At the time of this writing, Hurricane Dorian is a Category 1 storm close to Puerto Rico. By the time this column goes online, Dorian would have made landfall, hopefully not twice. When Jimmy Buffett wrote “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season,” smartphones and satellite radar were science fiction. While forecasting is more accurate and precise than decades ago, you still have to plan. The best time for planning is when the sun is shining. Use the state’s disaster planning website, www.floridadisaster.org, to set up yours. Disclaimer: Floridadisater.org has nothing to do with FSU football.
After or during a storm text instead of calling. Text messages go through when phone calls won’t. If you do call and the call gets dropped don’t immediately redial; it ties up the tower. Wait 10 seconds before another attempt. Have enough food and water for three to five days minimum, one gallon per person per day. Have additional water for hygiene. Use manual can openers and fill up your car. Keep plenty of cash; ATMs may not be working. Work on an evacuation plan and notify relatives or close friends. If you have medical needs, address them now. Don’t forget to plan for your animals.
Don’t use candles; they are messy and a fire hazard. Locate your flashlights; grandkids have a way of playing with them when you aren’t looking. Make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand for flashlights and radios. Today we rely on modern technology, but over-the-air broadcasts don’t depend on cell towers. If you live on the coast, a battery-operated radio is essential. Fully charge all electronic devices. Take evacuation notices seriously; don’t wait too late to leave.
Review your current insurance policies. Be aware flood claims may be difficult to coordinate with wind claims. Automobile comprehensive coverage extends to damage caused by wind and flooding. Wind damage from hurricanes has much higher deductibles. Ordinance coverage cover mandated code upgrades. Before the storm take digital pictures of your home, personal property, and automobiles, email them to someone you trust or store them online.
After a storm, take reasonable steps to limit the additional loss of personal property and further damage to the structure. Report damages to the agent and insurance company as soon as possible. Document all expenses, living expenses may be covered under your homeowner's policy but not if the loss is solely from flooding.
During hurricane season libertarians vanish. Federal taxes subsidize (heavily) flood insurance. Government employees, civilian and military, track hurricanes, not private companies. Over half of the Commerce Department’s budget funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Disasters also vividly demonstrate the constraints of private charities. After Hurricane Michael, Northwest Florida residents know individual responsibility has its limits when we face common dangers.
You can’t always get what you want but Buz Livingston, CFP can help you get what you need. For specific recommendations visit us online at livingstonfinancial.net or come by our office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.