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    How to Prepare for a Hurricane

    When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, it affected an estimated 13 million people in the Gulf Coast region. It claimed 88 lives, left over 200,000 damaged homes in its wake, and caused $125 billion in total damages. According to the National Hurricane Center, three out of five of the costliest hurricanes on record—Harvey, Irma, and Maria—occurred in 2017. Combined, these devastating storm systems racked up $265 billion in total damages to homes, businesses, and infrastructure in just one hurricane season.

    Experts point to climate change as a major contributing factor to the rising scale of destruction that is becoming more commonplace in our country and around the world. This means that the increased severity of storms is likely to remain a common occurrence. You can make sure that your family and home are prepared for hurricane season by following these steps for hurricane preparedness.

    Evacuation & Hurricane Safety Plan

    It’s important to have an evacuation plan in place before you ever need to leave your home in an actual emergency. Make sure to tune into to local broadcasts to remain aware of hurricane and evacuation warnings.

    Being prepared and knowing what to do when a hurricane strikes can make a difference when there are only seconds to react. Plan for different emergencies, create and communicate evacuation plans with your family and/or friends, and have emergency supply kits on hand for home, work, and vehicles. Be sure to communicate a plan as a family and discuss different scenarios. You may not be together when disaster strikes, so be sure to discuss how you will communicate.

    Pet Safety

    Some of the most haunting images and heart wrenching rescue footage during hurricanes and floods is of pets who were left behind during a devastating storm. During a hurricane watch or warning, make sure that all family pets are accounted for and are safely inside—hurricane force winds and rain can turn any object into a dangerous projectile, and rising flood waters can trap an animal in a place that they may not be able to get out of.

    Be sure to include your furry family members in your evacuation plans. According to FEMA, family pets should never be left behind during an evacuation. Make sure to have a list of hotels that allow pets handy, in the event of an evacuation.

    Emergency Supplies

    To avoid a rush on the grocery store and potentially empty shelves, it’s a good idea to stock up on these supplies at the beginning of each hurricane season, just in case there are power outages, damages to the water supply, minor first aid emergencies, or an emergency evacuation:

    • Two gallons of water per person for everyone in your home

    • Non-perishable food supplies

    • Protective gear like boots and blankets

    • First aid kit

    • Prescription medications

    • Candles or non-electric lamps

    • Lighter and/or matches

    • Flashlights

    • Extra batteries

    • External power pack for charging cell phones

    • Portable radio for weather and evacuation updates

    • Basic tool kit

    • Material for minor emergency home repairs, such as window tape and a plastic tarp

    • Critical documents

    • Emergency phone numbers

    • Deck of cards (not really an emergency item, but nice to have if you must go for hours without power)

    Protect your Property

    High winds during hurricanes can turn your lawn and property into a disaster zone. Much of the damage to homes experienced during a hurricane or other storm occurs because wind can damage windows, doors, and roofs, allowing water to enter the home. You can retrofit your home ahead of time to prepare for hurricane force winds.

    • Trim trees and branches that could fall on your house, cars, or other critical property.

    • Install storm shutters to protect your windows from damage. In a pinch, you can fix plywood panels to your windows by nailing them to window frames before a storm approaches.

    • Make sure doors have at least three hinges and a dead bolt lock that is at least one-inch long. This will go a long way to ensuring the structural integrity and reducing the risk of your door blowing away.

    • During a storm, sliding glass doors should be covered with shutters or plywood. These types of doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.

    • Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall with a waterproof calking material.

    Flood Insurance

    A hurricane or other natural disaster can cause loss of life or property damage and typically leaves some economic damage in its wake—having a plan in place can reduce the amount of suffrage and bring resilience to unforeseeable events.

    Floods, particularly those associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, are the most common natural disaster in the country. According to FEMA, a mere inch of flood water in your home can result in over $25,000 in property damage! Despite this, homeowners insurance does not cover damages caused by flooding.

    Mortgage lenders now require those home and business owners with properties located in a high-risk flood zone to purchase and maintain additional flood insurance on their home loans. Unfortunately, 25% of homes that incur flood damage annually are located outside of the high risk flood zone. Of the houses and businesses affected by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, 80% were located outside of the 100 year flood plain. The vast majority of these property owners did not have flood insurance.

    If flooding caused by a hurricane or tropical storm is a concern to you and your family; if the price to rebuild your home exceeds the standard policy limit of $250,000; or if you live outside of the highest risk flood zones, then excess flood insurance may be coverage to consider.

    Unfortunately, everyone is at risk of suddenly finding themselves, their family, and their friends without a home, food, water, and other necessities needed to survive after a hurricane or other natural disaster. We cannot always predict the weather, so it is recommended that you prepare your home and family ahead of time.

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    Disaster Preparedness Insurance

    Tyreo Harrison

    As Executive Vice President, Lending & Insurance Solutions, Ty Harrison leads teams of lending and insurance professionals that are dedicated to delivering value-added programs, services and technology tailored to address the needs of lenders, loan servicers, portfolio managers, mortgage brokers, insurance agents and insurance brokers.

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