Weather Disaster Preparedness

Before The Storm

Step One: Prepare for the Worst

  • For personal safety, 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.
  • Pack a bag or box with bottled water, a first aid kit, flashlights, a batterypowered 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 electronically.
  • 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. To assist you with your inventory, you may want to use the Home Inventory Checklist.
  • 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.

Step Three: Review Your Insurance Coverage

  • Review your insurance coverage. What does your insurance policy cover? What does it exclude?
  • The standard homeowner’s 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.

Did You Know?

Did you know you can save money for storm losses? A “Catastrophe Savings Account” is a tax advantaged regular savings account or money market account to help with losses. Find out more at Catastrophe Savings Account


Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. The storms produce powerful winds, heavy rain, storm surges, flooding, rip currents, tornadoes and landslides.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30.

Before your area is threatened by a hurricane, you should determine where you would be most protected from high winds and flooding. Listen to emergency officials and local news and weather reports to prepare.


If you lose power, one way to continue getting information is to use a Weather Radio. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides information called NOAA WEATHER RADIO ALL HAZARDS about the radio system. There is also a list of all frequencies in Mississippi named NWR County Coverage Listing.

Other things you can do to prepare are:

  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for signs such as heavy rain.
  • Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a County storm shelter.
    • The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.
  • Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place. Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations.
  • Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password‐protected digital copies.
  • Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters.
  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall. Before hurricane season, trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Consider building a FEMA Safe Room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high‐winds and in locations above flooding levels.
  • Review insurance policies.

Click the link to download the Home Inventory Checklist

You should evacuate if told to do so. If you are unable to evacuate and you’re under a hurricane warning, find safe shelter right away:

  • If sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room, ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor.
  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building.
  • Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.


What To Do When a Hurricane Is 6‐18 Hours from Arriving

  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
  • Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

Watch how to Prepare Your Home In One Hour

What To Do When a Hurricane Is 18‐36 Hours from Arriving

  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

Watch how to Prepare Your Home In One Day

What To Do When a Hurricane Is 36 Hours from Arriving

  • Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

Watch how to Prepare Your Home In a Weekend

After A Hurricane

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check‐in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast‐moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
  • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

Hurricane Katrina, a category 5, made landfall on August 29, 2005. After Katrina, insurance claims for property damage totaled $93.2 billion in 2011 dollars. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than 1,500 people died as a result of Katrina. For more information Click Here.

Mississippi Hurricane Wind Mitigation Program: 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.


There have been more tornado warnings issued in Mississippi than any other state in the nation. Historically, the National Weather Service reports an average of 30 Tornadoes each year, however in recent years that average has increased to about 45 per year.

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.

If you lose power, one way to continue getting information is to use a Weather Radio. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides information named NOAA WEATHER RADIO ALL HAZARDS about the radio system. There is also a list of all frequencies in Mississippi, NWR County Coverage Listing.

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.


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 a 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:


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.
  • 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 to determine if a contractor is properly licensed.

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.
  • If the rate seems too high, 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.


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!”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Fact: The human body doesn’t store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid.


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


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.


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.

Hail & Ice Storms

Hail and ice storms can shred agricultural crops, damage vehicles, homes, businesses and people. Hail often occurs during severe weather patterns, such as strong thunderstorms. The best thing you can do when severe weather threatens is tune in to a battery‐powered radio for updates.

As a storm approaches

  • Put vehicles in the garage and bring pets inside.
  • 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.
  • 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.

After a Hail Storm

Assess the damage

  • Check trees, shrubs and plants around your house. If they are stripped of their foliage, there is a possibility that your roof is damaged. You should also check for roof damage if patio covers, screens or soft aluminum roof vents are dented.
  • Check your car for dents and broken or cracked glass.

Protect your property from further damage

  • If you find signs that hail has battered your property, take immediate steps to protect it from further damage.
  • Cover any broken windows and holes in your roof so that no water can enter and damage your home’s interior.
  • Cover any broken glass in your car to prevent damage to the interior from rain and remove glass from the car’s interior to prevent cuts in upholstery and carpet.

File your claim

  • Call your agent or company as soon as you notice damage. Practically all homeowner’s policies cover hail damage. Your car will be covered if you’ve purchased comprehensive coverage.
  • If your agent or company requests you to do so, follow up your call with a written explanation of what happened.
  • Save receipts for what you spend and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.

