If you live or vacation on the Atlantic coast, you’re no stranger to inclement weather. And you know June through November is hurricane season, with disaster always just one storm away. Yet things seem oddly quiet this year. Before this hurricane season started, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a 75 percent chance the season would be average or above average. But with little happening so far, NOAA has downgraded its predictions and now expects the season to be less severe.
That’s great news if you own a home or vacation property on the East Coast, especially if your property is in a flood zone. But just because it’s been a mild hurricane season doesn’t mean you should get complacent. With the season running through November, there’s still plenty of time for late season storms to develop.
Never a better time to prepare
This lull in the action is the perfect time to get your disaster preparedness together. Here are a few key steps to make sure you’re ready for a natural disaster:
- Know where you’re vulnerable in case of a hurricane and flooding and take precautions against those threats such as securing loose items or adding drainage.
- Take inventory of everything you own. It may be tedious, but if you ever need to file an insurance claim or apply for federal disaster aid, you’ll be glad you did it.
- Create a disaster preparedness plan that includes emergency communication, escape routes, utility shut-offs, and other emergency procedures. Put together an emergency kit with basic supplies such as a flashlight and battery-powered radio.
- Protect important papers. Store valuable documents in a safe deposit box or other location away from your home and consider scanning and uploading them to a cloud storage site such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Get financial protection. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your homeowner’s policy will cover you in case of a hurricane and flooding, because it may not. Make sure you have the supplemental coverage you need such as flood insurance.
If you lost everything, would you be able to get back on your feet?
Storm surges and inland flooding create some of the most treacherous conditions during and after a hurricane. Entire sections of cities can be under water for days, even weeks. That means no power, no water, no cell service, no grocery stores open for business, and a host of other inconveniences. It can also mean disaster for your home or vacation property and a long, messy, and costly cleanup. That’s why it’s so crucial to have flood insurance.
Know what flood insurance covers – and what it doesn’t
Flood insurance generally covers the actual cash value of your home’s contents, and you have options with regard to property coverage. But while flood insurance can provide a financial safety net, it doesn’t cover everything. Before you buy, understand the restrictions and limitations. For example, flood insurance won’t cover:
- Most personal property located in basements or other areas below the lowest elevated floor
- Flooding from frozen pipes bursting, an overflowing toilet, or a swimming pool malfunction
- Damage to flower beds, trees, or other landscaping
- Living expenses such as renting a hotel room while your property is fixed
- Any currency, precious metals, stock certificates, and other valuable papers
Stay ahead of the game
Flood plains and flood maps are being revised and updated all the time, and Mother Nature is unpredictable. Don’t get caught off guard when calm weather turns violent. For more information about flood insurance, see the National Flood Insurance Program Summary of Coverage or visit Floodsmart.gov.