While many of us will never forget Hurricanes Frederic and Ivan, Alabama has been hit by at least 24 hurricanes and many tropical storms. In fact, it’s easy to get complacent—especially when it’s “just” a Category 1 storm.
However, hurricanes and tropical storms can cause serious harm with their high winds, rain, and storm surge. When Hurricane Danny hit Mobile Bay, the relatively mild Category 1 storm dumped more than 43 inches of rain, and roughly 26 inches fell in just seven hours.
Hurricanes also impact more than the coast. When Ivan made landfall, it spent a remarkable eight hours on land at hurricane strength. It stayed at tropical storm levels throughout central Alabama, ripping through land-locked communities with 70 mph winds.
While there’s no way to prevent a hurricane, you should take steps to protect your loved ones and property from a storm. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’re committed to making Alabama a safe place for all. In this blog, we outline some practical safety measures, and how a property damage lawyer can help you rebuild after a hurricane.
Sign Up for Hurricane Weather Alerts
You can’t prepare for what you don’t know is coming. Local weather alerts are a helpful way to make sure you are up-to-date on storm activity. The Emergency Alert System and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio provide emergency alerts for those living in high-risk areas.
“The most important thing during a hurricane is keeping you and your loved ones safe.”
Build Your Hurricane Preparedness Plan
When a hurricane is approaching your community, most of us rush to the store to buy food, water, and plywood. However, it’s easy to forget about other important items. Before you evacuate or hunker down, you need a comprehensive plan.
Create a Hurricane Emergency Kit
Building a hurricane emergency kit is relatively easy. You should collect the following items and place them in easy-to-carry bins or a waterproof bag:
- Non-perishable food and water for your family for three days (one gallon of water per person)
- Your medications
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- A battery-operated radio
- Cellphone, cellphone charger, and portable battery charger
- A first aid kit
- Clean clothes and blankets
- A can opener
- Plastic sheeting, garbage bags, and other tools that can help you shelter in place
- Cash or travelers’ checks
Depending on your unique needs, you may also want to pack necessities like infant formula, diapers, and pet food.
Preserve Your Essential Documents
You’ll need your vital documents after a hurricane; gather your essential information in a waterproof container and keep them on your person during a storm. You should also make copies of these documents and store them in a safe, accessible place. If you decide to store your documents electronically, make sure that your storage system is secure and encrypted.
Essential documents include:
- Vital records: Driver’s licenses, birth certificates or adoption records, passports, Social Security cards, and immigration information
- Insurance policies: Homeowner’s, renter’s, auto, and life insurance policies
- Medical information: Any record of formal diagnoses, immunization history, prescription information, insurance cards, and a list of doctors’ contact information
- Estate planning documents: Information regarding any trusts, wills, or powers of attorney, as well as the contact information for your estate planning attorney
- Financial documents: Financial records including bank account information
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Protect Your Property Before a Hurricane Hits
Storm damage is inevitable, but you should take steps to reduce its impact, make clean-up easier, and alleviate your post-hurricane stress.
- Make sure you have sewer backflow valves installed.
- Anchor your fuel tanks.
- Bring everything inside that you don’t fasten down, like grills, trash cans, and patio furniture.
- Cover your windows with storm shutters or plywood.
- Remove as much debris from your yard as you can.
Purchasing additional insurance is also a wise investment. Flood damage is not usually covered by most homeowner’s insurance. While stand-alone windstorm and flood insurance can be expensive, the extra protection can help relieve the stress of rebuilding after a hurricane. You can also consider adding windstorm or sewer back-up endorsements to your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.
Make a Hurricane Evacuation Plan
The most important thing during a hurricane is keeping you and your loved ones safe. If you live in an evacuation zone and can leave, you should. Decide ahead of time where to go and make sure you have at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle.
It’s also helpful to plan for how to contact your friends and loved ones after the storm. Whether that’s by text, call, or social media site, plan your communication.
What to Do After a Hurricane in Alabama
Sometimes, no matter how much we prepare, the worst happens. According to the 2019 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report, roughly 7.3 million homes are at risk of storm surge damage. If a Category 3 hurricane hit Alabama, an estimated 29,234 single-family homes and 72 multi-family residences would be in danger. These numbers don’t include those homes and properties that could be damaged by wind, rain, or other factors.
After a hurricane, your safety should be your top concern. However, you’ll also want to document the damage to your property, estimate the repair and replacement costs, and file claims with your insurance companies.
Unfortunately, insurance adjusters frequently deny hurricane-related insurance claims. They may claim that a “covered element” did not cause the damage, that your policy is canceled, or some other bogus reason. If this happens to you, it’s in your best interest to contact a property damage attorney right away. A lawyer can help you communicate with the insurance company and stand up to bullying tactics.
Property Damaged by a Hurricane? Call Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys
The Gulf Coast is our home, so we know how devastating the effects of hurricanes can be for our neighbors. If your home or property was damaged by a hurricane and the insurance company is trying to deny you coverage, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’ll listen to your story and help you identify next steps that work for you and your family. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at 251-888-8888.
2019 storm surge report (2019). CoreLogic. Retrieved from https://www.corelogic.com/insights-download/storm-surge-report.aspx
Frequently asked questions (2019, June 1). NOAA, Hurricane Research Division. Retrieved from https://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E19.html
Morgan, L. (2018, May 10). Alabama’s hurricanes: biggest, strongest, most surge. AL.com. Retrieved from https://expo.al.com/erry-2018/05/7d04b4b1aa6891/alabamas_hurricane_hall_of_fam.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.