From the editor: Saturday marks the start of hurricane season

Published 1:02 pm Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dawn Burleigh, Editor

While hurricane season can send chills down one’s spine, especially while so many are still recovering from Harvey, it is once again, the days before the season begins.

Living in Southeast Texas, it is easy to remember the season runs from June 1 – November 30.

Before a storm is spotted coming off of Africa or breaching the Gulf of Mexico, let us take some time to prepare for the worse and pray for the best now.

Flooding can cause considerable distress, uproot families and damage structures. But even people who live in flood zones can take steps to be food-safe.

  • Purchase flood insurance. Many people and properties are not covered for flooding under standard homeowners insurance policies. As a result, it is essential to purchase separate flood insurance. The home improvement and information site HouseLogic says that flood insurance may be required by mortgage companies for those financing homes in flood plains. Allstate has programs such as Allstate’s Digital Locker, located within the Allstate Mobile app, to help you create a home inventory of your belongings. Ensure your insurance coverage reflects the current condition of your home. If you’ve done anything that increases the value of your home or its contents, like building an addition or remodeling, you should immediately talk with your insurance agent to decide if your current insurance is sufficient.

Following Hurricane Harvey, FEMA reported 80% of Harvey victims did not have flood insurance. Most homeowners policies do not usually cover flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the primary source for flood insurance in the United States. You can go to their website at or contact your insurance provider for more information. NOTE: There is often a 30-day waiting period after you buy a flood insurance policy before flood coverage takes effect.

  • Have a “go bag” ready. This is a great idea in preparation for any type of emergency situation. Go bags can include a few changes of clothes, important documents and phone numbers, essential toiletries, extra cash, and non-perishable foods. You may want to stock go bags with flashlights, batteries and waterproof shoes as well. Evacuate if a flood is predicted to be severe.
  • Know your flood level. Check flood maps at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website ( or your local building department. This will help you know just how high the water might rise in certain scenarios so you can plan accordingly.
  • Safeguard key home systems. Protect sockets, switches, breakers, and wiring in a home by placing them at least one foot above the expected flood level in your area, offers the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Move the furnace, water heater, and any other key appliances so they sit above the property’s flood level.
  • Vent the water. Foundation vents, sump pumps, drains, and more can help keep water from accumulating in or around the foundation of a home.
  • Consider a grading change. The grading or slope of ground can be adjusted to direct water away from your home.  If your street is prone to standing water after ordinary rainstorms, talk to your county planning or environmental services department about potential modifications.
  • Prepare for the worst. Home piers or columns can lift the lowest floor of a home above flood level. It’s an expensive undertaking but can be worth it in high-flood areas.

Flooding is no joke. Homeowners can safeguard their homes with some protective steps.

National Weather Service suggests “the time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins when you have the time and are not under pressure. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions. Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. You don’t want to be standing in long lines when a hurricane warning is issued. Those supplies that you need will probably be sold out by the time you reach the front of the line. Being prepared, before a hurricane threatens, makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water. It will mean the difference between your being a hurricane victim and a hurricane survivor.”


Dawn Burleigh is the editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at