Know Your Risk: Don’t Be Caught Unprepared This Hurricane Season

PreparednessCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PENNSYLVANIA — September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department are encouraging citizens to take steps to prepare for emergencies and ensure that their homes, businesses, and possessions are adequately insured.

“We all have a role to play in getting our families ready for emergencies, because the more prepared we are, the less strain we see on local emergency responders and the more quickly our communities can recover,” said PEMA Director Randy Padfield.

September is also when Pennsylvania experiences a higher risk of flooding due to hurricane and tropical storm activity in the Northeast this time of year.

“The recent flooding in Kentucky is a sobering example of how quickly disasters bring a stark reminder of the difference between life and death, and how overwhelming and long the recovery process can be,” Padfield said. “Communities that were devastated by the remnants of Hurricane Ida last year are still recovering from horrific flooding and the destruction it left behind.”

PEMA is encouraging citizens to get involved and take additional steps to prepare for this and all emergencies by participating in September’s Ready, Set, and Check! event as part of NPM.

Acting Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys is urging homeowners to prepare for potential storm events by purchasing flood insurance to cover their homes and businesses. Most standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies do not cover damages caused by flooding.

“All too often, we hear from people who have experienced the pain of significant storm damage only to realize that their flooded homes and possessions were not covered under their homeowners’ insurance,” said Humphreys. “Where it rains, it can flood – but there are far too few homes insured for flooding in Pennsylvania. We urge to you review your coverage to make sure you are financially protected from storm damage, consider purchasing flood insurance, and mitigate the risk to your family and your home.”

Flood insurance policies can be purchased through both the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the rapidly growing private market, regardless of whether you live in a designated flood zone.

This year’s theme for NPM is, “A Lasting Legacy. The life you’ve built is worth protecting. Prepare for disasters to create a lasting legacy for you and your family.” The goal of NPM is to increase the overall number of individuals, families, and communities that engage in preparedness actions at home, work, businesses, school, and places of worship.

“The idea of proactively preparing for emergencies can seem overwhelming,” Padfield said. “But if we recognize possible threats early and prepare as best we can, even a small amount of preparation can make a big difference in how we react to and recover from an emergency.”

Anyone who wants to participate can register to get simple – yet important – steps to get started and track progress with the Ready, Set and Check! card. At the end of the month, participants will have the opportunity to fill out a brief survey about their experience and be entered into a random drawing to win a Ready PA Preparedness Starter Kit.

Padfield said there are simple, low or no-cost steps you can take now to prepare for emergencies and protect everyone you love:

  • Create a family emergency plan so loved ones know who to contact and where to go in an emergency;
  • Sign up for weather alerts;
  • Know how to safely turn off utilities in and around your home; and
  • Sign up for the Ready PA monthly newsletter for additional preparedness tips throughout the year.

Resources for purchasing flood insurance are available on the Insurance Department’s one-stop Flood Insurance page. The Department also has resources on what do following a storm that causes flooding and damages, including the After the Storm brochure, which can guide the property owner through filing insurance claims and tips to avoid repair scams, and information on Public Adjusters.

The Insurance Department will be hosting a roadshow throughout September in honor of National Preparedness Month with educational events across the commonwealth to highlight the importance of purchasing flood insurance and navigating the aftermath of severe-weather flooding events.

More information about how to prepare for an emergency, including specific information for people with access and functional needs or pets, is available on the Ready PA website.

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