JUST PLAIN TALK: Trying to reason with hurricane season, make plans

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

Hurricane Elsa made landfall the day after my granddaughters, The Texas Tornadoes, hit town. Since they also leave destruction in their wake, it seems appropriate for my annual hurricane preparation column. Without tropical storms, we would face a rainfall deficit. While tropical storms and hurricanes are inexorably linked to our area, you must plan for them. Use the state's disaster planning website, www.floridadisaster.org. Then, click on "Get A Plan." Compared to Florida's unemployment website, this one works.

The first three days after a storm are on you, full stop.

After or during a storm, text instead of calling. Text messages go through when phone calls won't. If you call and it gets dropped, don't immediately redial; it ties up the tower. Instead, wait a few minutes before trying again.

Have enough food and water for three-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 (small bills); ATMs may not be working. Work on an evacuation plan and notify relatives or close friends. If you have medical needs, address them now. Sadly, after Hurricane Michael, some people died when their oxygen machines lost power.

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. If you evacuate, take your insurance policy, either a hard copy or electronically. Be aware flood claims may be difficult to coordinate with wind claims. Review your insurance now. South Walton rebuilding costs are higher than average; plan accordingly. Ensure you have appropriate coverage for your vehicles; comprehensive auto coverage extends to damage caused by wind and flooding. Wind damage from hurricanes has much higher deductibles. 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.

When hurricanes blow, libertarians scatter. 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; 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 figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.