Those of us who call Southeast Texas home know that the gulf coast is a special place. Many of us love taking our families to the beach, enjoying the views of the open water, and exploring the waterfront communities in areas like Crystal Beach. All the benefits of coastal living, however, are not without the risk of hurricanes.
When a storm is on the horizon, here are 4 steps to take to make sure you, your family, and your home have a plan in place to ride it out.
- Evaluate your resources.
Consider the necessities you’ll need, should you lose access to any utilities. Do you have enough drinking water? Do you have a backup generator, in case you lose power? Take inventory of your canned goods, bottled water, batteries, and flashlights, and make sure you have enough to get you through several days.
Don’t wait until a storm is on its way in to decide you need a generator, fill up your pantry, or check your propane levels. Hurricane essentials go fast when a storm is on the way, and you’ll be dealing with long lines and limited products. It pays to be proactive, and assemble your hurricane essentials while the weather is fine!
- Look at the forecast and make a plan.
When a storm is in the forecast, before it is actively heading your way, it’s time to make your plan of attack. Every hurricane is a little different - some bring rain, some bring wind, some bring a little bit of everything.
First, decide whether you’ll evacuate, or hunker down at home. If you do leave, where will you go, and how long will you stay there? Allow ample time for travel, as traffic does get a little crazy during such times.
If you have kids, prepare a backpack with each child that will include some clothes, essential toiletries and medications, and a toy or stuffed animal that will be easy to grab if you need to vacate your home on short notice.
If you have pets, make sure they’re microchipped in case they get lost during a storm. If you decide to evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind - this will put them at risk of being injured, lost, or worse. Instead, you can look for pet-friendly hotels, stay with friends or family who enjoy your furry friends, or ask trusted neighbors to look after them.
- Batten down the hatches.
Whether you decide to evacuate or ride out the hurricane at home, it’s important to prepare your home for the storm before it hits.
Keep sheets of plywood and 2x4s on hand, so you can protect your windows and support exterior doors and prevent them from blowing in.
If you’re in a low-lying or flood prone area, you can check with your county’s department of emergency management to request sandbags. Here are some helpful links to the nearby county websites where you can learn more about requesting sandbags:
It’s also important to know your home’s construction. The engineering and materials used to build new homes are becoming tougher and tougher, so if your home is a newer build, it’s more likely to hold up effectively to storms. It pays to know and trust your builder.
- Before the hurricane hits - make sure your insurance is in good shape!
One of the best ways to be proactive before a hurricane hits is to make sure your insurance is in good shape.
Having a conversation with your insurance agent is the best way to understand your policy and coverage. “Don’t be afraid to interview an agent,” says Allison Wright, an agent with Farmers Insurance in Lumberton, TX. “Be comfortable with that agent as a person, because they are in charge of protecting your assets.”
When reviewing your policy, your agent will evaluate the replacement value of your dwelling. This process takes into account a variety of factors, including the age of your home, the materials it was built with, and the square footage. Once your agent understands what rebuilding the home would cost, should it be impacted by a hurricane or other emergency, they can help you determine whether you are under- or over-insured.
A good insurance agent will also make sure any other structures on your property are covered, and that any personal property (for example, computers, cameras, art, collectibles, or other high-value items within your home) are protected.
Your agent can also help you understand what is covered in your existing policy. For example, windstorm damage may be covered in a separate policy and flood insurance is always separated from your home insurance policy.
“Flood insurance rates have changed dramatically,” Wright says. “FEMA has gone through a rating methodology change, so if someone has not had flood insurance it could be more or less than what they’ve heard. We encourage everyone to speak to their agent about the possibility of getting that coverage, or understanding what your expenses might look like in the event of rising water, if you choose not to purchase a flood insurance policy.”
Understand your insurance before something happens, so you know what to expect if your home encounters any damage during a hurricane or other storm.
Enjoy life on the Gulf Coast - hurricanes and all - with your own custom home in Crystal Beach! Contact Landon Wright with Prestige Custom Builders at 409-313-3383 to talk about building your own home. And give Allison Wright a call at 409-751-4414 to talk about your insurance, and make a plan for the upcoming hurricane season!