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Preparedness Tips

Step One: Prepare for the Worst

  • For personal safety during a hurricane, identify what storm shelter is available to you and prepare an evacuation plan. Choose two meeting places: one right outside your home; and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
  • Make sure you have bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, non-perishable food items, blankets, clothing, prescription drugs, eyeglasses, personal hygiene supplies, and a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks.
  • Make a plan for your pets. Not all emergency shelters will take pets. Check with your local veterinarian for help with a plan.
  • If you need to evacuate your home, turn off all utilities and disconnect appliances.
  • Take proactive steps to protect your property from loss. Install storm shutters or cover windows prior to a hurricane. Be sure there is no loose siding on your home and no damaged or diseased trees growing over your home.

Step Two: Take an Inventory of Your Property

  • It's always a good idea to take photos or videos of your home before a disaster strikes to properly record the condition of the home. If you use a digital camera, e-mail the photos to yourself, a friend or a relative or store them on a Web site.
  • Take an inventory of your personal property, such as clothes, jewelry, furniture, computers and audio/video equipment. Photos and video of your home, as well as sales receipts and the model and serial numbers of items, will make filing a claim simpler. Leave a copy of your inventory with friends or relatives, e-mail it to yourself, and/or store it in a safe location. In addition, add insurance information to your inventory information - the name of your company and agent, policy number and contact information.
  • Move all of your important documents to a safe location. Take them with you when you evacuate or store them in a safe deposit box outside the area.
  • To assist you with your inventory, you may want to use the Home Inventory Checklist.

Step Three: Review Your Insurance Coverage

  • Review your insurance coverage. What does your insurance policy cover? What does it exclude?
  • The standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage. Check to see if your policy covers debris removal and sewer back-up.
  • Find out if your policy covers additional living expenses to reimburse you for the cost of living in a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home.
  • If you have jewelry or collectibles, check the limits of coverage. You may want to buy more coverage for these items.
  • What is your deductible? You will have to pay at least this much if you have a covered loss.
  • Be sure you understand the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value.

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Hurricanes

2016 Hurricane Season - June 1st - November 30th

NOAA: Near-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season is likely this year

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season will likely be near-normal, but that’s no reason to believe coastal areas will have it easy.

For the hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 - November 30, NOAA is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of 6 to 11 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including zero to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). While a below-normal season is likely (70 percent), there is also a 20 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season.

With the new hurricane season comes a new prototype storm surge watch/warning graphic from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, intended to highlight areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by storm surge from a tropical cyclone.

The new graphic will introduce the concept of a watch or warning specific to the storm surge hazard. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. In addition, while most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical cyclone’s winds, evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge. Having separate warnings for these two hazards should provide emergency managers, the media, and the general public better guidance on the hazards they face when tropical cyclones threaten.

2016 Storm Names

The following names will be used for named storms that form in the North Atlantic in 2016.

  • Alex
  • Bonnie
  • Colin
  • Danielle
  • Earl
  • Fiona
  • Gaston
  • Hermine
  • Ian
  • Julia
  • Karl
  • Lisa
  • Matthew
  • Nicole
  • Otto
  • Paula
  • Richard
  • Shary
  • Tobias
  • Virginie
  • Walter

2016 Hurricane Related Press Releases (pdf)

Mississippi Hurricane Wind Mitigation Program

What is it?

To help Mississippians identify how they can strengthen their homes against hurricanes, the mitigation program will offer free wind inspections by qualified hurricane mitigation inspectors to eligible homeowners.

Not An Entitlement Program

  • Homeowners whose homes have undergone wind certification and hurricane mitigation inspections approved by MID may be eligible to apply for matching grants.
  • The program will work with local governments to offer low-income homeowners an opportunity to strengthen their homes against natural disasters.
  • Properties not eligible include mobile homes and manufactured homes, apartments, condominiums, multi-family dwellings and businesses.

A Wind Inspection Will:

  • Outline improvements that may be made to the home to increase resistance to hurricane wind damage.
  • Provide an estimate of how much each improvement would cost to complete.
  • Provide an estimate of insurance discounts that may be available.
  • Offer a hurricane resistance rating that shows the home’s current ability, and future ability with improvements, to withstand hurricanes.

Insurance Discounts

  • If you provide insurance information at the time you applied for an inspection and you are eligible for an insurance discount based on the inspection of your home, you will receive a mitigation form completed and signed by the MID-approved inspector who conducted your free wind inspection.
  • Your wind inspection report will give you an estimate of the discounts you might receive on the wind-portion of your homeowners insurance premium. Savings will vary depending on the improvements you make.
  • The homeowner is NOT obligated to make the alterations or repairs.

