Prepare This Hurricane Awareness Week - 27 East

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Prepare This Hurricane Awareness Week

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At roughly 11:00 a.m., Sag Harbor Firefighters Peter Topping, Mike Labrozzi and Kelly Bailey used a canoe to transport a Bay Avenue, Pine Neck resident and his pets who had become stranded due to rising water during hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012.    MICHAEL HELLER

At roughly 11:00 a.m., Sag Harbor Firefighters Peter Topping, Mike Labrozzi and Kelly Bailey used a canoe to transport a Bay Avenue, Pine Neck resident and his pets who had become stranded due to rising water during hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012. MICHAEL HELLER

Joseph Finora on May 2, 2024

May 5 to 11 is Hurricane Preparedness Week, and a “very active” tropical cyclone season is projected for 2024 in the Atlantic basin, according to the Insurance Information Institute Department of Atmospheric Science, meaning the time to prepare is now. Advance planning is key to hurricane survival.

“We anticipate a well above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean this season,” said Phil Klotzbach, Ph.D., a research scientist in the department of atmospheric science at Colorado State University and scholar at the Insurance Information Institute, which is forecasting a 62 percent chance of a major hurricane making a mainland U.S. landfall — the average from 1880 to 2020 is 43 percent — with a 34 percent chance of one hitting the East Coast.

Early forecasts call for 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes and five major hurricanes during the 2024 season, which starts on June 1 and continues through November 30. A typical Atlantic season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

The 2023 season produced 20 named storms and seven hurricanes. Three reached major hurricane intensity. Major hurricanes are defined as those with wind speeds reaching Category 3 (111-129 mph), 4 (130-156 mph) or 5 (157+ mph) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

“Current El Niño conditions are likely to transition to La Niña conditions this summer/fall, leading to hurricane-favorable wind shear conditions,” Klotzbach said. Sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Atlantic are currently at record warm levels and are anticipated to remain well above average for the upcoming hurricane season. A warmer-than-normal tropical Atlantic provides a more conducive dynamic and thermodynamic environment for hurricane formation and intensification.

One hurricane and two tropical storms made continental U.S. landfalls last year. Tropical storms have sustained wind speeds of 74 mph or greater. Hurricane Henri was the last major storm to hit eastern Long Island (August 2021) mostly deluging the area from Montauk to Manhattan with high winds, heavy rains and floods, highlighting the importance of being financially protected from catastrophic losses, includes having suitable levels of property insurance and flood coverage. While not as widely reported, a surge in severe convective (SCS) or thunderstorm activity also generated an unprecedented amount of insured losses over 2023, impacting millions of homes across the U.S. Yet many are surprised to learn that flood damage is usually not covered under standard home insurance policies.

“People tend to focus on the dollar amount of their coverage rather than the coverage,” noted Dermot Dolan, the principal at Hamptons Risk Management in Bridgehampton. “Policies should be reviewed annually to know exactly what and how much is covered.”

According to a Redfin survey, the average annual U.S. home insurance rate is expected to rise 6 percent this year to $2,522 after surging 19.8 percent between 2021 and 2023. Homeowners typically believe that their policies covered damage from flooding or are not sure. While wind-damage coverage is regularly included, rarely does a homeowner policy cover flooding. The same holds true for condo, renters or business insurance policies. If you’re concerned about your vehicle’s survival in a storm, consider that private-passenger vehicles damaged or destroyed by wind or flooding are generally covered under an auto insurance policy’s optional comprehensive provision. Insuring your home and vehicle with the same carrier typically provides significant savings.

“Homeowners often think they have flood coverage because they are covered for water damage should a pipe burst,” Dolan added. “That does not qualify for flood coverage, which applies to natural water flow or storm surge.”

While flood insurance is now offered by several carriers, traditionally it has been available through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (floodsmart.gov). Such policies can be purchased from an agent or broker. A private insurer would cover policy gaps should one need more coverage than the NFIP furnishes.

In addition to making sure your shingles and shutters are tightly fastened and trees trimmed, now is a smart time for homeowners and business owners to review insurance policies with an agent to ensure they have the right amount and types of coverage, including for damage from wind or water. Homeowners can also make their residences more resilient to windstorms and torrential rain by installing roof tie-downs, a reliable drainage system, a wind-rated garage door and storm shutters. Such upgrades can potentially generate savings on a homeowner’s insurance premium.

Do not wait until a storm is brewing to create a photo/video inventory of your possessions as well as your home’s exterior. This simple step will ease the claims-filing process. It is also wise to prepare a hurricane emergency kit with a minimum two-week supply of essential items such as drinking water, nonperishable food, medications, flashlights and extra batteries. Similarly, no family should be without an evacuation plan which should include a predetermined off-site meeting location should individuals become separated.

What About My Business?

 

A business-continuity plan prepares your operation for a wide range of events that could interrupt your business as opposed to simply doing damage. Though a storm may not structurally damage your facility it may cut off power for an extended time period — possibly days, adversely affecting equipment and operations. It may make it impossible for key employees to get to work, supplies to arrive or orders to ship. What steps would you take under these circumstances? Do you have back-up equipment? An alternative location? An available line of credit? While no insurance policy guarantees your customers will come back, companies can mitigate and reduce their exposure with Business Interruption Insurance. Such coverage can help supplement a business’s income if it cannot operate due to a covered loss.

Flood business insurance, a relatively new product, can help businesses and public entities that are unable to get standalone business insurance, which is not included under the National Flood Insurance Program.

“Flooding causes billions of dollars in losses across the U.S. every year yet only 20 percent of those losses are covered by insurance and a massive part of that uninsured loss comes from business interruption,” said Rich Coyle, the U.S. commercial director at FloodFlash. Vulnerable business sectors include hotels and hospitality, sport and leisure, retail, health care and assisted living, real estate, manufacturing, municipalities and educational institutions.

How To Naturally Reduce or Prevent Flooding

 

Do Not Cut Grass Too Short: When grass is too short, under 2.5 inches, roots will not thoroughly spread, limiting the ability to absorb moisture. Keep grass between 2.5-3 inches high.

Use Rain Barrels: A gutter downspout can flood a lawn. Water collected in a rain barrel can later be used for irrigation.

Plant Native Species: Native plants can generally manage excess moisture in the soil. Similarly, the extensive root systems of ferns, shrubs and small trees can help prevent/reduce flooding.

Spread Hardwood Mulch: A heavy bark and/or wood mulch will help contain soil while a lighter mulch such as pine needles or grass clippings tends to get moved by excess water.

Use Gravel, Not Asphalt: Rainwater runs over paved driveways and can go onto your lawn or into a structure. Conversely, moisture will soak into the space between gravel and pavers and flow into soil.

Level Slopes, Add Retaining Walls: Water will flow with the slope of the land, i.e., toward a foundation if the land slopes in that direction, potentially causing significant flooding and property damage. Retaining walls can contain mudslides and landscape instability.

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