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Hurricane season begins in June and runs through November. Most residents of Georgia can feel the effects of major storms and hurricanes that form in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, but residents along the coast are, of course, the most vulnerable.

Last year, eight of the 14 named tropical storms became hurricanes. This year officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting that five to seven hurricanes could threaten coastal areas from Texas to Maine.

The common thread among all major hurricane disasters is the lack of hurricane education and preparedness. Becoming aware of your vulnerability and what actions you should take can help reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.

Tips for basic preparedness
  • Educate yourself about the meaning of the terms tropical storm, hurricane watch and hurricane warning.
  • Listen for official storm bulletins.
  • Learn evacuation routes and prepare an evacuation plan.
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit of dry food, safe drinking water, medical supplies, blankets, flashlights, battery-operated radios, and fire extinguishers.
  • Review your insurance policies for protection against storm, wind, and flood damage.
  • Complete an inventory of personal property.
  • Have vehicles fueled.
  • Cover windows with storm shutters or with sheets of plywood.
  • Secure outside objects, such as lawn furniture and grills.
  • Provide for pets. Have a secure pet carrier and leash.
  • Know to take refuge in the basement or a small interior room, closet or hallway away from windows or doors.
Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine offers homeowners these tips for hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe weather.
  • Well before storms strike, decide if 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.
  • Make a list of your valuables, furniture, electronics, etc. A photographic or videotape 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. An accurate record of your possessions will be invaluable if you need to file a claim with your insurance company.
  • Keep auto and homeowners policy numbers, and your agent's phone number, in a safe place as well.
  • While a standard homeowner's insurance policy covers damage from high winds and tornadoes, it does not cover damage from flooding. A separate policy must be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program, and can only be purchased if you are in a designated flood plain, and if your community participates in the national program. Some manufactured home policies may cover damage caused by floods, while others may not. Check your policy or ask your agent.
  • If disaster strikes, contact your agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
  • After the storm passes, take steps to protect your property from further damage. For example, if your roof is leaking, cover it with a tarp. Most policies won't cover after-storm rain damage.

For in-depth information about storm and hurricane preparedness go to

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