Is Hurricane Irene Headed to Cape Cod?

August 25, 2011

According to the projected path, Hurricane Irene is still days away from hitting Massachusetts, and will likely land in the area by early next week. While forecasts more than 4 days out have a margin of error of up to 200 miles, Cape Cod residents should still be on alert and begin getting prepared in case Irene hits Massachusetts with significant force. Currently, Irene is rated as a category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of up to 115 miles per hour. However, Irene is expected to intensify as it hovers over the warm waters of the Bahamas. According to projections, Irene could land in Massachusetts as a tropical storm with sustained winds of 73 miles per hour. Regardless of what happens, it is important that Cape Cod residents prepare for the storm.

Preparing for the storm

In 2007, FEMA released a disaster planning advisory, detailing what people should do to prepare for a disaster. FEMA notes that the first 72 hours after a disaster are critical, because this is when electricity, gas, water, and telephones would be the most likely to be out of commission, and public safety services may not be able to reach you immediately in the instance of an emergency. Each person should be self-sufficient for three days following a disaster; this means able to live without running water, electricity, gas, and telephones. Here's what you should keep on hand:

  • Food - nonperishable food for each person
  • Water - store at least a gallon a day per person, also store disinfectants such as iodine tablets
  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlights with extra batteries - do not use candles or matches unless you are positive that there are no gas leaks
  • Weather radios - internet, telephones, or TV service may be down, so keep a weather radio with extra batteries on hand
  • Miscellaneous - blankets, clothing, shoes and money
  • Alternative cooking sources - camping stove
  • Special items - medications
  • Tools - adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water and a shovel or a broom for cleaning

Make sure to pay attention to the NOAA weather radio:

  • watch is issued by the National Weather Service when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain
  • warning is issued when a hazardous event is occurring or has a very high probability of occurrence. Warnings advise of a threat to life or property.
  • An advisory is issued when a hazardous event is occurring or has a very high probability of occurrence. Advisories describe events that cause significant inconvenience.

Similarly, Red Cross also issued a hurricane checklist that has additional information.
Homeowner's insurance recommendations

  • Before the storm, find a copy of your insurance policy and review it
  • After the storm, survey the damage to your home
  • Is your home liveable?
  • Is the damage more than your windstorm/hurricane deductible (typically 1%, 2% or 5% of Coverage A)
  • Prevent further damage (board up a window, cover the roof with wood or a tarp, etc.)
  • Take picture of the damage - this is especially helpful when there are many claims. Insurance adjusters won't be able to come right away if there are many claims due to a hurricane. Pictures with date and time are invaluable.
  • If the damage is more than your windstorm/hurricane deductible, you may need to submit a claim, however, know that your local agent might be busy taking many claims. Your local agent may place claims in the order of need. If someone can't live in their home, that person will come before someone who wants to have his fence or garage repaired.
  • Have the necessary information handy when you call your agent:
    • Copy of your policy
    • Date damage happened
    • Brief description of damage
    • Best way an insurance adjuster can reach you (home phone, cell phone, email, etc.)
    • Offer to email pictures you took of the damage
    • Be respectful: of course it is upsetting to have your home and belongings damaged, but realize your insurance agent is working for you and is doing his/her best to take care of your needs as fast as possible.

Regardless of what happens, know that Murray & MacDonald Insurance Services will be open for business, and taking claims if need be. Murray & MacDonald Insurance has contracted Agility Recovery Services in the event of a disaster. We will have internet and phone service, and we will be open to service our clients.