Texas Emergency Management ONLINE2013 Vol. 60 No. 5

PREPARING FOR HURRICANE SEASON

Texas Emergency Management  Conference

Hurricane season officially begins in Texas on June 1 and runs through the end of November, with peak hurricane activity typically occurring in August and September. Weather forecasters have predicted an above-average likelihood of a major hurricane striking along the Texas Gulf Coast this year. Although residents of coastal areas are most at risk, tropical storm systems can travel hundreds of miles inland, creating the potential for wind damage and flash flooding throughout the state. Planning ahead can help you protect yourself, your family, and your property during hurricane season.

Before a Hurricane

  • To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property:
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.

Review Your Insurance Coverage
Make certain your homeowners or commercial property coverage is current and that it provides adequate coverage to pay the full replacement cost of your property. Read your policy carefully! Make sure you understand what the policy does and does not cover and what your policy's limits are. You may have to buy separate policies to cover wind, hail, and flood damage.

Windstorm insurance. If your property is located in one of Texas' 14 coastal counties or parts of southeastern Harris County, your policy might exclude coverage for windstorm and hail damage. You'll need to purchase this coverage separately from a special insurance pool called the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). To qualify for TWIA coverage, your property must pass a windstorm inspection and must meet certain windstorm-resistant building standards. You cannot buy or change TWIA coverage once a hurricane has entered the Gulf of Mexico. For more information about windstorm coverage, call TWIA (512) 899-4900 or visit its website.

For information about the windstorm inspection program, call the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Windstorm Inspections Division (512) 248-6032 or visit the TDI website.

Flood insurance. Homeowners and commercial property policies do not pay for flood damages caused by rising waters. To protect yourself from losses caused by most flooding, you'll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period after the purchase date before coverage takes effect, so if you do not have a policy, you should obtain one as soon as possible. For more information about flood insurance, contact the NFIP, 1-888-FLOOD29 (356-6329).

References
Hurricanes. Ready.gov, FEMA. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?. TDI.TEXAS.GOV. Texas Department of Insurance. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/hurricane.html

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