Almost two weeks have passed since Hurricane Sally ripped across Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Though the storm is long gone, the damage continues to reveal itself. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Geodetic Survey (NGS) released aerial footage to show just how hard the storm hit Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. As the images continue to be released to the public, our understanding of the storm’s effect continues to deepen.
HOW MUCH DAMAGE DID HURRICANE SALLY DO?
It has been reported that two lives have been lost due to the intensity of this storm. One day after the hurricane made landfall, about half a million people were without electricity in the southeast. Pensacola and the Gulf Coast were hit with so much flooding that the water reached the door handles of vehicles in most areas. Pensacola experienced an average of four month’s worth of rainfall in a total of four hours. Business owners reported having to use chainsaws to cut through the wreckage to enter their buildings. In addition to all of this damage, new concerns have grown as the water has displaced wildlife, leaving alligators to roam some residential areas.
The aerial footage recently released mostly shows the extensive damage to the marinas and the Pensacola Bay Bridge, specifically. Sections of the bridge are missing after being hit by a barge that became loose from the hurricane.
WHAT MADE HURRICANE SALLY SO HARMFUL?
Though the winds of the hurricane were traveling over 100 miles per hour, the storm itself was moving at an alarmingly slow rate. It traveled between three and five miles per hour. At first take, this slow moving hurricane seems like it would be a positive, but a storm moving this slowly can actually pose more longstanding damage. Believed to be an aspect of global warming, slow storms can come with a larger amount of water and longer-lasting winds. The slower the hurricane is, the longer it takes to end its havoc.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUFFERED HURRICANE DAMAGE TO MY PROPERTY?
Contact your insurance company to discuss your policy. Immediately document all of the damage as soon as possible. Your insurance company will send a representative out to do an inspection of the damage, but you have the right to hire your own inspector to compare notes. You will also want to get a trusted lawyer on your side, just to help you understand the fine print of your insurance policy in the event that your insurer does not follow through with your claim. Your lawyer can also be a big help in filing that initial claim, and he or she can continue to help you through the claims process. On a larger scale, Florida lawmakers are on the move to improve the hurricane claims process. However, until those laws are in full effect, it is up to you to protect yourself during these moments of emergency. If you believe your insurance company is purposely avoiding your open claim due to hurricane damage, contact us today at Keller Melchiorre & Walsh.
HOW CAN I PREPARE MYSELF BEFORE THE NEXT HURRICANE?
The Atlantic hurricane season runs the course of six months, going from June to November. The storms are categorized on a scale of 1-5 with a Category 5 hurricane including winds of over 155 miles per hour. Because the impact of the storms can vary over time, it’s best to create a plan today so that you know exactly what you will do in the event of an emergency before it happens.
To prepare, the Florida Disaster initiative suggests using the following four questions to model your family’s emergency plan:
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
For business owners, it is suggested that you consider obtaining any or all of the following toolkits to keep your business and staff safe from harm:
- Business Emergency Preparedness Social Media Toolkit
- Earthquake “QuakeSmart” Toolkit
- Hurricane Toolkit
- Inland Flooding Toolkit
- Power Outage Toolkit
- Severe Wind/Tornado Toolkit
For more helpful information, visit our website to access our free Hurricane Preparation Guide.
YOUR NEXT STEPS IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED HURRICANE DAMAGE
If you or a loved one have experienced hurricane damage at home, now is the time to start contacting your insurer to see what kind of coverage you have. Consider running your policy by a trusted lawyer to make sure you understand every bit of your coverage. Immediately document all of your damage and file a claim as soon as possible. If what your insurance company offers does not meet the agreement in your insurance policy, contact us at Keller Melchiorre & Walsh today to set up a consultation to discuss your needs. Let a legal professional help guide you in this decision today so that you can be on a better path tomorrow for you and your family.