Hurricane Season is Underway June 1 is the official starting date for hurricanes, but Tropical Storm Ana jumped the gun making landfall a full three weeks before the season got underway. You may call that an ominous sign or just a fluke since hurricane forecasters are calling for a less than average number of hurricanes this year.
"We expect a moderate to strong El Nino event to significantly reduce Atlantic storm activity due to increases in vertical wind shear,” said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist with Colorado State University. “However, below-average Atlantic hurricane seasons do not guarantee that there will be no significant impacts in Texas. For example, in 1983, Hurricane Alicia made landfall near Galveston in a season that had only four named storms all season."
Hurricane Alicia packed winds of 115 miles per hour and caused $3 billion in damage. The state’s last hurricane, Hurricane Ike, made landfall on September 13, 2008. Ike claimed more than 100 lives and it was the costliest storm to ever hit Texas inflicting $12 billion in insured property losses. Often forgotten in the discussion on the property losses from Ike, is that while TWIA paid for $2.5 billion in losses and the National Flood Insurance Program paid $2.2 billion in losses, the voluntary insurance market paid the remaining $7.5 billion for Texas claims.
Hurricane Ike caused extensive wind damage in Houston knocking out power to thousands of residents for more than a week. Ike continued to wreck havoc as it moved further inland over parts of east and northeastern Texas.
Coastal residents are urged to review their insurance coverage, and if you live in an area subject to flooding or have questions about whether you should have flood insurance, talk with your agent. Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program and is not covered under your homeowners’ policy. If the storm has already begun approaching the coast, it will be too late to buy flood insurance. This is because flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period after purchase before coverage takes effect.
Later this summer, the Insurance Council of Texas along with the National Weather Service, the Texas Department of Insurance and independent insurance agents will visit various coastal cities in an effort to educate coastal residents on storm preparedness.
In late August, this small group of insurance and weather experts will travel the entire Texas coast line notifying coastal residents about how to prepare for the next storm and steps they can take to make sure they have the necessary insurance coverage, as well as knowing what to do when the storm makes landfall. This year will be ICT’s 10th year to provide this service to coastal residents.
“Our message is placed out there in newspapers, radio and television saying the storm will come, so begin planning now. The message includes a call for an evacuation plan, taking an inventory of your property, having the right insurance in place and being prepared to be away from your home for days or even weeks,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for ICT. “Our message reaches approximately three million English and Spanish-speaking coastal residents every year. We want everyone living on the coast to have heard our message at least once.”
The Insurance Council of Texas is the largest state insurance trade association in the country consisting of approximately 500 property and casualty insurers writing business in Texas. For more information click on www.insurancecouncil.org or http://www.facebook.com/insurancecounciloftexas ###