Hurricane Dorian reached record-breaking strength as it impacted the Islands of the Bahamas, ultimately making landfall as a category 5 storm. After causing unparalleled devastation through South Abaco and the City of Freeport, it slowly churned through the Atlantic towards Florida’s East Coast. Residents and visitors of Florida were on high alert for several days anticipating a direct hit, however, Dorian veered to the North and only brought heavy wind and rain from Miami to Jacksonville. The impact for Florida at first glance may have appeared minimal, but the news was not able to adequately capture the unseen and less talked about effects that will remain for decades.
How were Florida Homeowners Affected?
When you think about the damage a hurricane causes, the effects are usually physical, you can see the damage to the homes, cars, and the beaches. However, Dorian caused something different when it put the state of Florida in its path. Our physical damage was minimal, our effects were emotional and economical. Many homeowners were trying to decide if they should leave their home or if they should get prepared and stay put. Food, water, medicine, flashlights, batteries, candles, and generators were all purchased in preparation for the storm. Some were left unable to purchase goods they needed due to stores being out of stock of certain necessary items.
Dorian left us feeling vulnerable. We didn’t know what was coming or where and when it was going to hit. Paths changed constantly; the category continued to grow. It potentially could’ve affected a majority of the state, everyone was nervous. Families were left with decisions to evacuate their homes or stay and hope for the best. Those that did leave were safe and prepared but now have spent money they otherwise may not have. Many tourists and those new to Florida were even more concerned. Our families out of state wanted us to leave and get to safer ground. The impacts of this uncertainty will now set the stage as to how families and individuals respond to the next threat.
How Can Homeowners Be More Prepared?
Hurricanes and tropical storms can cause a vulnerable feeling and can create a sense of worry. ‘Are we prepared?’, ‘What else do we need?’, ‘What about the animals?’ These are common questions when a hurricane is going to impact an area. Hurricane season can last an extended period of time. We all need to be prepared at any moment from May through October, but how can we do that? Master Restoration has created a disaster checklist for your use. Begin by purchasing products that won’t expire or that can help in the event, but may need anyway. Batteries, generators, coolers, and flashlights are good things to think about purchasing before a hurricane actually hits. Generators are a good thing to think about ahead of time since they are more expensive and may require some planning in budget. They will be very beneficial in the event that power is lost for an extended period of time (think about all the food you’ll save in your refrigerator& freezer!). Purchasing these items ahead of time will cut down on costs when the event happens. You’ll simply have it all in storage until needed!
There are many other items to consider purchasing when preparing for a disaster. Master Restoration has created a resource guide to help with some of the basics. We suggest food items that will be easily stored and will not go bad. Canned food items and paper products are a good place to start since those you can purchase throughout the year as they are on sale and store in case of an emergency. We also recommend checking the expiration dates on these items periodically to ensure the items are safe to eat in the event of an emergency.
Call your insurance carrier before a disaster to find out your coverages. A hurricane may not be covered under your policy unless it is named. It is important to have water damage covered if you live in an area that could be affected by a storm or other type of water now. Knowing your policy will also allow you to understand if and when to file a claim. It may not be beneficial for a claim to be filed if you will not meet the amount of your deductible. This claim will end up being denied and the denial will stay in your file.
In the event a hurricane is headed in your direction, know your way out. If you are in an evacuation zone, know exactly what way you will need to go, and how quickly you are able to get out of your home with the essentials and any sentimental items you may want to save. Being prepared is the best way to alleviate stress and being overwhelmed.
How were Businesses Affected?
The storm benefitted our economy as it forced people to purchase additional items and get prepared for the storm. Businesses were affected a little differently than homeowners. While some of the business stayed open to help others prepare for the storm, others closed and boarded up in hopes of being open once the storm was over. These storms affect every business a little differently. Gas stations and grocery stores were shipping in more items than normal to supply the high demand. Many stores ran out of gas, water, soup, and other popular disaster items. We, specifically, spent time getting ready to assist homeowners and other businesses by purchasing extra materials, items to assist members of our community in need, we stocked trailer and prepared to travel for all technicians if necessary. Our technicians worked overtime to ensure no one was left without assistance if needed. Many businesses stayed open to allow those who were trying to prepare, get supplies and food.
Other businesses were forced to close to get themselves prepared for the storm. Business’ closing means some people didn’t work and lost pay for the days of no work. This caused some to be short of money when they needed it the most to purchase items to be prepared for the storm. The storm is also causing back to school sales to lack consumers. People aren’t spending the money they typically would on non-essential items. Planalytics has advised us that, “Consumer spending is expected to decline as much as $1.5 billion”. This will affect sales for the holidays as well.
Insurance companies also stayed open to benefit their clients in need. They prepared for an excess of calls from homeowners filing claims and requesting information on their policies. Agents assisted with clients who needed to know if they were covered by damage from the storm. While many people have this coverage in place already, some homeowners are unaware that their policies have certain types of limitations on their policies. This may state that you have a water damage limitation, so your policy may exclude your home from being covered during a storm. There may also be a limit that coverage is only awarded if a storm is named. It is important to know your coverages to be prepared for any out of pocket expenses or deductibles you may have from a result of the storm.
Living in Florida, there is an importance behind being prepared for a hurricane. With this, it is important to know who you would call in the event of an emergency or home damage. Master Restoration has provided resources to allow homeowners to be more prepared in case of an emergency and hope to assist however we can in the event our community needs assistance.