
Consider flood insurance. Our community leaders are working hard on flood mitigation. However, it will take time to fund and implement all mitigation measures. Until then, flood insurance can minimize your personal risk as well as risk to your business. Sadly, Harvey reminded us that inland/freshwater flooding can cause significant damages.
A standard home or renter’s insurance policy does NOT cover flood-related damages. If you already have flood insurance, make sure it covers personal property as well as your structure. (Note: if you had to purchase flood insurance to obtain a loan, your policy may not include the separate contents coverage. You can add coverage by contacting your insurance agent.) If you rent, you can take out a flood insurance policy for your personal property.
If you own a business, also consider business interruption insurance. It’s fairly inexpensive and can be a lifesaver. It’s not part of most business policies but can easily be added – inquire with your insurance agent. Specify that it covers disruptions due to extended loss of power. During Hurricane Ike, Kingwood lost power for approximately two weeks. Losing income for that long can severely harm any business.
Strengthen your Home
You can also do some simple things around your home, such as trim dead or weakened tree limbs, replace loose shingles, clean out gutters, and ensure they are securely attached. You can add hurricane clips to reinforce your roof. Also add braces to your garage door railings and cross braces to your garage door. Flash.org has more tips on how to strengthen your home and be HurricaneStrong.
Don’t Wait to Prepare
While I pray we will not experience another tropical system this year, the reality is that each year we have a risk of at least one. Thus, we need to be prepared. Take appropriate actions depending on the risk of each storm. Start to prepare now.
Posted April 12, 2018, 226 Days Since Hurricane Harvey