Reimbursement

  • You will be reimbursed when improvements have been completed.
  • You must use an approved contractor to make improvements and improvements must be made within 12 months of the grant award date on your letter.

Made possible by an act of the Mississippi Legislature 2007.

Wind Mitigation Techniques Slideshow

     

Wind Mitigation Related Press Releases

Links and Resources


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Tornados

Learn the Warning Signs

Tornadoes can strike with little warning, though meteorologists are now better able to predict the signs a twister is coming. Even a few minutes warning provides an opportunity for those in harm’s way to seek shelter. In communities with a history of tornado activity, there may be a warning siren and/or a digital messaging system to alert residents that they should seek proper shelter immediately.

Other signs of tornadoes are:

  • Dark greenish skies
  • Large Hail
  • Dark, rotating, low-altitude cloud
  • Loud roar, like a train

Know the Difference Between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning

A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. Be alert to changes in the weather, account for all family members, and listen to local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. Move cars inside and keep car and house keys with you. If time permits, move lawn furniture and equipment inside to minimize flying debris. If a tornado siren sounds, stay inside and take cover. A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been spotted or is indicated on weather radar in your area. This means anger is imminent and you may only have seconds to take cover.

Seek Shelter When a Tornado Has Been Sighted

Do not try to outrun a tornado. Stay calm but move quickly to the safest place possible. Here are some suggestions:

At Home:

The safest place to be is underground. Basements are usually the most protected area, but if this is not an option take cover in central part of the house away from windows: a bathroom, closet, interior hallway, or under a heavy piece of furniture.

In an Office Building or Skyscraper:

Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building—away from glass and on the lowest floor possible—and crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter and, if they are not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off elevators, you could get trapped if the power is lost. If you are in a tall building you may not have enough time to evacuate to the lowest floor.

At School:

Follow the staff instructions and go to an interior hall or room in an orderly way as directed. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In a Car or Truck:

Abandon the vehicle and seek shelter in sturdy structure. If you are in open country, seek shelter in the nearest ditch. Lie flat, face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can.

Mobile Home:

Get out! Even if the home is tied down, you are probably safer outside. Additional safety information is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

After a Tornado

  • Stay in your shelter until after the storm is over or emergency personnel have arrived.
  • Check the people around you for injuries. Carefully begin first aid or seek help if necessary.
  • When you go outside, watch out for downed power lines and stay away from any puddle with wires in them.
  • Do not use matches or lighters - there may be leaking gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.

Insurance Coverage for Tornado Damage

Damage caused by tornadoes is covered under standard homeowners and business insurance policies, as well as the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. If you sustain tornado damage contact your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible. Let your insurance company know the extent of the damage. After tornadoes and other disasters, insurance companies will reach out to those with the worst losses first. If you have vacated the premises, make sure your insurance representative knows where and how to contact you.

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide coverage for additional living expenses (ALE) in the event your home is destroyed or made unlivable because of the tornado. ALE covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other expenses, over and above your customary living expenses, incurred while your home is being rebuilt, so keep receipts and talk to your insurance professional if you have any questions about this or any other part of your insurance policy.

Tornado Recovery Tips

If you suffer damage from a tornado:

  • Have your insurance company’s name and policy number ready to speed up the claim process.
  • Keep all receipts for expenses for any damages to your home.
  • Be careful before you enter any damaged property and be careful of escaping natural gas, live electrical wires and collapses.
  • Take pictures of any damages before you repair both inside and outside. If possible, make temporary repairs to your property to prevent further losses.
  • Hire licensed and reputable contractors for repair work. Call the Mississippi State Board of Contractors at 1-800-880-6161 or visit their website at www.msboc.us to determine if a contractor is properly licensed.

If you have not suffered damage there is still time to prepare for the next round of storms

  • Move all of your important documents to a safe location; store them in a safe deposit box outside the area.
  • Take an inventory of your personal property, such as clothes, jewelry, furniture, computers and audio/video equipment. Photos and video of your home, as well as sales receipts and the model and serial numbers of items, will make filing a claim simpler. (A home inventory checklist is available on the Consumer Publications List page of the MID website at www.mid.ms.gov
  • Leave a copy of your inventory with friends or relatives, e-mail it to yourself, and/or store it in a safe location. In addition, add insurance information to your inventory information - the name of your company and agent, policy number and contact information.

