With the 2017 hurricane season starting in less than three weeks on June 1st, President Trump declared last week to be National Hurricane Preparedness Week.
The White House proclamation urges all Americans living in hurricane-prone areas like Louisiana to use online resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) to help prepare their families, homes and businesses for a storm.
Planning ahead can help keep your family safe during the storm and its aftermath. Preparation will also help you recover all of the insurance compensation you need to pay for property damage to your home or business. This helps prevent a hurricane from becoming a financial catastrophe as well as an environmental one.
Simien & Simien's Louisiana insurance lawyers advise you to take these six steps to prepare for the 2017 hurricane season:
1. Know the Dangers
Hurricanes create numerous weather hazards, such as:
- High winds that can destroy buildings and homes
- Storm surge and heavy rainfall that create the potential for flooding
You cannot adequately prepare unless you know the types of weather hazards that could occur in the area where you live.
There is a high risk of flooding in the southern part of the state as much of it is barely above sea level. However, storm surge can travel several miles inland across hundreds of miles of coastline. Hurricane Katrina's storm surge caused some structures in low lying areas to take on eight to 14 feet of water.
There are also some storms that travel slowly and dump large amounts of rain in a short period of time, increasing the risk of flooding. This can happen even if the hurricane stays off shore, like Hurricane Matthew did last year. This storm caused devastating flooding in the Carolinas even though the eye of the storm never came on land.
You can type in your address in FEMA's flood map service to find out the level of flood risk in the area where you live.
2. Create an Evacuation Plan
Every family needs a hurricane evacuation plan, no matter where they live or what kinds of weather hazards could occur during the storm.
If you live in a home that would be unsafe in a hurricane, like a mobile home, or in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone, you will have to put your evacuation plan into action when a hurricane comes.
Page eight of the Official Louisiana Hurricane Survival Guide shows the storm surge hurricane evacuation zones in the state.
The first step in an evacuation plan is to determine where you will go. It is not necessary to travel hundreds of miles, you just need to go somewhere that will be safe throughout the storm.
If you have a friend or relative in a safe location, ask if you can stay with them during the hurricane. If you have pets, make sure it is OK for you to bring them.
You can also plan to go to a local shelter if you have nowhere else to go. However, shelters do not allow pets so you will have to take your pets somewhere else.
Page nine of the Official Louisiana Hurricane Survival Guide lists several hurricane shelters you can go to during a storm. The guide also lists evacuation routes on Louisiana’s major roadways.
If you are ordered to evacuate, do so in a prompt and orderly fashion and try to do so during daylight hours.
3. Create a Disaster Kit
Hurricanes can knock out power and leave you without clean water for several days to a few weeks. This is why you need enough non-perishable food, medicine and water for everyone in your family for one week, at minimum.
If you already have a disaster kit, evaluate it to make sure it is sufficient to get you through the storm.
Your disaster kit should also include:
- Battery-powered radio
- Solar-powered cellphone charger
- Pet food
- First aid kit
- Sleeping bags
- Gas for the grill
- Fire extinguisher
- Pots and pans
4. Review Your Insurance Coverage
Review your homeowner's or business insurance policy to ensure you have the appropriate coverage in the event of a hurricane. You should also review policies for vehicles and watercraft to ensure you have sufficient coverage.
Most homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding so you will need a separate flood insurance policy. Start shopping well before hurricane season starts to ensure you have coverage before a storm is headed toward Louisiana.
Keep all your insurance policies in a safe place during the storm so you can easily find them when the storm passes.
5. Inspect Your House
Make sure your home is prepared for the strong winds and other hazards presented by hurricanes. Find out if your house meets local hurricane building codes and make any repairs to bring it up to code.
If you can afford it, have your home outfitted with hurricane shutters to protect your windows and doors from the high winds and debris caused by a hurricane.
Otherwise, stock up on aluminum, steel or plywood panels to board up doors and windows. Start shopping for these items well before a storm comes because they tend to sell out quickly when a hurricane is on the way.
6. Network with Neighbors
Check in with your neighbors prior to hurricane season to discuss how you can help each other through a natural disaster. Historically, communities have come together to aid neighbors following devastating hurricanes.
Experienced Attorneys Ready to Assist You
If you suffer property damage to your home or business in a natural disaster, Simien & Simien’s personal injury attorneys may be able to help you recover fair compensation.
We have the resources to fight large insurance companies when they attempt to deny or devalue legitimate insurance claims.