Being prepared is the best defense against any disaster. As we enter another hurricane season, it’s important to have a fully stocked disaster supply kit, have an emergency plan for your family, and have a list of local emergency management contacts in your community.
Go to ReadyHarris.org for preparedness tips and/or download the free ReadyHarris app, from the App Store or Google Play. The ReadyHarris app delivers real-time weather alerts, hosts a step-by-step guide to building a personalized family disaster plan, offers survival tip sheets, maps evacuation routes and locates local emergency services. Your emergency supplies kit must have enough non-perishable food and water to last 7 to 10 days.
Get FEMA's "How to Prepare for a Hurricane" guide here.
Are You Covered? Flood Insurance:
Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. A single inch of water in an average home can cost more than $26,000 in damage. Proper insurance can mean the difference between full recovery and financial devastation.
Homeowners and renters insurance do not cover flood-related damages, but affordable flood insurance is available if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The average flood insurance policy costs about $700 annually. After Harvey, more than 91,000 Texans filed flood insurance claims, and NFIP has paid out an estimated $8.8 billion.
No one should rely on federal disaster assistance to make them whole after a catastrophic weather event. Federal assistance is only available if the president declares a disaster. To protect yourself and your property, please consider purchasing homeowners or renters insurance as well as flood insurance and wind insurance. Each type of insurance covers different things, and they are the only way you can expect to be made whole after a disaster. For more on these insurance types, visit https://go.usa.gov/xQ7px.
Homeowners can acquire up to $350,000 of flood coverage through NFIP, with $250,000 for the building itself and another $100,000 for its contents. Owners of residential properties with five or more units can purchase $500,000 of structural coverage and $100,000 for the structure’s contents. Commercial property owners can purchase $500,000 of structural coverage and $500,000 of coverage for contents. Renters can cover contents up to $100,000.
Property owners outside of high-risk areas should know 26 percent of all NFIP claims come from areas considered to be at low or moderate risk for floods. In those lower-risk areas, property owners may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy, which provides the same level of coverage as a standard policy, but at a lower cost.
NFIP insurance is only available in communities that participate in the program and pass floodplain management regulations to reduce the impact of future weather events. To find out if you’re in an NFIP community, contact your insurance agent or your local floodplain manager.
For additional information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4332 or visit this page on my website.
Hurricane Preparedness Month Quick Links:
Essential Items to Have Ready in Your Disaster Preparedness Kit include:
- Copies of your insurance papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
- First-aid kit
- NOAA weather radio and batteries
- Mobile phone and charger
- Supply of prescription medicines
- Sleeping bag or blankets
- Changes of clothes
- Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant
- Cash or checkbook
- Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding and vaccination records
Residents should review and update their homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies to make sure they include coverage for accidental damage, natural disasters and, if necessary, flood and windstorm insurance
Keep kids in mind when preparing your emergency kit
- All families should have an emergency kit ready in case of evacuation or utility outages
- Families with children should pack additional items to keep kids comfortable, such as:
- Learn more at www.ready.gov/kids
If you are asked to evacuate:
- Leave as soon as possible
- Secure your home; lock windows and doors
- Unplug appliances; turn off electricity and main water valve
- Pack your supplies kit, extra blankets and sleeping bags
- Take your pets with you
- Make sure your gas tank is full
- Follow recommended evacuation routes
If you are staying home:
- Identify a safe room, an area with no windows; stock it with a battery-powered TV/radio with spare batteries, sleeping bags, pillows, snacks and water
- Secure your home; put away outdoor objects and furniture
- Fill bathtubs with water for non-drinking use (such as flushing toilets)
- Wait until storm passes to come out
Residents who need help evacuating should dial 2-1-1 to register for transportation assistance. The State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) is a free service available to the elderly, people with disabilities or special medical conditions, and individuals who do not have a motor vehicle or other means of transportation.
It is important to stay informed before, during and after a hurricane. Sign up to receive weather and emergency alerts at www.readyharris.org and closely monitor the news media. Local officials will provide information about current conditions, evacuations and re-entry. Residents can also follow HCOHSEM on Facebook and Twitter.
In addition to your personal preparedness, consider getting involved in neighborhood and community emergency preparedness activities. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills. CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Call Harris County Citizen Corps at (281) JOIN NOW (564-6669) or go to harriscountycitizencorps.org to sign up for classes or to get information about other volunteer opportunities. You can also get Harris County Citizen Corps news and updates on Facebook.