Experts Say Catastrophic Gulf Hurricane on Horizon – Businesses May Not be Prepared

On average, two major hurricanes hit the Gulf or Atlantic coasts every three years. Yet the U.S. hasn’t been hit by a major hurricane in more than ten years – the longest streak since record keeping began in 1851.

Experts are chalking it up to luck, and some say that lull has led to complacency. Texans know that even a lesser storm can cause major damage. Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston in 2008. That storm changed course at the last minute, avoiding much worse damage in Houston. Since then, the risk hasn’t subsided, and 2016 could be the year the lull ends and luck runs out. The Texas Tribune recently created an animated graphic showing what the result would have been if 2008’s hurricane Ike had landed 30 miles to the Southwest.

That report concludes Houston’s “perfect storm” is coming and the chances are 2,400 times more likely than being struck by lightning. Moreover, this year El Niño, which typically plays a role in suppressing hurricanes, is expected to weaken significantly or disappear by the start of the hurricane season.

Businesses need to be prepared. Estimates put the number of small businesses that don’t reopen after a hurricane at as much as 40 percent. “Businesses in Gulf Coast communities need to prepare by protecting property, protecting information and making sure they have the proper coverage,” says Chris Barnes, senior vice president at Dallas-based LevelFirst. “The threat is real.”

Barnes says mitigating property damage can include investments in plywood, having the roof inspected and shutting off utilities prior to a hurricane making landfall. It’s vital to back up documents, save legal contracts and store copies in an off-site location. Having wind coverage with a proper valuation is also key. “It will be difficult for a business without wind coverage to reopen after a hurricane,” Barnes says. “Business owners also need to make sure they are insured to value.”

Barnes says many of the businesses that don’t reopen are without insurance or are underinsured. “If you have a business with a $1 million value and are only insured for $500,000, you’re not going to reopen unless you can come up with $500,000. That’s going to be a barrier to recovery.”

LevelFirst offers Wind/Hail-only and Property All Risk along with Earthquake and Flood coverage to commercial properties in the coastal regions of the Gulf. For more information, call Chris Barnes at 512-279-4708. Go here for complete information on preparing businesses for a hurricane.