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Important Information from a Florida Hurricane Damage Law Firm

2019 Hurricane Season Alert

Tips From Florida Hurricane Insurance Claim Attorneys

Hurricane season is a difficult time of year for South Florida residents. Stretching from June to November, hurricane season has caused massive property damage in Florida over the years. And Florida’s coastal areas remain at high risk for future hurricanes. Fortunately, Florida residents have some options in the face of this destruction. They can take practical steps to minimize hurricane property damage. And for the inevitable hurricane damage that cannot be avoided, they can strive to obtain compensation for their losses with the help of a Fort Lauderdale hurricane claim attorney.

South Florida Suffers Regular Hurricane Damage

The Sunshine State has more than its share of stormy weather. South Florida in particular suffers regular property damage during the annual hurricane season. Any long-time resident can confirm this, and the statistics bear it out with 7 of the 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history hitting Florida.

Predictions for 2022 Hurricane Season

Just before the start of the 2022 hurricane season, experts from NOAA were predicting an above-average season for the 7th consecutive year. The hurricane season starts June 1 and often hits the west coast of Florida with a slew of early season storms.

Two months into the season, NOAA revised its prediction slightly. At that point, only three named storms had made an appearance, and the Atlantic Basin had seen no hurricanes. In an average season, 14 storms develop to the point where they qualify for a name, seven of those storms evolve into hurricanes, and three of those hurricanes are classified as “major.”

When a hurricane develops sustained wind speeds of at least 110 miles per hour, it is rated a Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale and is considered a major hurricane. If sustained wind speeds climb to 130 m.p.h., the storm is rated as a Category 4, and a storm reaches the highest rating at Category 5 with wind speeds of 157 m.p.h. Since official record-keeping began, only four hurricanes had made landfall in the continental United States with winds over 155 m.p.h.

September Started with Hopes for A Quiet Hurricane Season in Florida

This year, no tropical cyclones formed in August for the first time since 1997. The first hurricane, Danielle, formed unusually late in the season in early September and brought some heavy winds and rain into Portugal. Hurricane Earl followed but stayed away from land, causing only a few power outages in Bermuda.

Toward the middle of the month, Hurricane Fiona developed in the Caribbean, making landfall in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic before strengthening into a Category 3 hurricane as it passed near Grand Turk Island and later reaching Cat 4 strength in the open ocean. The storm passed to the far west of Bermuda and did not approach land until it reached Canada with hurricane-force winds. Flooding and high winds caused death and destruction in Canada and the Caribbean, but the continental U.S. was untouched.

While Fiona churned northward through the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Gaston brought some wind and rain to the western and central islands in the remote Azores chain west of Portugal. A few days later, Tropical Storm Hermine dumped up to ten inches of rain in the Canary Islands.

In the closing days of September, it looked like Florida might continue to enjoy a quiet hurricane season.

Hurricane Ian Makes Up for Lost Time

As if trying to make up for the lack of hurricane damage in the first two-thirds of the season, Hurricane Ian hit Florida with unexpected ferocity. Record storm surges inundated communities along the coast while inland flooding and high winds also contributed to the astronomical damage toll. With wind gusts in the 200 m.p.h. range and an unusually high amount of lightning in the eye, Hurricane Ian caused fire damage as well as devastation from the excessive wind and water. Tornadoes damaged Broward County even before the main portion of the storm made landfall. In total, Hurricane Ian may have caused as much as $47 billion in insured losses. If the estimate is accurate, this would make it the most expensive storm in Florida’s history.

Heavy damage is reported throughout more than 25 Florida counties. Some of the areas hit hardest include:

  • Punta Gorda
  • Venice
  • Fort Myers
  • Naples
  • Sanibel Island

The State of Emergency encompassed the entire state of Florida because of the widespread effects of the powerful storm. 

What Happens When A State of Emergency Is Declared

The governor can declare a State of Emergency for a region when a disaster has occurred or is expected to occur resulting in severe damage. State governments can also request a declaration of a federal emergency. These declarations enable the government to take quick actions they would not be able to otherwise. They can also provide additional sources of funding for recovery.

For example, with Hurricane Ian, Governor Ron DeSantis initially issued an emergency order for 24 counties about five days before the storm made landfall. He soon expanded the order to include all of Florida and FEMA approved a request for federal assistance and disaster relief several days before the storm’s arrival in Florida. During a State of Emergency, the Florida Division of Emergency Management coordinates the provision of resources such as food, water, and pumps. The Florida National Guard activates Guardsmen to serve at various staging areas. Government restrictions may be relaxed such as when the Florida Department of Transportation waives weight and size requirements for vehicles transporting relief materials. After the storm, emergency funds may be available for restoration efforts.

How To Minimize Property Damage From South Florida Hurricanes

Florida homeowners can take steps to minimize property damage from hurricanes, including the following:

  • Storm Shutters: Installing storm shutters will protect your home against debris. They are also less likely than plywood boards to be detached during storms.
  • Secure Windows and Doors:  Installation of hurricane glass, designed to withstand high winds and debris, is advisable. If you do not have storm shutters, plywood boards should be used to cover windows. The homeowner should also invest in solid entry doors and garage doors. Garage doors should be braced when a storm is coming.
  • Roofing: Roofs can be reinforced or held down with hurricane straps.
  • Landscaping and Surroundings: Large trees and shrubs should be trimmed to avoid damage to the house during high winds. Also avoid landscaping materials that can be blown against the house, such as gravel.

What To Do If a Hurricane Damages Your Property

If your property suffers hurricane damage, you should look to your insurance company for compensation. Unfortunately, home insurers employ numerous tactics to deny or delay claims creating insurance disputes. Just some of these tactics include claiming your damage existed prior to the hurricane or that the damage was caused by storm surge instead of the hurricane. No matter the reason, you may need to push back against the insurance company to receive the benefits you deserve.

A Broward County hurricane insurance attorney can fight for your cause. The attorney can negotiate with the insurance company, take over the claims process, and take legal action if necessary. When insurance company tactics are impeding your claim, a hurricane damage lawyer can make the difference.

Our Florida Hurricane Lawyers Are Ready To Help

If you are having difficulty obtaining insurance compensation for your hurricane-damaged home, contact our experienced South Florida hurricane insurance law firm today.  To schedule a consultation, contact us via phone or online form.

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Posted By: Carol Austin