Weather Center

Prepare for More Coastal Hurricanes in Texas

By Peter Simek 4.13.18

Sadly, there’s not much more you can do when a hurricane is bearing down on the Texas coast than brace and prepare for the worst.

That’s the position Rob Barjenbruch, agency manager of Texas Farm Bureau Insurance’s Victoria office, learned the hard way in 2017, when his home in Port Lavaca bore the full brunt of powerful Hurricane Harvey. Barjenbruch says many homeowners board up their windows; stock up on food, batteries, and fuel; and prepare an evacuation plan. But there are some preparations that you don’t think about until the worst happens.

Prepare for the Worst

“Buy as much bug spray as you can,” Barjenbruch says. “Everyone buys batteries and water, but three to four days after the storm cleared out, the mosquitos were horrendous.”

Other must-haves, according to Barjenbruch:

  • 10 days of clothes stored in waterproof containers or plastic bags.
  • Copies of your insurance policies.
  • Extra cash for up-front or unforeseen expenses.

In Barjenbruch’s case, temporary lodging, moving and storing belongings after the storm, and covering the costs of necessities that would later be reimbursed were all unexpected expenses that came at a difficult and vulnerable time.

When You Evacuate

If you must evacuate your home before a storm, Barjenbruch says to elevate any personal belongings that cannot be replaced. Turn off the power, because if power is knocked out, it may surge when it comes back on and surge-damaged appliances may not be covered in your insurance policies.

Barjenbruch says homeowners often forget to turn off their water as well. After Harvey, he had clients whose homes survived the hurricane but were damaged after the local municipality turned the water back on after the storm and built-up pressure from air in the empty pipes caused them to burst. 

Buying the Right Insurance

If you live in a coastal county that is rated a tier-one hurricane risk, you will be required to purchase three policies: homeowners, windstorm, and flood. Windstorm will cover damage from wind, hail, and, through a wind-driven rain rider, moisture from the storm. Flood will cover damage from rising waters, and homeowners will typically cover fire, theft, and other named perils. But it is important to have all three, and to make sure that you are up-to-date on your payments.

“You can have damage from all three or one or two and if you don’t have coverage in place, you are not going to have any coverage,” he says.

Outside of tier-one counties, homeowners may not be required to buy flood or windstorm insurance, but Barjenbruch recommends that anyone remotely near the coast consider purchasing flood insurance or adding a wind-driven rain rider to their home policy.

“People wonder, ‘Should I get flood insurance? I’m not in a flood zone,’” Barjenbruch says. “Now, we’ve had Wimberley, where homes that were 150 years old and never had any flooding are now gone. Now we’ve had Houston, where people who were not in a flood zone had 3 to 4 feet of water in their homes.

“If you are close to a river, a creek, or a coastal area in any shape or form, and especially in larger cities where everything is concrete, flood insurance offers great peace of mind.”

Call your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent today to determine what coverage would best fit your needs, and make sure you’re prepared for any weather.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation.

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