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Tropical Strom Erika - Pay close attention to the experts and prepare

Tropical Strom Erika - Pay close attention to the experts and prepare

An email from a client down in the Leeward Islands this week prompts me to write this blog.  While Tropical Storm Erika is not forecast to cause a lot of damages to the Windward Island Chain is was clearly a reminder to these folks about last years storm.  Here is what my client had to say: “waited in line at the bank for over an hour, it was packed, the island is in a panic mode because of the 2nd tropical storm that is approaching and especially because of Hurricane Gonzalo last year.”

As our readers may remember Tropical Strom Gonzalo was predicted to be just that, a tropical storm. Unfortunately, in just a matter of hours this storm went from a tropical storm to a hurricane. Folks had turned in for the night and as daylight approached it was clear a major increase in the storm intensity had occurred in a matter of hours. Officially listed as a Cat 1 in St Maarten, wind gust were reported as high as 130 MPH in the higher elevation of the Island. Needless to say, because of lack of preparation due to the expected forecast of only a tropical storm, there was a significant amount of property damage and several deaths on the island. The folks in the Caribbean are hurricane tested, experienced, and know the drill. Gonzalo was a sleeper and had they known the intensity would explode over night, things would have been much different. But then we are dealing with Mother Nature, predictable to a degree but in the end, controlled by no one.  You can read about this storm here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Gonzalo.  As you will note, this storm went on to become a Cat 4 hurricane.

As of Thursday August 27 we are reading that some weather forecasters are warning about Florida being in the cross hairs of Erika. Most of these folks are not predicting a major hurricane of a Cat 3 or above, but the forecasts are full of uncertainty. If in fact, Erika becomes a hurricane and if it hits South Florida as a Cat 1 hurricane, it’s unlikely catastrophic damages on the scale of Hurricane Andrew or Katrina will occur, but there will be damages from wind, flooding, loss of power, possibly fires and many other causes that quite frankly are hard to predict. And remember, if Erika becomes a hurricane, you’ll be faced with high deductibles and exclusions Florida insurance companies have successfully pushed through to limit their financial exposure.  So if for no other reason, you need to make plans to protect your love ones, your property and where possible lend a hand to your neighbors and community.  Big insurance will not be there for a Cat 1 hurricane. Having said that, lets hope this storm gives some much needed rain to South Florida and let that be it!

Remember the lessons from my friends in the Caribbean. If Tropical Strom Erika can ramp up to a Cat 1 hurricane, it can possibly intensify to something much more ominous. I am told that South Florida has experienced a 40% growth in population since Hurricane Andrew struck the Homestead Community in 1992. And then there was Hurricane Wilma in 2005. I doubt you would find anyone who stayed put in Wilma that would not say that they wished they had planned better and listened to the emergency management folks.

Even with the calm storm season we’ve had, it only takes one. Stay safe and pay attention to Ms. Erika. As pleasant as some may think her name sounds, she can be a potential destructive force to reckon with. As always, the professional public insurance adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates are here to help with any property insurance related questions you may have. Please call 800.321.4488 or contact a public adjuster to submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts.

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Shirley Heflin
  Dear Dick: I am so glad I read your blog entry today if for no other reasons than to (a) prepare for the unexpected and (b) not give my 75 y.o. mom such a hard time as I did this morning for telling me that a Hurricane was on the way! After my mom told me that, I continued getting ready for work and as I did I tuned into Baynews 9 - whose job it is to tell you the weather report every 9 minutes - and I listened to it for nearly an hour and never heard them say the word "hurricane." Nonetheless, after reading what you wrote, you are so right: EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED and even the weather people cannot CORRECTLY PREDICT MOTHER NATURE ALL THE TIME! Finally, I owe my mom an apology which I will render when I get home today and I will do what she asked me to do which is stock up on canned goods and bottled water today! Thank you. Again, I'm glad I read your professional advice and I'm going to become a frequent reader from this day forward. Respectfully, Shirley Heflin Tampa, Fla.
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