Hurricane season 2021: Homeowners must prepare now | Opinion

By Mike Gorham

Special to the Sun Sentinel

May 20, 2021 11:25 AM

Nadia Meinero puts up shutters on her mobile home as her son Anthony looks from inside as Hurricane Irma threatens South Florida.

Nadia Meinero puts up shutters on her mobile home as her son Anthony looks from inside as Hurricane Irma threatens South Florida. (Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel)

The 2021 hurricane season kicks off June 1 and forecasters are calling for another above-average season. If you are a longtime South Florida resident like me, you know that preparedness activities become much more challenging 24 hours prior to a storm: gas station lines run for miles, the grocery store may run out of batteries and gallons of water quickly become scarce.

Whether it is your business or home, taking the necessary steps before, during and after a hurricane makes landfall is crucial to your safety and the well-being of your property and family.

While we cannot stop natural disasters, we can arm ourselves with the best possible preparation to survive another busy storm season.

Hurricanes can produce winds of over 155 mph and can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. They can also lead to storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.

The No. 1 priority is to ensure the safety of your family and the protection of your home. It is also important to ensure you have the right insurance policy in place, including understanding the limitations your policy may include ahead of storm season. For example, wind damage is usually covered by your standard homeowner’s insurance, whereas hurricane damage caused by flooding may not be included in your policy. If you are one of the thousands moving to Florida every day, it is imperative you review your policy carefully and learn what is covered so you are protected post-storm.

Mike Gorham

Mike Gorham (Mike Gorham / Courtesy)

Here are some additional top storm tips for homeowners:

  • Ensure you have an electronic copy of your policy to take with you in case your original copy is destroyed.
  • Build an emergency supply kit and make a family communication plan (more on that to come).
  • Make a plan: Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone to best protect against the likelihood of storm surge or tidal flooding.
  • Be sure all trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant when the storm hits. Vegetation can fall on power lines causing safety issues and restoration of your home’s power even more complicated.
  • Make sure to cover all your home’s windows and note that permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option would be to board up windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood, which would need to be cut to fit and ready to install. Remember: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and down spots; flooding is dangerous and expensive.
  • Ahead of the storm reaching landfall, ensure all outdoor furniture, décor garbage and recycling cans are moved to a safe place indoors. Any items not tied down ahead of a storm can cause serious damage to your home.

Where’s the emergency supply kit?

As part of your storm season prep, ensure you have an emergency supply kit readily available in your home. Essentials include water — at least one gallon per person daily; adequate non-perishables; battery-powered flashlights, and batteries; adequate medicines and filled prescriptions; and finally, copies of important documents such as insurance policies and identification records.

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Assessing the post-storm damage

Following a major storm or another catastrophe, even with many additional insurance adjusters on-site and others en route, it will take time to process the large number of claims that will be filed. If your home or business has been destroyed, or your case is very serious, your insurance agent should make you priority.

In the meantime, take photos of the damaged areas, as they will help you with the presentation of your claim and will assist the adjuster in the investigation of your claim. Try your best to prevent further damage and only make minor repairs if necessary.

Whether it is your home or business, it is imperative to find the right insurance solutions to fit your needs. But don’t wait until the storm hits to check your insurance policies: ensure you have the right coverage today.

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