A little over a week ago, on August 26th, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm. While the hurricane decreased in intensity rather quickly, the devastation it caused was tremendous. Winds that reached 130mph in some parts and heavy rains over the course of several days led to catastrophic flooding and widespread destruction in Houston and surrounding areas. With losses predicted to be in the billions and rebuilding efforts yet to begin, there is a lot to take in and learn from Harvey.

For those covered by standard homeowners or hurricane insurance, damages caused by high winds will more than likely be covered.  As far as damages caused by flooding, only those who have a flood insurance policy are covered from damages sustained to their homes or properties. With only an estimated 15-20% of residents in the Houston area being covered by a flood insurance policy, rebuilding is going to be an extremely difficult, costly task for many. This is yet another reminder to us in South Florida of the importance of a flood insurance policy.

The biggest takeaway from Hurricane Harvey? Heed the warnings and take time to prepare. Have an evacuation plan in place complete with routes, shelter locations, and a supply kit in case you are ordered to evacuate. If you are staying put, prepare your home with shutters, sandbags and whatever else is necessary. Make sure to have enough water, food, and emergency supplies to last at least 72 hours. Pay close attention to weather warnings, and information from state and local officials. Www.ready.gov is a great source of information for preparing for hurricanes and other potential disasters. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the warnings either before or after a hurricane; this could make all the difference in how you and your family are impacted.

All material things; houses, cars, furniture, can eventually be replaced. The only thing that cannot be replaced is your life and that of your family and loved ones. If Hurricane Harvey has taught us anything it is the importance of preparedness and of community; giving each other a hand when it is needed. A category 4 hurricane such as Harvey could have led to many more casualties had it not been for the warnings from meteorologists and government officials, the quick response from emergency crews and first responders, and most of all the readiness and kindness of everyday people, the community of Texas and all those who without hesitation offered help in one way or another.