The forecast for the 2015 hurricane season is out, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a below-normal Atlantic hurricane season. The season, which begins June 1 and ends November 30, has a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms, of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including up to 2 hurricanes classified as a Category 3, 4 or 5.
However, predictions of a below-normal season are no reason to think that Florida’s coastal areas will have it easy.
None of us will soon forget the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, which was the first named storm to form in the "below-normal" 1992 season.
When Andrew initially materialized, it was a weak storm that many thought would fall apart. Instead, it grew into a Category 5 hurricane only two days before it struck South Florida, leaving most residents with little time to prepare their homes and evacuate. Andrew taught the valuable lesson that a season’s forecast for low storm activity doesn’t mean people should be less prepared.
Many people along the Gulf coast have let their guard down since the U.S. has not been hit with a major hurricane in nearly a decade, the longest ever since scientists began keeping official records in 1851.
The biggest dangers from a hurricane are storm surge flooding, heavy rains, damaging winds, tornadoes and rip currents. Strong winds and severe rain can cause destruction hundreds of miles inland, while the ocean water pushed by those winds onto the coast during storm surges is responsible for about half of the U.S. lives lost to tropical cyclones since 1963. While certain places are riskier than others, if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, it’s important to be prepared. It only takes one storm to change your life.
- At the beginning of hurricane season, meet with your family to create an emergency plan and practice it.
- Think about what you will do if water, gas, electricity or phone service is off.
- Choose an out-of-state friend as a point of contact for everyone to call if the family gets separated.
- Assemble an emergency supply kit in an easy-to-carry container stocked with a weather radio, flashlight, batteries, first-aid items, a set of multi-purpose tools, copies of personal documents, cell phone chargers, extra cash and enough food and water for each person for three days.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management has a great website dedicated to helping families and businesses “Get a Plan.”
If you are a pet owner, be sure that your disaster plan includes your animals.
Make sure your smartphone is set to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts from the National Weather Service. These alerts are broadcast by nearby cell towers, which means they are sensitive to your real-time geographic location. The service sends 90-character messages that automatically pop up on your phone using a unique ring tone and vibration. The messages will not disrupt text, calls, or data sessions that are in progress and are rebroadcast until the emergency situation has passed.
Getting Prepared for the Insurance Companies
Since it may be difficult to prove to your insurance company what was lost in a hurricane, develop a home inventory ahead of time. Document your possessions with photographs or video and keep that evidence in a safe place outside your house. Be sure to update the list whenever you make a significant purchase or get rid of a big-ticket item. This evidence can be priceless if a hurricane strikes. Consider using free online software that makes creating and keeping a home inventory easy by visiting https://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html.
After a hurricane, property owners and businesses all turn to their insurance companies with claims for coverage under commercial property insurance policies, homeowner’s policies, and commercial general liability insurance policies. Here at Stabinski and Funt, P.A., we handle a wide range of hurricane-related insurance cases.
Whether you have a storm surge, wind damage, roof damage or water penetration insurance claim on your house or business, we are prepared to fight for you against insurance companies that have wrongfully denied or delayed claims or failed to adequately cover the damage. If you are trying to put your life back together after a hurricane or have more questions about this topic, trust your case to the attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. For 45 years, we have helped people understand their rights under the law. Contact us by calling (305) 964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form.
DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).