What Harvey and Irma Have Taught Us About Hurricane Preparedness

In the last month, two major storms have hit the U.S., with more on the horizon. Hurricane Harvey caused massive flooding throughout Texas and Louisiana, leaving hundreds of people with damaged or destroyed homes. Hurricane Irma caused strain on Florida’s evacuation resources as it approached with record-high windspeeds, only to cause less damage than predicted.

So, knowing that major hurricanes are becoming  more common, what can you do to plan for them ahead of time?

Prepare Your Home

If you’re in a hurricane zone, you may already be thinking about getting flood insurance. Doing this sooner than later will ensure that your house is covered during the storm, as many policies have a minimum 30-day period.

Create a home inventory to make filing a claim easier. Document, along with photographs, valuable items in your home. This includes furniture, books, art, collectibles, etc.

Know Where Your Things Are

A few posts went around the internet during Harvey advising folks to store valuables in plastic boxes in their dishwashers. This is because your dishwasher is mostly water proof, heavy and anchored to the house itself, making it unlikely to float away. However, you should know what all your valuables are, and where in your house they are located! Make a “dishwasher list” of items and where they are in the house, and keep it somewhere secure and easy-to-find (like Jazmine!) so that when the time comes, gathering up your things will be easy.

Make an Evacuation Plan

Figure out where you will go, and what you need to take with you. Prepare a folder with any and all insurance information, as well as all of your key identification documents. This should include birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, deeds, etc. As we’ve outlined earlier, replacing these documents can be a headache, and the last thing you need in the stress of a hurricane is to be additionally worried.  You can also store your information on Jazmine, for additional backups in the cloud.

Keep in mind that if you have pets, they will usually require special accommodations. Many shelters will not take them in, so you should think about staying in a pet-friendly hotel, or with family. Spending a little more time doing legwork ahead of time will make sure you and Fido can evacuate safely.

…But be Prepared to Have it Change

The main thing we learned in Harvey and Irma was that things get complicated when everyone is trying to evacuate. As you consider your evacuation strategy, be sure to stay flexible and consider backup options. This also applies to things like how long it will take you to get there.

After the Storm

If you come back to find that your home has been damaged, either by floodwaters or winds, it is important to do the following things to give yourself the best chance of successfully filing a claim.

  1. Take photos and document damage carefully, and be sure to upload the photos to Jazmine as you go.
  2. Conduct temporary emergency repairs to prevent further damage to your home. This includes covering broken windows or holes in the roof with tarps. DO NOT make additional repairs until after the insurance adjuster visits.
  3. Compare items to your home inventory and figure out what’s missing or damaged. Document.
  4. File a Claim. Since many insurance companies work on a first-come-first-served basis, and many other homes in your area are likely damaged, be sure to get your claim in as soon as possible. Let them know you have detailed inventories and photos as well. Filing a claim may also help you pay for lodging if your home is deemed uninhabitable by the insurance adjuster.

Planning for and recovering from a hurricane can be a challenging prospect, but with a little planning, you can go far!

 

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