Caught Off Guard…

warning sign storm coming yellow sign thunderstorm rain clouds lightning Courtesy of bahri altayShutterstock

As a boy, I listened to stories about Hurricane Donna flooding the Florida Keys in 1960, with 13 feet of water and winds of nearly 180 miles per hour as it sliced through our state as a Category 4 storm on the way to North Carolina and Long Island. Other times the stories centered on Hurricane Betsy, which hit Key Largo in 1965 when I was just two as a Category 3 storm, before heading to Louisiana and flooding nearly 200,000 homes from almost 16 feet of storm surge. Betsy was “famous” for having been the first storm to cause over $1 Billion in damages and for years many called her Billion Dollar Betsy.

As one summer after another came and went, the older I grew the more apparent it became that I’d not get to see what one of these monster storms looked like up close. I can even recall being disappointed as I stared out a sliding door in my teens as a storm that promised to be the “big one”, and whose name I’ve since forgotten, fizzled into nothing more than a heavy rain.

Donna and Betsy were mere faint memories by the time Hurricane Hugo devastated South Carolina in 1989. I’d been an insurance broker for several years by the time that storm devastated Charleston and the areas near the coast and recall how surprised I was by the damage I read about and saw in pictures. I might not have seen one of these monster storms up close in my own lifetime but, from afar, Hugo made it clear that these things called Hurricanes were serious business.

Of course, 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, a monster storm by any measure, changed everything. Andrew, I dare say, caught South Florida off-guard and came at a time when many in our region had become complacent and others simply had no idea as to what to do. In the nearly 30 years since Billion Dollar Betsy visited South Florida a generation had been born and raised just like me, without seeing how devastating these storms can be and thousands more moved into our community from places all over the world. And then in just a few hours, Andrew leveled much of South Miami-Dade, displaced countless people by destroying or significantly damaging 200,000 homes and thousands of businesses. In those three or so hours that storm’s fury leveled an Air Force base designed to withstand 200 mile-an-hour winds and so destroyed a community (Homestead) that it took more than five years to rebuild.  When it came to damage, Andrew raised the bar to heights never before imagined.

And, today, I worry and wonder about whether the arrival of the 2016 storm season will be taken seriously. It’s been 10 years since a hurricane landed on our shores, since names like Katrina, Wilma and Rita caused so much of their damage and destruction. I wonder if home and business owners will be ready. Whether young insurers that have never paid a hurricane claim will be too. Having waited all those years to actually see one up close I can say for certain that I hope that I never see another one in person, but living in a region so ripe for such storms, I know that chances are good it will happen again sooner or later.

As the 2016 storm season arrives I am pleased to attach our annual Hurricane issue of our Your Protection newsletter. We’ve included expert predictions for 2016, examples of what to do to prepare before a storm and some suggestions to consider related to reviewing your insurance coverage. Speaking of insurance, I am also including an article entitled Why We All Need Flood Insurance that appeared recently in The Miami Herald and that can help you avoid from being caught off guard from a rising water (flood) claim.

For your summer reading pleasure, I’ve also attached a copy of Jeff Atwater’s most recent blog titled How Do I Know if I Have the Right Coverage in Place?. Jeff is Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and that topic and his blog posts are timely reading for anyone living or working in South Florida. The last item I’ve included, at the start of this year’s Hurricane Season, is an excellent article from The Miami Herald on the 1926 Great Miami Hurricane that so devastated our then young community 90 years ago this summer. 372 people died from that storm and another 43,000 were left homeless in a region with a lot fewer people in it than is the case today. The Category 4 storm was a wet one (Andrew in 1992 was not) with a storm surge on Biscayne Boulevard of 12 feet and pushed a 14 to 15 foot tall wall of water over Coconut Grove. For those us who don’t think these storms are powerful or that they don’t pose a threat to ‘modern’ South Florida, the story of the 1926 Hurricane, and the attached article, just might change your mind.

As has been the case since 1950, our agents and underwriters are here to help you keep from being caught off-guard. Whether before or after a storm visits our shores, please contact us at any time that we can help you. As always, thank you kindly for allowing us to provide your protection.

Trusted Insurance

"Savings & Service Has Been Our Policy Since 1950"
14821 South Dixie Highway, Miami, Florida 33176
P 305.238.1000 | F 305.255.9643

Independent agent