When Hiring Help for Debris Removal and Repairs:

  • Save receipts so they may be properly reimbursed by their insurance company.
  • Be wary of costs that may seem exorbitant for the work performed.
  • When paying for tree and debris removal, you will typically be paying for hourly labor.
  • Ask the contractor up front how many hours will be required and how many men he will use for the job (A generally acceptable rate for tree removal for example is $50 -$60 per hour per person on the crew. ***Note that there can be special circumstances which would make that rate higher)
  • If you are being charged more ask questions as to why the rate is higher.
  • Get a written copy of the agreed upon amount before the work begins.
  • Always pay by check or money order and keep a receipt. The charges must be a reasonable amount. Again if you have questions, contact your insurance company before employing a contractor.

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Lightning

Lightning Safety: Myths vs. Facts

With 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any given time on Earth, it’s important to be able to sort out the myths from the facts when it comes to lightning safety. And keep in mind that the best lightning safety plan of all is to take shelter in a house or other structure, or a hard-topped fully enclosed vehicle during a storm: “When thunder roars, go indoors!”

MYTH 1 – LIGHTNING NEVER STRIKES THE SAME PLACE TWICE
Fact: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building was once used as a lightning laboratory, because it’s hit nearly 25 times per year, and has been known to have been hit up to a dozen times during a single storm.

MYTH 2 – LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES THE TALLEST OBJECTS
Fact: Lightning is indiscriminate and it can find you anywhere. Lightning hits the ground instead of trees, cars instead of nearby telephone poles, and parking lots instead of buildings.

MYTH 3 – IN A THUNDERSTORM, IT’S OK TO GO UNDER A TREE TO STAY DRY
Fact: Sheltering under a tree is just about the worst thing you can do. If lightning does hit the tree, there’s the chance that a “ground charge” will spread out from the tree in all directions. Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties.

MYTH 4 – IF YOU DON’T SEE CLOUDS OR RAIN, YOU'RE SAFE
Fact: Lightning can often strike more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even the thunderstorm cloud. “Bolts from the Blue,” though infrequent, can strike 10?15 miles from the thunderstorm. Anvil lightning can strike the ground over 50 miles from the thunderstorm, under extreme conditions.

MYTH 5 – A CAR WITH RUBBER TIRES WILL PROTECT YOU FROM LIGHTNING
Fact: Most vehicles are safe because the metal roof and sides divert lightning around you. The rubber tires have little to do with protecting you. Keep in mind that convertibles, motorcycles, bikes, open shelled outdoor recreation vehicles, and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection at all.

MYTH 6 – IF YOU’RE OUTSIDE IN A STORM, LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND
Fact: Lying flat on the ground makes you more vulnerable to electrocution, not less. Lightning generates potentially deadly electrical currents along the ground in all directions, which are more likely to reach you if you’re lying down.

MYTH 7 – IF YOU TOUCH A LIGHTNING VICTIM, YOU’LL BE ELECTROCUTED
Fact: The human body doesn’t store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid.

MYTH 8 – WEARING METAL ON YOUR BODY ATTRACTS LIGHTNING
Fact: The presence of metal makes virtually no difference in determining where lightning will strike; height, pointy shape and isolation are the dominant factors. However, touching or being near long metal objects, such as a fence, can be unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby—if lightning does happen to hit one area of the fence, for example, the metal can conduct the electricity and electrocute you, even at a fairly long distance

MYTH 9 – A HOUSE WILL ALWAYS KEEP YOU SAFE FROM LIGHTNING
Fact: While a house is the safest place you can be during a storm, just going inside isn’t enough. You must avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as corded telephones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, plumbing, metal doors or window frames, etc. Don’t stand near a window to watch the lightning. An inside room is generally safe, but a home equipped with a professionally installed lightning protection system is the safest shelter available.

MYTH 10 – SURGE SUPPRESSORS CAN PROTECT A HOME AGAINST LIGHTNING
Fact: Surge arresters and suppressors are important components of a complete lightning protection system, but can do nothing to protect a structure against a direct lightning strike. These items must be installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system to provide whole house protection.

