ATLANTA — National Hurricane Preparedness Week runs through Saturday, and officials are urging residents to use the time to get prepared.
"There is a lot of good information that comes out each day that people may not think about," Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges said. "It can happen to us, and if you don’t have some kind of plan in place, it is much more difficult on your family to react all of a sudden. Also, talking to your children about this issue makes them feel better if something does happen. They feel more prepared."
Forecasts vary about the number of storms. Most however, such as Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project, predict it will be an average year with about 13 named storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean. Six of them will be hurricanes, including two major hurricanes with sustained winds in excess of 111 mph.
AccuWeather, which predicts three storms hitting somewhere along the U.S. coast, said in a news release about summer weather that the season will be calm early. The lingering effects of El Niño will limit the chances of early season tropical develompent, but activity will ramp up during August, according to long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok.
The season starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens is reminding property owners that now is the time for an insurance checkup to be sure you have adequate homeowners or renters coverage.
"Our coastal residents face the most danger if a tropical storm or hurricane strikes," he said. "However, even residents who live further inland face the hazards of strong winds, heavy rain and inland flooding. To protect your property from the financial impact of destructive storms, a homeowners, renters or flood insurance policy tailored to your particular needs is your best option."
The commissioner suggested that property owners discuss their insurance needs with their insurance agent.
One important factor to consider is whether you want actual cash value coverage or replacement-cost coverage. With actual cash value, you will receive only the current value of an item when you file a claim. In other words, you’ll get only "used" prices for your furniture, TV, etc. With replacement-cost coverage, your claim amount will be enough to purchase new items.
Once you have insurance, make a list of covered items, such as furniture, electronics and other valuables. An electronic record is a good idea. Keep copies of the list or photos in a safe place outside your home, such as a safe deposit box or stored online with a cloud service. An accurate record of your possessions will be invaluable if you need to file a claim with your insurance company.
Flood insurance coverage for your home or business is available for up to $250,000 from the National Flood Insurance Program. You can purchase flood insurance directly from state-licensed property and casualty insurance agents or insurance companies. Your insurance agent can confirm whether flood insurance is available to you and what it would cost.
Anyone with insurance questions can visit the Department of Insurance online at www.oci.ga.gov or call toll free at 1-800-656-2298. Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.