Gearing Up For Hurricane Season

Agents say when Rita hit East Texas three years ago, it caught many by surprise.

So this hurricane season, and every one since Rita, local insurance agents have tried to prepare customers before damage occurs.

"As an agent we don't do a whole lot for it, except to let our customers know that it is approaching," says Lumbermen Agent John Porter.

He says damage can come from two main sources in severe weather.

"One of the things everybody seems to forget is in hurricane season, as much damage is done by water as the wind.  And flood insurance is extremely important," says Porter.

And the Red Cross is gearing up too.

"Our primary responsibility at this time is to make sure our shelters are ready to go and that they can take care of evacuees for 5-7 days on their own," says Jeani Miles, who is with the Red Cross.

She says they are ready to assist not only evacuees, but residents here, if a hurricane comes our way.

"We're in much better shape this time and better prepared to be able to shelter both (evacuees and residents) if we need to," says Miles.

If severe weather does come, agents say get ready to be patient.  Sometimes claims can take a while.

"It's dictated by the number of claims and the availability to do the repair work.  Claims generally have to be handled in 180 days, but with a catastrophe, that's usually extended," says Porter.

And experts agree residents can be ready too.

"Make sure they know who their agent is, that number to call, the insurance company and that number, plus have provisions to take care of themselves for that period of time," says Porter.

Miles says, "Be Red Cross ready for the hurricane season. Have a kit, a plan and be informed."