As tropical storms Laura and Marco continue barreling across the Gulf of Mexico, residents in Houston and other communities in the region should take caution and make necessary preparations to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property.
While Marco briefly strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane on Sunday, August. 23, it downgraded to a still-severe tropical storm with strong winds just under 70 mph. At the time of writing on Monday, Aug. 24, Laura was forecasted to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border sometime between Wednesday and Thursday.
Hurricanes and strong tropical storms are an annual occurrence that can begin around June and last through November, but the majority occur between August and September by a wide margin. Although that means Marco and Laura are arriving within the expected window of time, having both of them make landfall within days of each other is unprecedented.
There’s still time to prepare for Laura and Marco, and these storms may not be the last we see in 2020. Here’s what you should do to prepare your family and property during a hurricane. Make sure to monitor all local new stations and the internet for the latest weather report, predicted landfall locations, and potential evacuation orders. Make sure to know all evacuation routes from your home to safety.
Prepare a Go-Kit with Emergency Essentials
If you don’t already have a prepared kit with emergency essentials, there’s never a better time than right now to get started. It’s relatively easy to pull everything together, too, because you probably have most of these items in your home already.
Your first and most important consideration should be drinkable water for everyone in your family. Acquiring a seven-day supply of one gallon per person, per day should suffice. You might also want to consider adding water purification tablets in case you need to source your water from somewhere you suspect is unclean.
Food should be your second most important consideration. Be sure to have a seven-day supply of non-perishable items. Always pack a hand-operated can opener because the provided pull-tabs on cans may fail. It’s also a good idea to pack plastic cups, plates, and utensils.
You might already have an emergency first aid kit prepared at home or have bought one ahead of time, but now’s a good time to take stock of what you have. If you don’t have a first aid kit prepared, you can probably find the basics you’ll need – like disinfectant, bandages, medical tape, and scissors – around your home.
Do not forget to have a complete supply of any medications you or someone in your home is taking.
Baby supplies are an extra consideration new parents must take. Be sure to pack enough formula, bottles, powdered milk, diapers, wipes, and rash ointment to last seven days.
Pets will need a seven-day supply of food and water for them, along with a cage, carrier, or leash. Any medications your pet is taking should be included, too. Be sure to include space for their favorite toy and – if you have a cat – a litter box with litter. For caged animals like small mammals, birds, and reptiles, you can try to bring these critters in their enclosures with you or downsize their living accommodations to something more manageable. If you can’t find any space in your vehicle for them, consider moving their enclosures to high ground in your home.
Other supplies you should put into your kit includes:
- Toilet paper
- Flashlights and camp lanterns
- Waterproof matches
- A portable, battery-powered radio
- Extra batteries for battery-powered devices
- Cell phone chargers for your car with wall adapters
- Tools and other supplies (like a tarp to cover any damage to your home)
Store your completed go-kit somewhere where you can easily and quickly get to in an emergency. Some people might store them in their cars, garages, in closets leading to the front door, or other places where they don’t have to back-track through their home when they’re trying to evacuate.
For more information about what you can include in your disaster go-kit, click here.
Don’t forget to gather those important documents before the storm hits. Make sure your passport, birth certificates, insurance policies, bank account information, and home mortgage information are stored somewhere safely and out of harm’s way.
Prepare Yourself and Your Home for a Hurricane
There’s nothing you can do to stop a hurricane or ensure that your home will come out unscathed, but there are certain preparations you can make to lessen the risk of unnecessary damage.
After you have a plan for yours and your families’ safety, review your homeowner’s insurance policy to find out how you may be covered by hurricane-induced damage. Then, take “before” pictures (and video if possible) of your home and belongings in case you need to show a claims adjuster the extent of damage your home and personal belongings suffered during the hurricane.
Here’s what you can do to minimize the chance of severe damage occurring to your home:
- Add storm shutters to your home or board up your windows
- Clear your gutters to allow water to move away from your home
- Inspect your roof for deficiencies
- Place outdoor furniture and toys in your garage to minimize what the wind can throw at your property
While you’re powerless to stop a hurricane, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to lessen the risk to your home. By taking these measures to heart, you can reduce the chance of catastrophic damage to your property.
File Any & All Applicable Insurance Claims
Immediately after the hurricane no longer poses a threat, it’s time to assess the damage to your property. Should any amount of damage occur, your recent review of your homeowner’s insurance policy and “before” pictures can help you fight for the compensation you need to make repairs. If there is damage to your roof, then safely put a tarp over the damaged areas (get help from family and friends). Take pictures and video of everything that was damaged before you discard it. Keep all receipts and documents in any way related to the storm (invoices, estimates, cash-receipts, correspondence with your insurance company).
If you suffer losses from a hurricane, immediately notify your insurance agent, company, and FEMA and open a claim as soon as possible. Do not wait.
If your insurance company does not pay you everything that you’re entitled to receive under your insurance policy, then call the Law Office of Shane McClelland, PLLC for help. We can help you fight your insurance company to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to receive under your insurance policy. We can help you hold them accountable by fighting for the fair and just compensation you need after your home has been damaged by a hurricane, windstorm, or flooding.
Reach out to the Law Office of Shane McClelland for help with your insurance claims by calling (713) 242-1302 or filling out our online contact form.