Hurricane Harvey blew into south Texas on the 27th anniversary of Texas guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan’s tragic death. In 1983, when he wrote “Texas Flood,” people used telephones and when “all of the telephone lines are down” communication ended.
Fast forward … a generation of people use phones differently. Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, allowed first responders and volunteers to contact people stranded by rising waters. Hot-shot television preachers found themselves shamed by social media into opening their churches.
Other things change, too, not just communication. During the funding debate after Superstorm Sandy, Texas Republicans overwhelmingly voted to deny assistance. Now they are the ones peddling false news claiming their 2012 votes were fiscally responsible gestures. Facts do not support their argument. Ironically the same folks who delayed aid to the Northeast can’t wait for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to respond. Put petty partisan politics aside, and get the money to Southeast Texas.
Marketwatch’s Rex Nutting wrote, “Harvey shows individual responsibility has its limits when we face common dangers.”
The best entity to respond to a disaster like Harvey is the federal “gub-mint.” Volunteers play a crucial role, but a calamity of this magnitude overwhelms private charities and individuals. Also, the White House’s 2017-2018 budget proposes sharp funding cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the folks who track hurricanes. As a coastal property owner, I appreciate hurricane forecasting, silly me. Disaster recovery begins before the disaster.
We are still in the middle of hurricane season. Long-time Florida residents recall years with multiple storms. Houstonians were lucky in a sense — power remained on for most of the area. Make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand for flashlights and radios. Today we rely on modern technology, but radios don’t depend on cell towers. If you live on the coast, a battery-operated radio is essential.
Use Harvey as a warning. Review your current insurance policies. Be aware flood claims may be difficult to coordinate with wind claims. Automobile comprehensive coverage extends to damage caused by wind and flooding. Wind damage from hurricanes has much higher deductibles. Ordinance coverage cover mandated code upgrades. Before the storm take digital pictures of your home, personal property, and automobiles. Email them to someone you trust or store them online.
After a storm, take reasonable steps to limit the additional loss of personal property and further damage to the structure. Report damages to the agent and insurance company as soon as possible. Document all expenses, living expenses may be covered under your homeowner's policy but not if the loss is solely from flooding.
Back in the '70s, Jimmy Buffett wrote “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.” Go to FloridaDisaster.org, click on the “Get A Plan!” link.
You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit livingstonfinancial.net or come by the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.