The 2018 Hurricane Season is Coming
In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit Galveston, Houston and the Texas coastline VERY hard. Tylka Law attorneys live in Galveston and League City, and we saw the devastating effects of Harvey first hand. Many of our friends had their homes flooded and property destroyed. A few were displaced for weeks trying to get TWIA insurance to pay their contractors fairly just so they could move back into their home. We know first hand both the devastation caused by a hurricane and the needed cleanup afterward, and the 2018 hurricane season is around the corner. It seems like the “500 Year Flood” is far more common than that these days. To help you prepare for the 2018 storm season, we have put together a list below that will help mitigate some of the damage.
Hurricane & Storm Insurance
Any resident of Galveston or coastal Texas needs to purchase hurricane and storm insurance. This insurance must be purchased separately as it is not typically covered by homeowners insurance. The TWIA (Texas Windstorm Insurance Association) is the largest insurer in Texas, though other insurers are available.
When you purchase hurricane and storm insurance, make sure all applicable property is included. Consider your car, business, loss of rent, jewelry and electronics when purchasing insurance. Take photos and make a list of anything important that may need to be replaced. Make sure you have enough coverage, and update this yearly.
Exterior Gardening and Home Repairs
“Gardening? Home repairs? I thought this was about hurricanes!” one might say. Items like unsecured tree branches and roofing material are some of the biggest hazards to your home and yourself. While they might not weigh a lot, during a hurricane they become lethal missiles that break down walls, destroy cars and kill people.
In the month or two before hurricane season, take a look around your home to see if there are any questionable hazards. If you are unsure of your roof’s stability, contact a local roofer. Likewise, if you are unsure about a tree on your property, contact a tree trimmer or removal service for an evaluation.
We recommend taking the following steps to secure your home in the week leading up to a hurricane:
- Secure Windows and Doors: Use thick plywood, hurricane shutters and/or other material to prevent debris and water coming through your windows and doors. Securing windows is especially important as wind and shattered glass is typically lethal.
- Purchase Non-Perishable Food: According to the US Coast Guard, each home should have at least 72-hours of food and water per person on hand. Power outages are likely during a hurricane, so also consider purchasing non-perishable food such as peanut butter, beef jerky, trail mix and crackers. Consider keeping a sterno or portable stove on hand for boiling water and canned soups. Don’t forget your pets! If you have a cat or dog, make sure food and water is available for them as well.
- Store Water for Sanitation: Have some extra water on hand for baths, flushing toilets, and simple cleaning (like hand-washing). If you run out of water and own a water heater tank, extra water may be available inside of the water heater for emergency purposes.
- Purchase or Make a First-Aid Kit: During a hurricane, emergency responders will typically take a long time to get to you. Having a first aid kit on hand can help alleviate any non-critical wounds.
- Secure Firearms: For those of you that own firearms, make sure that these are secured in a good safe or on your person. Major storms may force you to evacuate, and looting is historically known to occur after a storm. Firearms are prized targets for looters; make sure they do not get the opportunity to steal yours.
- Sand Bags and Flood Barriers: If you live in a known flood-zone, seriously consider purchasing sand bags or other flood barriers for the exterior of your home. Even if flood insurance covers all of your property damages, it can still take months to get back to normal. A preventative step can alleviate a lot of stress.
- Communication: A secondary mobile phone can come in handy, however cell reception can be limited. Hurricane Harvey took down dozens of major cell towers throughout Houston and Galveston and cut off communications for thousands. We recommend purchasing and learning the emergency frequencies on a CB, Marine, or HAM radio. These radio types have a lot of emergency response support and will often work better than cell phones in an emergency situation.
- Generator: If your property can accommodate a generator, we recommend purchasing one. A generator can immediately restore power, heat and light to your home during an outage.
- Evacuate: If the storm hitting coastal Texas is severe enough and you have the option to evacuate, we highly recommend doing so. Staying in your home can be far more dangerous, especially as flood waters rise. Plan out an evacuation route and meeting points with your family before the storm hits.
After the Storm
After you take account of you and your family, start documenting all home and property damage. Take photos, make lists, and then contact your insurer. Assuming you purchased enough coverage, they should be able to cover the full value of your damages.
Hurricane and Storm Lawyers
Tylka Law Texas hurricane and storm lawyers know that insurance doesn’t always pay. After Hurricane Harvey, we represented many clients that were low-balled by their insurer. It can unfortunately be a negotiation process between you and the insurer, even if you purchased full coverage. If you have legal questions or need help, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We offer a free consultation for all windstorm and flood damage claims, and our offices are conveniently located in Galveston and League City.