Louisiana Department of Insurance Office of Consumer Advocay

Volume 2, Issue 5
MAY 2011

2011 Hurricane Preparedness Expo
5/3/2011
1201 Elmwood Park Blvd.
New Orleans, LA
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Jefferson Parish Hurricane Prep Rally
5/21/2011
Lafreniere Park
3000 Downs Blvd.
Metairie, LA
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

For speaking engagements scheduled after the release of the newsletter or for more detailed information about engagements listed in the newsletter, visit our web site at www.ldi.la.gov. Click on the Events tab found in the center of the home page.

To view previous newsletters, click on Consumer Advocacy under Consumers; then click on Consumer Advocacy Newsletters.

To find out if Consumer Advocacy will be in your area or to request a speaker for your organization or group, call (225) 219-0619 or e-mail
consumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov

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Hurricane Preparedness - Preparedness is Everyone's Responsibility

Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends November 30th each year. However, storms do occasionally make landfall earlier and later along the coast. The most active months for hurricanes in Louisiana are August and September. According to historical data listed on the noaa.gov and fema.gov Web sites, from 1992 to present, a total of seven tropical storms and seven hurricanes have struck the coast of Louisiana causing billions of dollars in damages. Now is a good time to review what you need to do to protect yourself and your family should a hurricane or tropical storm threaten the state.

Weather forecasters at Colorado State University are predicting an above-average hurricane season in 2011. Researchers predict 16 named storms in the Atlantic. Nine of those storms are expected to turn into hurricanes and five of them are expected to be category three or greater hurricanes. Forecasters say the combination of warm surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic combined with neutral surface temperatures in the Pacific will make for an active season.

According to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, preparations for this hurricane season began months ago. Steps they have taken include:

  • Working with coastal states on detailed commodity staging plans so that federal commodities delivered in support of state supplies are delivered to the most valuable pre-determined locations. States take ownership of federal commodities and are charged with distribution to individuals;
  • Replenishing stocks of critical response commodities and assets to support state response;
  • Working with other federal agencies to review and refine coordination of response activities.

Individual and family preparedness

  • There is no substitute for individual preparedness when it comes to your personal safety and that of your family. Small steps by those who are able to make preparations allows local first responders to assist those who are unable to make the needed preparations on their own. Individuals should pay careful attention to the advice of local authorities. When an evacuation is ordered and an individual who is capable self-evacuates, it allows authorities to devote resources where they are needed the most.
  • Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit and Family Emergency Plan:  Individuals and families should prepare emergency supply kits with food, water, medicine and battery operated radios. Families should also make emergency plans that include how and to where they would evacuate, shelter-in-place and communicate with one another. For more information on preparing for emergencies, visit Ready.gov.

Recommended items to include in an emergency supply kit:

  • Water - one gallon of drinking water per person per day for at least three days;
  • Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;
  • Battery-powered or hand cranked radio or a NOAA Weather Radio; extra batteries for both;
  • Flashlight and extra batteries;
  • First aid kit;
  • Whistle to signal for help;
  • Dust mask - to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place;
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;
  • Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food without pull tops);
  • Local maps;
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger;
  • Prescription medications and glasses;
  • Infant formula and diapers (if needed);
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet (if needed);
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container;
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change (coins);
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book;
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person;
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes;
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper - to be used as a disinfectant, or to treat water;
  • Fire extinguisher;
  • Matches in a waterproof container;
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items;
  • MREs, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels;
  • Paper and pencil;
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children.

State and Local Preparedness
State and local governments are closest to those affected by natural disasters and should always take the lead in response and recovery. The federal government acts in a supporting role, providing assistance, logistical support and certain supplies.  

  • Local government provides for the safety and security of citizens in advance of a hurricane. They develop emergency plans, determine evacuation routes, provide public transportation for those who can’t self-evacuate and set up and stock local shelters with relief supplies.
  • State government mobilizes the National Guard, pre-positions certain assets and supplies and sets up the state’s emergency management functions. They also request federal support through the formal disaster declaration process. Louisiana’s state government provides great tips on preparing for hurricanes through the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Visit the “Get a Game Plan” Web site at www.getagameplan.org.

Federal Preparedness
The federal government is responsible for meeting requests from the state before, during and after a disaster. This includes:

  • providing logistical support for search and rescue;
  • providing food, water and ice;
  • establishing disaster centers and processing federal disaster claims;
  • participating in short and long-term public works projects, such as debris removal and infrastructure rebuilding.

