Harvey's Winds, Rain and Storm Surge Could Cause Record Damages and Flooding
Hurricane Harvey's forecasted slow march through south Texas could result in record rainfall and insured losses. Harvey is expected to make landfall near Corpus Christi, which hasn't seen a hurricane in 47 years.
Harvey is the first Category 3 hurricane to hit the Texas coast since 1970 when Corpus Christi was struck by Hurricane Celia, which had 130 mile per hour winds causing $453 million in insured losses. The costliest storm to ever hit Texas was the last hurricane to make landfall, Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008, near Galveston. Insured losses from Ike were estimated at $12 billion.
"We can only hope that 47 years of growth in and around Corpus Christi can withstand Cat 3 winds and a storm surge that most of the city’s residents have never seen,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas. “Besides the wind damage, the storm is also expected to cause major flooding along the coast and other parts of Texas. This is why we remind Texas residents that flood insurance can be very valuable for persons living outside flood zones.”
Corpus Christi city officials have called for a voluntary evacuation for its residents. Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for the nearby residents of Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Rockport, Ingleside, Taft, Sinton, Portland and Gregory.
Coastal residents along the upper Texas coast toward Houston have been evacuating and traveling inland toward central and north Texas. Major thoroughfares such as Interstates 35 and 45 are receiving heavy traffic in the hours leading up to Harvey’s landfall.
Weather forecasters expect Hurricane Harvey to stall at some point upon making landfall and possibly reverse its path toward the gulf. This unusual weather event is expected to result in massive rainfall that could exceed two feet in some locations.
“We urge Texans to get to a safe location before the storm hits and hopefully avoid unnecessary travel until the rains and winds subside,” said Hanna. “Most of the deaths from hurricanes result from drowning.”
With the anticipated heavy rains extending over the next few days, flood insurance will play a critical role in the post-storm recovery. While flood insurance takes care of homes and businesses, comprehensive insurance coverage provides flood protection for your vehicles. Comprehensive coverage is optional so check your policy to make sure you have the coverage in place.
“If your car or truck has been submerged in flood waters, drivers shouldn’t try and start the vehicle,” Hanna said. “Starting a vehicle that has been under water may cause more damage and result in the vehicle becoming totaled.”
Hanna also warned about towing your vehicle. “If your vehicle is flooded and needs to be towed by a wrecker service, use caution and understand any documents that require your signature. Those documents may include requests to authorize additional services that may not be necessary and could add unnecessary costs to your claim,” Hanna advised.
Most importantly, if you are driving and come across a flooded road, don’t try to drive through the water. Turn around and choose a different route. It only takes six inches of water to cause a car to lose traction.
Regardless of whether you have wind damage or a flood claim, consumers are urged to contact their insurance agent as soon as possible. Residents with flood damage should remove all wet carpet and furniture and utilize water vacuums and fans to dry saturated floors as soon as possible to avoid mold and mildew. All of the damage should be documented and photographed for use in settling the claim. If assistance is needed, try and secure the services of reputable remediation services.
To assist with windstorm claims involving the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) which provides windstorm coverage for many residents along the Texas coast, contact TWIA at 1-800-788-8247.
To assist with flood claims, which are administered under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you should contact your insurer or agent, or for more information on flood insurance and how to file a claim contact www.FloodSmart.gov.