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OPINION

JUST PLAIN TALK: Trying to reason with hurricane season

Buz Livingston

When two hurricanes spin the Gulf of Mexico simultaneously, and all Florida gets out of it is some rain, hopefully, gratitude abides. Expect the unusual; it's 2020. The projected landfalls, at least by my deadline, appear to be west of Pensacola, but now is an excellent time to update your plan. If you don't have something to update, start now. Use the state's disaster planning website, www.floridadisaster.org. Compared to Florida's unemployment website, this one works.

Buz Livingston

After or during a storm, text instead of calling, text messages go through when phone calls won't. If you call and it gets dropped, don't immediately redial; you tie up the tower. Wait a few minutes before trying again.

Have enough food and water for three to five days minimum, one gallon per person per day. Have additional water for hygiene. Use manual can openers and fill up your car. Keep plenty of cash; ATMs may not be working.

Work on an evacuation plan and notify relatives or close friends. If you have medical needs, address them now. Sadly, after Hurricane Michael, some people died when their oxygen machines lost power. If you are at-risk for Covid-19, consider evacuation versus going to a shelter.

Don't use candles; they are messy and a fire hazard. Locate your flashlights; grandkids have a way of playing with them when you aren't looking. Make sure you have plenty of batteries on hand for flashlights and radios. Today we rely on modern technology, but over-the-air broadcasts don't depend on cell towers. If you live on the coast, a battery-operated radio is essential. Fully charge all electronic devices.

Take evacuation notices seriously; don't wait too late to leave. If you evacuate, have a copy of your homeowners’ policy, either hard copy or electronically. Be aware flood claims may be difficult to coordinate with wind claims. Review your current insurance policies.

South Walton rebuilding costs are higher than average, plan accordingly. Make sure you have appropriate coverage for your vehicles; comprehensive auto coverage extends to damage caused by wind and flooding. Wind damage from hurricanes has much higher deductibles. 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.

When hurricanes blow, libertarians scatter. Federal taxes subsidize (heavily) flood insurance. Government employees, civilian and military, track hurricanes, not private companies. Over half of the Commerce Department's budget funds the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Disasters also vividly demonstrate the constraints of private charities; individual responsibility has its limits when we face common dangers.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by, masked, 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.