Storms: Dealing with the Uncertainty in the Tropics

When trying to prepare for the pending arrival of Tropical Storm Erika, uncertainty is a major issue for property and business owners. Where will the storm strike Florida? Will Erika intensify to become a hurricane, remain a tropical storm, or weaken before landfall?

Many South Florida homeowners, business owner and homeowner/condominium associations are now making their pre-storm preparations based on their “guesstimates” of Erika’s projected path and intensity. After all, a storm that might brush past the region is of less concern than a powerful windstorm like Hurricane Andrew in 1992 or “Superstorm” Sandy in 2012.

But it’s important to remember that a tropical storm or category 1 hurricane can still have powerful localized thunderstorm cell that produce hail or mini-tornados. Even if South Florida, as a whole, receives relatively little damage, that’s small consolation if your home, business or condominium is crushed by a falling tree or flooded by heavy rains.

A decade ago, Hurricane Wilma ripped up trees, flooded roads and damaged office towers in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, even though it was just a relatively weak category 1 hurricane. Sadly, some of the property owners who suffered major losses from Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 had to fight with their insurers for years before finally resolving their claims.

Today’s reports from the National Hurricane Center indicate that Erika’s winds and rain are likely to strike South Florida on Sunday night/Monday morning. So, please take advantage of the next two days to prepare for the storm, and pay special attention to documenting the condition of your property and your valuable personal possessions in case you need to file a post-Erika insurance claim.

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