The National Hurricane Center just released its final report on Hurricane Michael, which devastated Florida's Gulf Coast last October. Meteorologists found the storm had maximum sustained winds of 160 mph when it made landfall, making it just the fourth Category 5 landfall hurricane in U.S. history. Mexico Beach and other local communities are still rebuilding, and the report has reminded many of the devastating effects of these storms.
So, with hurricane season fast approaching, what steps can you take (legal and otherwise) to prepare for natural disasters? And what can you do in the immediate aftermath? Here's a look:
The best way to handle a hurricane is to be well-prepared, well in advance. Landlords and tenants should be on the same page about damages; your homeowner's insurance policy (including storm and flood coverage) should be up-to-date; be prepared for legal trespassers fleeing high winds and storm surge; and you should probably have an attorney experienced with insurance issues on speed dial.
Most of the damage from hurricanes comes from both wind and water. But the majority of standard homeowner's policies don't include coverage for flood damage. And, in some cases, you may be required to purchase flood insurance. Find out where to look for a policy, and what you need to keep an eye out for when purchasing.
Evacuation orders can be tricky. Generally speaking, government officials have citizens' best interests at heart in trying to move them away from the most dangerous storm areas. But many people are loath to leave their homes, and mass evacuations can cause massive traffic jams, stranding people in cars and far from shelter or services. So, what happens if you don't leave after being ordered to?
What are some best practices for staying safe once the hurricane hits? Storing non-perishable food and clean water are key. And be aware of natural dangers large and small: high winds can cause trees and limbs to come down outside, and wet, watery conditions can cause mold and mildew inside.
Priority number one before, during, and after a hurricane is safety. But afterwards, you may need some legal help. You can contact a local attorney for assistance with hurricane damage claims and insurance coverage issues.