While hurricane season may have officially kicked off June 1, the Insurance Council of Texas is warning gulf coast residents that some of the strongest and most damaging storms struck after August.
“We are concerned about the safety of every Texan during hurricane season,” said Mark Hanna, an ICT spokesman, in an Aug. 17 press release.
“Even if a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico is only a ‘Category two’ coastal residents should still make sure they’re prepared to protect their property and evacuate if needed. Texas homeowners and businesses who have been through a hurricane can tell you how devastating the storms can be.”
A “Cat two” refers to the category strength of a hurricane with winds ranging from 96 to 110 mph. Hurricanes are categorized on a scale from one to five, with five being the strongest. The category strength of a storm, however, makes no reference to the hurricane’s storm surge or rainfall amounts.
The last major storm to strike Texas, Hurricane Ike in 2008, was a “Cat two” hurricane, and it claimed more than 100 lives and completely wiped 3,000 homes and businesses off the Bolivar Peninsula, according to the press release.
Hurricane Ike knocked out power for more than a week to hundreds of thousands of residents living in the area. Afterwards, city officials in Galveston would not allow evacuees to return to their homes for more than a week because of the putrid conditions from floodwaters that had created a health hazard.
Despite the damage caused by Hurricane Ike, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did not list it as a major hurricane, even though it was by far the costliest storm to ever hit Texas.
A hurricane must be a “Cat three” or stronger to be listed as a major hurricane.
To adequately prepare for the onslaught of a hurricane, ICT recommends that coastal residents and businesses have an evacuation plan and make sure their insurance is up to date.
A person cannot buy a windstorm policy if a named storm is already in the Gulf of Mexico. And, there is a 30-day waiting period before a flood insurance policy goes into effect.
ICT is the largest state insurance trade association in the country consisting of approximately 500 property and casualty insurers writing business in Texas.