Select a repair company

  • After an insurance adjuster has surveyed the hail damage to your property, select a reputable roofing company or auto body shop to make repairs.
  • Allow only the insurance adjuster and roofer you have selected to get up on your roof. Each time someone walks on it, more damage can occur.
  • Be wary of out‐of‐town roofers who move into an area and set up shop following a storm. While most of these firms are reputable, some have collected money from homeowners and moved on to the next storm site without paying suppliers or leaving work unfinished. This can leave homeowners holding the bag for those additional costs. It’s a good idea to select a company with established credibility and local references. Word of mouth is still your best guide.
  • Be sure roofers have workers compensation and liability insurance. If they don’t, you may be held liable if one of the workers is injured or if they damage a neighbor’s property.
  • Don’t make final payment to the roofing company until your roof has been inspected and you are satisfied.


Floods can result from rain, snow, coastal storms, storm surges, and overflows of dams and other water ways. They can come on quickly or slowly and flash floods can come on with no warning. Flooding is the most frequent and expensive natural disaster in the United States. Yet, flood peril is not typically covered through most homeowners and renter’s insurance policies. There are some private flood insurance insurers in Mississippi, but most policies are written by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program

The FEMA flood map service allows you to determine your flood risk. Risk levels are divided into three categories:

  • High-risk areas have at least a 1 percent chance of flooding each year. Homeowners in these areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to buy flood insurance.
  • Moderate to low-risk areas have less than a 1 percent chance of flooding each year, but there is still a possibility the area could flood. Flood coverage isn’t required in these areas, but it is recommended. Some mortgage lenders still require you to have flood insurance in non-high-risk areas.
  • Undetermined risk areas are areas where flood-hazard analysis has yet to be conducted, but risk still exists.

Pack a Go-Bag that includes:

  • Cash: If the power goes out, credit cards won’t work. Keep cash on hand for replenishing supplies.
  • Medications: Pharmacies might be closed and hospitals could be overwhelmed. Keep a backup supply (at least several days’ worth) of important medications like blood pressure medicine and insulin.
  • A Battery-Powered Weather Radio: If electricity is out and cell towers are down, this is your only way to know what’s happening.
  • A Gallon of Water for Every Family Member and Pet: Widespread power outages could make tap water unsafe to drink.
  • Important Documents: Social Security cards, passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses and more could all be lost or destroyed in a flood. Keep copies of these documents in a waterproof container. Include a copy of your flood insurance policy so that you can quickly file a claim once the danger has passed.
  • List of Shelters: In this time of social distancing, not all shelters are open. Be sure to make a list of shelters where you can retreat. If you have a pet, make sure they are pet friendly. Not all shelters welcome pets. Call ahead of time to make sure your shelter accepts pets.
  • A Change of Clothes: If you are away from your home for a few days, you will want to have a change of clothes. Since there is no COVID-19 vaccine available yet, don’t forget to pack a mask and hand sanitizer.

To learn about additional items you should include in your go-bag, visit the NAIC’s Go-Bag Resource.

How to Stay Safe When a Flood Threatens

Prepare now

  • Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information on flood risks in your area.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Learn and practice evacuation routes and shelter plans.
  • Gather supplies you might need if you have to leave home quickly. Keep in mind, you may need medication, pet food and crates, and extra batteries and chargers for mobile phones.
  • Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes 30 days for a policy to go into effect.
  • Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Make digital copies of those documents to upload and protect them with a password.

Staying safe during a flood

  • If you have time, go to a safe location.
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Don’t drive around barricades.
  • Listen to local alert systems to information and instructions.
  • Don’t walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
  • Stay off bridges over fast‐moving water. The water could wash away the bridge.
  • If your vehicle is trapped in fast‐moving water, stay inside the car. If water makes it into the vehicles, try to get on the roof.
  • If trapped in a building, go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic or you may become trapped.
  • Climb onto the roof of a building only if necessary and signal for help once there.

After a flood

  • Listen to authorities for information and return home only when authorities say it’s safe.
  • Avoid driving, except in emergencies.
  • Snakes and other animals may have come into your home or business during the flood.
    • Wear gloves and boots during cleanup.
  • Don’t touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you’re in standing water. If it’s safe, turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock.
  • Avoid wading in floodwater as it could be contaminated.
  • Only use a generator outdoors and away from windows.
  • File a flood insurance claim as soon as possible.