Thunderstorm/Lightning Safety Tips

Before Thunderstorm and Lightning

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

During Thunderstorms and Lightning

If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

After a Thunderstorm or Lightning Strike

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.
  • After the Storm Passes Remember to:

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don’t drown!
  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

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Hail\Ice Storms

Safety and Preparation Tips

  • Stay Informed Hail often occurs during severe weather patterns, such as strong thunderstorms. When severe weather threatens, tune in to a battery - powered radio for updates.
  • Move Inside, Stay Inside Hailstones vary greatly in size, but even small ones - driven by gravity and strong winds - pose a danger to anything or anyone caught in a storm.
  • As a storm approaches, put vehicles in the garage and bring pets inside.
  • If you are outdoors, go indoors immediately. Once you’re indoors, close all drapes, blinds, or shades to prevent broken window glass and hailstones from entering your home.
  • If possible, move to a basement, cellar, or other level of the building not directly below the roof.
  • Stay indoors until the storm has passed.
  • If you’re on the road during a hailstorm, stay in your vehicle and slow down or stop, as roads may become slippery.
  • Once you have pulled over safely, turn your back to windows or cover yourself with a blanket to protect yourself from broken glass.
  • Roof damage is a common consequence of hailstorms. Following a strong storm, you should evaluate the condition of your roof to identify any damage and prevent further deterioration.

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Recovery Tips

After Disaster Strikes and Your Home is Damaged

  • If you evacuated, wait until authorities determine it is safe to return to your area after a storm. If you're told by authorities to stay out, stay out.
  • Make sure conditions are safe before you assess your damage and attempt emergency repairs.
  • Make sure your home is structurally safe. Be extremely careful inside your home. Debris may be hazardous, and the potential for collapse may exist. If you're told by authorities to stay out, stay out.
  • Notify creditors if bills have been lost or you're unable to pay.
  • Ask your utility company to stop billing if your home is unlivable or has been destroyed.
  • Prepare to file an insurance claim by gathering all relevant policy numbers.
  • File your claim as soon as possible. Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame. Be aware, if a widespread disaster has occurred, the company may set up special procedures.
  • Be sure you cooperate fully with the insurance company. Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file a claim. Keep a diary of all conversations with insurance companies, creditors or relief agencies.
  • Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information will only cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • If your home is damaged to the extent that you can’t live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses.
  • Take photographs/video of the damage.
  • Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Don’t have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage.
  • Inventory your home for damaged or lost items before your adjustor arrives. This will speed up your claim process.
  • Maintain any damaged personal property for the adjuster to inspect.
  • Ask the adjuster for an itemized explanation of the claim settlement offer.
  • Be patient and assist claims adjusters assigned to your case. Small losses may be settled quickly; extensive claims will take longer.
  • Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs covered by your insurance policy.
  • Be wary of contractors who demand upfront payment before work is initiated or payment in full before work is completed. If the contractor needs payment to buy supplies, go with the contractor and pay the supplier directly.
  • Get more than one bid. Ask for at least three references. Check with the Better Business Bureau about the contractor. Ask for proof of necessary licenses, building permits, insurance, and bonding. Record the license plate number and driver’s license number of the contractor.
  • Work with a qualified tax expert to find out about tax breaks you may be eligible for because of your losses.
  • If you have any questions or problems with your claim or insurance company contact the Mississippi Insurance Department Consumer Services Division at 601-359-2453 or 1-800 562 2957.

After a Claim is Filed

  • If you can’t cover all of your expenses, contact your creditors to negotiate a payment plan.
  • If there is a disagreement about a claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently.
  • If the first offer made by an insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate to get a fair settlement.
  • If you believe you have been treated unfairly in getting a claim paid, please contact the Mississippi Insurance Department at Main Switchboard: 601 359 3569 Statewide Toll Free: 800 562 2957 (Consumers Only)

Making Repairs

Disaster victims who hire laborers and contractors to remove trees and debris from their damaged property are urged to save receipts so they may be properly reimbursed by their insurance company.

Follow these tips when considering hiring someone to help with the cleanup of your damaged property:

  • Insurance companies may not be obligated to pay the full amount on a receipt submitted for reimbursement for tree and debris removal. To make sure you get fully compensated, consider contacting your insurer ahead of time before employing someone to remove trees or debris or rebuilding.
  • When paying for tree and debris removal, you will typically be paying for hourly labor.
  • Ask the contractor up front how many hours will be required and how many men he will use for the job (A generally acceptable rate for tree removal for example is $50 -$60 per hour per person on the crew. ***Note that there can be special circumstances which would make that rate higher)
  • If you are being charged more ask questions as to why the rate is higher.
  • Get a written copy of the agreed upon amount before the work begins.
  • Always pay by check or money order and keep a receipt.
  • The charges must be a reasonable amount. Again if you have questions, contact your insurance company before employing a contractor.

If you have questions or problems with filing or completing your claim, call our Consumer Hotline at 1-800-562-2957.


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Contact Numbers


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