Stay or Leave
Coastal residents may need to make a decision regarding evacuation. If local officials recommend that you evacuate, do so immediately. Try to use the routes local officials recommend. These routes will often be patrolled more frequently, meaning help will reach you sooner if you get into trouble.
Evacuation does not necessarily mean fleeing hundreds of miles. Ideally, traveling to the nearest shelter which provides protection from winds in an area that is not subject to flooding or to be isolated by a flood, is best.

  • Know the quickest route to the nearest storm shelter;
  • If possible you may wish to make prior arrangements with family or friends;
  • If you live in a mobile or modular home, plan to leave;
  • Realize that you will not be the only one heading inland and allow extra time for travel;
  • Be ready to leave on short notice;
  • Be sure to have pictures or at the very least, make a home inventory list using serial numbers and a description of items in your house for insurance purposes. Take a copy of your insurance policy and home inventory list with you. The new iPhone application, myHOME Scr.APP.book, from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners can make it easy to create a home inventory list.

Boat Owners and Marina Operators
Boating communities almost always suffer large losses when a hurricane comes ashore. The boat owner, in particular, must stay abreast of the latest forecasts and positions of tropical storms and hurricanes and be ready to act long before the storm makes its final approach.

  • Boat owners should have all the necessary gear on board for properly securing their vessel at the start of the boating season. Precious time will be lost if you are rushing around searching for gear when a storm is approaching;
  • Realize that you may not be able to pull your boat out of the water. Your only alternative will be to properly tie your boat down. Practice these procedures at the start of the season;
  • If your boat is kept at a marina, have a plan worked out with the marina operator so there are no questions or any confusion when the time comes to tie up or pull the boat out of the water;
  • Be sure to remove any non-essential items and have pictures and a written description of the vessel for insurance purposes.

Storm Deductibles

As hurricane season makes its way, it is important to review our insurance policies and pay close attention to the deductibles, the amount of loss that an insured pays in a claim.  Deductibles and exclusions have a major effect on how an insurance company will compensate an insured for a loss.  Many times propery owners recognize these limitations for the first time when filing a claim, and the losses are already piling up. It is better to be informed about deductibles before a storm hits.
Louisiana has three deductibles that could apply to a homeowners' policy.

  • Hurricane
  • Named storm
  • Windstorm and hail

There are various differences between a named storm and a hurricane. According to the National Hurricane Center, one of the differences is the wind speed.  A storm is named when it reaches tropical storm strength with winds of 39 mph and becomes a hurricane or typhoon when its wind speed reaches 74 mph.  During the 2009 Louisiana Legislative Session, Act 134 was signed into law which implemented changes concerning separate deductibles.  Homeowners insurance policies or other polices insuring one or two family owner occupied premises for fire and allied lines will only be responsible for one separate named-storm or hurricane deductible during a calendar year.
  
Check with your insurance producer or insurance company to determine which storm deductible applies to your insurance policy.  Deductible changes may be added to policies at renewal. You should receive written notification of any modification to your policy from your insurance company.

EDITOR’S LETTER

2011 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday
Begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, 2011 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

Louisiana Revised Statute 47:305.58 provides for an annual state sales tax holiday on sales of hurricane-preparedness items or supplies made on the last Saturday and Sunday of each May. During the two-day annual holiday, tax-free purchases are authorized on the first $1,500 of the sales price of each of the following items:

  • portable self-powered light source;
  • portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio;
  • tarpaulin or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
  • any ground anchor system or tie-down kit;
  • any gas or diesel fuel tank;
  • any package of AAA-cell, AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries, excluding automobile and boat batteries;
  • any cellular phone battery and any cellular phone charger;
  • any non-electric food storage cooler;
  • any portable generator used to provide light or communications or preserve food in the event of a power outage;
  • any “storm shutter device,” as defined in the Act;
  • any carbon monoxide detector; and
  • any blue ice product.

The sales tax holiday does not extend to hurricane-preparedness items or supplies purchased at any airport, public lodging establishment or hotel, convenience store, or entertainment complex.   For more details, a list of exemptions and special provisions click here or call the Louisiana Department of Revenue at (225) 219-0102.

(source Louisiana Department of Revenue)

Deputy Commissioner
Clarissa A. Preston, CIC, APIR

 

 

Office of Consumer AdvocacyP.O. Box 94214Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9214
(225) 219-0619 or (800)259-5300www.ldi.la.govconsumeradvocacy@ldi.la.gov