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At peak of hurricane season, it's important to stay prepared

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 26, 2010 at 3:26 a.m.

Hanna Mark

For hurricane preparedness, visit insurancecouncil.org or http://www.greathurricaneblowout.org.

Summer is over, and a new school year is under way, but Texas isn't in the clear from hurricanes just yet.

The 2010 hurricane season just reached its peak, and it pays to take precautions.

Two-thirds of all hurricanes take place after Aug. 23, while half take place after Sept. 8, said Jason Runyen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi.

"Now is a good time to really take a look and make sure you're ready in case a storm would hit," Runyen said.

It's important to make sure insurance is in order before a storm even enters the Gulf, said Mark Hanna, manager of public relations and membership for the Insurance Council of Texas.

Hanna suggested people pull out their policies to determine what sort of coverage they have, what their agent's name is and how to contact them if necessary.

"People need to realize there is no such thing as a hurricane policy," Hanna said, explaining people need a homeowners policy, flood insurance and wind damage coverage.

A simple - and free - call to the agent can answer questions such as whether a person has adequate coverage, he said.

"Do it now, when the guy is not going to be inundated with calls," Hanna said. "Before a storm enters the Gulf."

A video inventory of items inside the home also helps, said Amelia Taurel Folkes, community and media specialist for State Farm Insurance.

Go through drawers and rooms, narrating the items inside the home such as heirlooms, electronics and the like, and create a list of those items, she suggested. Keep that list somewhere safe away from the home.

If a storm hits, people panic, Hanna explained, and won't remember everything missing from their home.

"You'll be remembering things for the rest of your life that you realize are missing," he said.

Insurance issues aren't the only things to consider when it comes to storms.

Folkes urged people to consider whether they plan to evacuate during a hurricane and what they'll do with their pets. It's also important to keep necessary items, such as a store of food, medications and plastic bags on hand.

The Crossroads region didn't suffer major storms in 2009, but that doesn't mean it can't happen this year, Hanna said.

"It just takes one," he said. "We need to be prepared."

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