Questions about Flood Insurance

  • How do I find an agent in my area who sells flood insurance?

FloodSmart maintains a list of agents who sell flood insurance in each state. To access this list, click on this link: Flood Smart

  • Which insurance companies in Mississippi sell flood insurance?

FloodSmart maintains a list of companies participating in the NFIP by state. For Mississippi, click on this link: How to Buy Flood Insurance

  • How do I purchase flood insurance?

For complete instructions on purchasing flood insurance click on this link: How To Buy Flood Insurance

  • What would flooding cost me?

Visit and click on the interactive “Why Buy Flood Insurance?”

  • How do I file a flood insurance claim?

For complete instructions on filing a flood insurance claim click on this link: How to File A Claim

  • What if I have more questions regarding flood insurance?

You can call the Mississippi Insurance Department Consumer Division at: 1‐800‐562‐2957 or you may call 1‐800‐427‐4661 for general questions or 1‐800‐942‐4242 for help locating the insurance company who handles your flood insurance policy.


Unlike other disasters such as hurricanes, there are no seasons or warnings for earthquakes. They can happen almost anywhere at any time. Everyone, no matter, where they live should have a disaster recovery plan which includes securing the right type and amount of insurance.

A few simple steps can reduce property damage and help protect you and your family from disaster.

Prepare for an earthquake

Inside the House

  • Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to nearby walls.
  • Anchor large appliances, such as water heaters, to walls using straps.
  • Install ledge barriers on shelves; place heavy items on lower shelves.
  • Use closed screw‐eyes and wire to securely attach pictures and mirrors to the walls.
  • Attach computers and small appliances to desks, tables or countertops.
  • Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling.

The Structure of the House

If the structural elements of your home need reinforcing, you can consider investing in some of the most important and common retrofits:

  • Add anchor bolts or steel plates between your home and its foundation.
  • Brace the inside of your home’s cripple wall (the short wood‐stud wall between the top of the foundation wall and the first floor) with sheathing.
  • Brace unreinforced chimneys, masonry and concrete walls and foundations.

Protecting yourself and your family

  • Be sure that all family members know how to turn off utilities (gas, water and electricity) in an emergency.
  • Make sure every family member knows where safe spots are in each room, such as under sturdy tables or desks or in strong doorways.
  • Identify danger zones in each room, such as windows, bookshelves and furniture that may fall over and cause injuries.

Protecting your property

  • Check to see that your house has been properly “tied” to the foundation. Extensive damage is often done to homes that shift and slide on the foundation during an earthquake. A contractor can advise you about this and suggest whether lateral bracing of the house walls is necessary.
  • Be sure that water heaters and other gas appliances are properly bolted down or supported on the floor or wall.
  • Put the heavier, breakable items on lower shelves.
  • Search the ceiling and foundation for deep plaster cracks. Make the necessary repairs if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Make an inventory of your possessions and store it off the premises. If your belongings are damaged, this list will help facilitate the claim filing process.

Recovering from an Earthquake

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

  • First, check to be sure that no one in the family is injured. Start first aid immediately if injuries are found.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks which are normal following an earthquake.
  • Stay away from beach areas because of the danger of tsunamis (large seismic sea waves).

Protecting Your Property

  • Check utility lines and appliances for damage. If you smell gas, open the windows and turn off the main gas valve. Do not turn on electric lights or appliances until the gas has dissipated. They can cause sparks that might ignite the gas. If electric wires are shorting out, turn off the power.
  • Clean up flammable liquids inside buildings.
  • Check to see that sewage lines are intact and working before flushing toilets.
  • Check chimneys for cracks or other damage before using them.
  • Notify your insurance agent or company representative as soon as possible. If you have vacated the premises, make sure your representative knows where to contact you.
  • Take pictures of damaged property and keep notes. Use pictures and inventory lists to help your insurance agent and adjuster assess the damages.
  • Don’t be rushed into signing repair contracts. Deal with reputable contractors. If you’re unsure about a contractor’s credentials, contact your claims adjuster, Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for referrals. Make sure the contractor you hire is experienced in repair work ‐ not just new construction. Be sure of payment terms and consult your agent or adjuster before you sign any contracts.

Special Video – Protecting Your Home From an Earthquake

After the Storm

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.