Ask the Experts: Be Prepared for Hurricane Season
This year’s hurricane season has begun and many customers throughout the BancorpSouth footprint live in areas that have historically been affected by tropical storms. BancorpSouth sought hurricane preparedness advice from BXS Insurance President of Consumer Solutions, Scott Naugle.
Scott holds a degree in Insurance and Risk Management from Penn State University. Additionally Scott first directly experienced disaster recovery through the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1977. Since moving to Mississippi over a decade ago, Scott has subsequently been directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina and numerous other high-damage tropical storms.
“I very quickly learned how a storm comes onshore, how it affects people and the aftermath. The first days after an event, you can’t count on anything. You could be looking at two to four days of no information, power, no supplies. That’s why it’s best if people evacuate.”
Here are Scott’s seven most important tips for hurricane preparedness:
- Know your evacuation plan
Know where you're going to go. Know the best route to get there, bearing in mind there are often congested highways and the possibility that fuel may be in short supply. If the area is under evacuation, do not try to stay behind. This is by far the most important tip.
- Make arrangements to stay for a long period of time
Because it’s an unknown, you don’t know if you’ll get back in three days or three weeks. When you do get back you don't know if there will be services such as electricity or water. You may need to prepare to go back and forth for several days. During recovery, you will still need a base for an unknown length of time. It’s much easier to make arrangements beforehand than to figure it out during an emergency.
- Do home preventative home maintenance
Take a walk around your house or building right now. If there’s a loose window, a couple of loose shingles, boards at the bottom of the house with some rot, fix those things now. Two or three loose shingles can come off under high winds and take a large section of other shingles with them, exposing the roof. Wind and rain then cause significant damage.
- Budget for storm disasters
Know what your windstorm, hurricane or named storm deductible is on your property. For example, if it’s 2% of the home’s value, that could be several thousand dollars. If you have an insurance claim, you may have a higher deductible than you anticipated. It’s important to have enough money set aside to cover the cost of a deductible.
Budget for the cost of evacuation. Don’t count on government assistance, and certainly don’t count on it coming quickly. Budget for recovery supplies. Have a month’s worth of living expenses, including accommodations, groceries, and other supplies set aside in an emergency fund.
- Buy lumber in advance
If you don’t have shutters as part of your house, buy plywood to board up your windows now and store it away for when a storm is coming. If you wait until a storm arrives to buy plywood, you will likely find it has all been sold out.
- Make sure your plan includes pets
Pets were one of the most heartbreaking things I saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Many people who were evacuating at that time were traveling to hotels that did not allow pets. Unfortunately, many people left their pets behind. While some were able to reunite with their pets, some were not. When you’re evacuating, make sure you can take pets where you’re going. When traveling with pets, make sure to bring food and pet supplies with you.
- As you return, don’t assume there are any services or supplies
Come back with a carload full of non-perishable groceries and food. Come back with repair supplies since you don't know in what condition your home may be. Come back with tarps and roofing nails. Bring mops, buckets, bleach, and cleaner in case water entered your home, and you have to address mold. And bring back PLENTY of drinking water. In other words, come back assuming nothing will be readily available to buy.
If you don’t prepare for a hurricane, it will likely be too late at the time of the event to do anything. You should prepare so you can protect your property, your family, your pets, and at the very least, mitigate damage. Preparedness shortens the time for you to recover.
Want even more tropical storm information?
Check out our list of resources for disaster relief.