As Volusia residents enter the month of September, the most active month for hurricane season, now is the time to consider any last minute preparations to secure property. Remember, any severe storm can be deadly or destructive. According to Volusia.org, more than 4,800 homes, businesses and facilities were impacted by Hurricane Irma (September 2017). Many of those were still recovering from impacts of Hurricane Matthew (October 2016).
The very first step to making sure a home is protected is by checking the homeowner’s insurance policy. If a homeowner waits until a storm is approaching, coverage will not be available. Homeowners should insure their home based on it’s replacement cost, the amount needed to rebuild it if damaged or destroyed. Replacement cost offers more protection because the cost of building a home often exceeds market value – what the home would sell for in its current condition.
Homeowner’s insurance and windstorm insurance does not include flood insurance. All homeowners in the coastal communities of Volusia county, especially beachside, should carry a separate flood policy regardless of whether the property is located in a flood zone. Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States. Insurers pay out billions each year. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage.
Before and during hurricane season, make sure a property is in good repair and meets local hurricane building codes, declutter drains and gutters, trim trees, secure loose outdoor items and plan a safe location to move vehicles during a hurricane.
To prepare for an approaching storm, it is recommended to secure windows and doors, reinforce roof and garage doors, have a disaster supply kit, use the safe-room concept, plan for the whole family’s health and welfare and provide security for valuables and important documents.
Across the county, bridges will be locked down when winds reach a sustained speed of 39 miles per hour or a land evacuation is ordered. First responders and emergency vehicles will not be able to access beachside locations in case of emergency until the lockdown is lifted.
Plan for 72-hour survival and to include the following items in a hurricane kit: non-perishable foods, water, first aid kit, personal hygiene and sanitation items, flashlights, extra batteries, waterproof wallets and file folders for cash and important documents, manual can opener, lighter or matches, special needs items for pets and young children, coolers, ice packs and a plan in case family members are separated.
Residents can prepare and stay informed by downloading the Volusia County EM app, available for free on the Google Play or App Store. The app features weather alerts and current conditions, preparedness checklists, links to county sites, locations of the nearest open shelter and sandbags locations, evacuation information, push notifications and more. Residents can also follow Volusia County Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates related to Volusia County.