If you have lived around here for a while, you might recall the devastation caused by the unexpected turn of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Information we have through our network of insurance related news sources shows that Hurricane Hugo was the most costly hurricane ever to hit the United States. It first made landfall in South Carolina, causing $4.2 billion in insured damage along the coastline. According to our sources, (InsuranceJournal.com) the total insured property along South Carolina’s coast has grown to more than $200 billion. The article stating these figures applies that 4.2 billion figure to just the SC coastline, and does not include the expense of damage to the inland areas of North Carolina.
The surprise of Hugo was the inland force this hurricane had. It reached Charlotte with hurricane force winds still intact. For Charlotte-area natives, we will never forget the shock and dismay of assessing the damage. According to a recent article in the Charlotte Observer, Hugo killed 27 people in South Carolina and seven in North Carolina. The article, referencing that hurricane that hit our state near three decades ago, states that the storm caused a total of $8 billion to $10 billion in damage in 1989 dollars, making it the most costly storm to that time.
Could Hurricane Irma Reach Charlotte?
The question is, Could Irma reach inland as Hugo did? Yesterday Bruce Henderson of the Charlotte Observer published an article on this topic.
Henderson states that there is a potential for Hurricane Irma to move along the same track that Hugo did in ’89. One thing forecasters learned with Hugo is that nature runs its own course – and it is impossible to predict the exact movements and route of a natural disaster.
At Waxhaw Insurance Agency, we are compelled to share this uncertain reality and also the facts about how much money goes into repairing and rebuilding after a destructive storm. We hope this knowledge does not alarm our customers, but prepare you. The shock and unpreparedness worsened the effect of Hugo. People did not realize a hurricane could bring its forces so far inland. Knowing what we know, we can get prepared, and at least be aware that we are not immune to a potential disaster.
How To Prepare and Be Cautious During This Time
On the coast, folks board up windows and attempt to take ‘hurricane-proofing’ measures to soften the blow and damage a storm can cause. This effort is much appreciated by the insurance companies who will handle the claims after a storm. Anything that can be done to lessen the expense and damage to a building is worth the effort. Many homes along the coast are designed to withstand a storm, even equipped with shutters or materials designed to endure the forces. Boarding up the windows on your home is probably taking it too far, however there are a few ways you can prepare for a potential hurricane. We found some tips here: https://www.ready.gov/
Preparing Your Home
A few things you could do over the weekend just in case:
- Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so 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.
We hope at the end of next week that we and our neighbors will breathe a sigh of relief that our area was outside of Irma’s path. Be prepared and knowing what could potentially occur. If you are a Waxhaw Insurance Agency customer and have any questions or concerns before or after the storm, feel free to call our office and know that we get a lot of calls during times like this, so we appreciate your patience! Feel free to use the form on our contact page to submit questions and we will get back in touch with you.