Take a guess at how many hurricanes or tropical storms have hit New York during the state's recorded history. Answer: 84 (according to Wikipedia). And they can be ferocious, as those who were around for the Category 3 New England Hurricane in 1938, which struck Long Island, know. Irene and Sandy made themselves felt here too in 2011 and 2012.
Even though we are way north of the area considered most at risk of hurricanes, they still pose a dramatic threat to New York, especially Long Islanders. And experts predict the state is at greater risk than usual this hurricane season.
Major storms -- hurricanes and Nor'easters -- don’t even have to make landfall to make their effects felt on a big scale, producing heavy rainfall and flooding across hundreds of miles. Waves and tidal swells can cause structural damage and beach erosion.
But when they do land, as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma demonstrated so powerfully down South, they can flatten homes, topple trees and hurl boats and cars around as if they're toys. And they can kill.
As a major national research project, currently under way at the Center for Maritime Systems warns, the potential for damaging storm surge in New York "has multiplied with decades of growth and is exacerbated by the rise of sea level associated with climate change."
How ready are you for the next big one?
The City of New York insists that all residents should have a plan in case they need to evacuate or ride out a big storm.
Safety Preparation Tips
Actions you can take right now include:
- Create an evacuation plan. Know local hurricane evacuation routes and have a plan for where you'd stay while evacuated. Know where local shelters are situated.
- Prepare a disaster supply kit with medical supplies, a flashlight, batteries and local maps. Also pack some non-perishable food.
- Draw up a family emergency communication plan. Find a checklist here: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan .
- If you have a pet, build their safety into your plans.
- Ensure you have a battery-powered portable radio.
- Learn about the 24-hour NOAA weather reporting and alert service so you can tune if to the right frequency. You'll find more details and a downloadable brochure here: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane
- Try to maintain your home in a state of hurricane readiness, for example by securing loose areas like downspouts, gutters, roof tiles, etc. If you know your roof is insecure, reinforce it.
- Buy a portable generator that can also be used during other power outages. You may need a professional to install it. You can't just run your home power off a portable generator.
- If you're in a particularly vulnerable location, consider building a safe room or shelter -- but only if it's above designated flood levels. Find out more here: https://www.fema.gov/safe-rooms
Before You Do Anything Else!
If a hurricane strikes this region and damages or destroys your home and its contents, it would be a tragedy. But if you're insured, you'll have saved yourself a lot of potential distress.
Even if the area is declared a disaster zone, the best help you'll likely get are government loans that have to be repaid.
So, please talk to your insurance agent to check you're properly protected. Your homeowner's insurance will likely cover storm damage but it might have financial limits.
The policy also probably won't cover floods. So, discuss with them any additional need you might have for flood insurance.
The reason why this is important is the insurance companies won’t cover you for up to 30 days before a flood of within a few days of an expected hurricane landfall, so you can’t leave it until the last minute.
If you don’t have an agent, please speak to us at PRK Insurance.
What to Do if a Hurricane Threat is Announced
Prepare for the hurricane!
A Hurricane Watch means the storm may strike within 48 hours, so you would need to review your evacuation plan and your disaster kit. Make sure you draw and store sufficient drinking water for a few days.
Tune in to local radio, TV, NOAA and online sources to keep updated.
When the deadline is down to 36 hours, a formal Hurricane Warning is issued.
Time to check in with family and friends to ensure everyone knows what the others are doing. Plan for how you'll stay in touch if you lose power, Texting is the most likely to be effective.
Charge all family cell phones and portable electronic devices. Check portable radio batteries.
Follow any other advice from official city and community sources.
From this point on, perform the following actions:
- Bring loose objects inside or anchor others that might be unsafe to bring indoors such as propane tanks.
- Cover all your home's windows with plywood or close permanent storm shutters.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances
- Bookmark key Internet websites on your devices so you can access them quickly
- Evacuate if told to do so.
- If you're not in an area recommended for evacuation, turn your fridge and freezer to the lowest setting (to preserve food), ensure your car is fully fueled.
- As the storm approaches, stay as far inside the house as you can, and away from doors and windows.
After The Storm
Don't assume it's all over when the wind speed or rainfall appear to drop. Keep tuned in to emergency radio and online broadcasts.
If you've been evacuated, don’t return home until told to do so.
Watch out for downed power lines or loose debris and don’t walk or drive through flood waters -- just six inches of flowing water can push you over. Flood water may also be electrically charged from a damaged power line.
At home, take photos of any damage before attempting to clear up -- you will need these for insurance purposes -- and do what you can to prevent any further damage.
Check for potential hazards from loose fittings and timbers.
Before the Storm
Back to where we came in.
It is so, so important to prepare for hurricane danger before it's even in the air. It may never come -- and I hope it doesn't. But you can never say never.
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is while things are calm. Don’t wait for a storm warning before you take action.
PRK Insurance is your full service insurance agency. If you have questions about your home insurance or flood insurance, please contact us at 516-799-9001.