by Peter Andersen
There was a time when the idea of a hurricane in the tri-state area was not taken seriously. “A hurricane? In New York? Nope, not going to happen”. Until a few years ago, we were all pretty sure that any hurricane that ran up the east coast would weaken, reduce to a fraction of its former self, and become a glorified late summer storm. Sandy set us straight, though, didn’t she? A perfect combination of weather events allowed for a devastating landfall, as high tides rolled across Manhattan, trees tore down power lines across the region, historic covered bridges were washed away across Vermont, and much of the region went dark.
What did we learn? Hopefully, we learned enough to be better prepared the next time. We learned not to assume. We learned that even unexpected things happen at unexpected times (A hurricane in OCTOBER???). Hopefully, we also learned that we have to be smart and proactive to minimize the impact a storm like this can have on our lives.
From an insurance perspective, there are quite a few things you can do in preparation. Be sure your home is properly insured, your auto has comprehensive coverage (a co-worker here at Levitt-Fuirst had her car flattened by a tree during Sandy), and that you have documented your valuable articles in case there is damage to your home and its contents. Flood insurance was a key coverage for many during Sandy, if you haven’t already, give yourself a flood primer in our piece from July 21st.
Outside of the house, there is much you should do as well. Another of our posts mentioned keeping your trees trimmed for the summer, but this is really a 4 season rule. In the summer, we have regular heavy storms and occasional named storms that come through, and ice storms, snow storms and blizzards wreak havoc from October through April – it isn’t easy being a tree! Keep them pruned and healthy to minimize the damage they can cause to power lines, roofs, and other structures on your property. Also, be sure to clear your lawn of anything that could be blown by the wind – these can be dangerous projectiles in a big wind event.
Inside the home, close your windows, turn up your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings in case of a power outage. For short term emergencies, you should have supplies on hand such as plenty of canned food, water, and cash. After 9-11, myself and many other New York City residents were prompted to create Emergency Kits – first aid, food, money, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets. These were important items for the horror of those days, but they also would come in handy during any storm or event that takes out your power for more than a day or two.
Do you have a plan for those occasions when the power goes out for an extended period of time? Sandy saw homes without power for weeks! In those longer term power-loss events, perhaps a generator would be a worthy investment? Make sure to locate friends or family that would welcome you should you need to relocate, and make an evacuation plan. Be sure to gas up your cars! I think we all learned that the hard way – with major storms come major gas supply problems. If a storm is on the move, gas up your cars and use them as little as possible – when you need to get out of town, that foresight might be the difference between securely arriving at your destination, and using your last fumes searching for an open and operational gas station.
For so many years, we were lulled into a false sense of security that our region was secure from large scale events, be it hurricanes, terrorism, or huge regional blackouts due to a domino effect of power station problems from Ohio to New York. The idea is not to know exactly what will come next, but rather to be as prepared as possible for ANYTHING that could come next. Simple steps and precautions can help you as you endure events that are beyond your control, protecting yourself and your family, and speeding your financial recovery in the face of damage to your home or property.
Hurricane Preparation Links: