Hurricane Dorian and it’s effects on waterfront homes in Florida

Waterfront properties are generally more expensive to buy and require a lot more maintenance than your usual vacation home, which means extra money on top of the buying price. That is being proved correct with the latest hurricane Dorian about to hit Florida. And while waterfront homes, especially coastal properties, were once considered a solid investment, experts today say that newer homes are more likely to keep their value. Prices on older homes have softened somewhat in recent years because of rising sea levels caused by climate change.

Hurricane Dorian is a massive Category 5 hurricane Monday morning with sustained winds of 165 mph as it continues to batter the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean. Dorian, which came ashore on Elbow Cay of the Abaco Islands, is tied for the strongest Atlantic hurricane landfall on record, along with a hurricane on Labor Day in 1935 that struck the Florida Keys and moved up along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Residents of the Bahamas who rode out Hurricane Dorian as a Category 5 storm described buzz-saw-like winds that splintered homes, flooded streets and left them terrified for their lives. In Bahamas, there’s houses that are torn apart. There’s tree limbs in the road. There’s no green shrubbery left. It’s just shredded. It looks like a bomb went out.

Floridians are bracing for impact, stocking up on water and grabbing plywood to board up their homes and homeowners that are waterfront on specific areas of the coast were actually ordered to evacuate. Hurricane and storm-surge watches have been issued for Florida’s east coast, from Deerfield Beach to the Brevard-Volusia County line, where the water could reach up to 7 feet, forecasters say.

Storm-surge watches are issued when there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours.

Huracan Dorian 2019 trayectoria
The trajectory of the Hurricane Dorian in September 2nd 2019.

 

Waterfront property might seem like the ultimate luxury, an asset to pass down for generations to enjoy but climate change experts disagree. As an article on Business Insider illustrates.

Dorian’s impact on waterfront homes on the east coast of the US

The storm was projected to reach Florida by Labor Day weekend, but current forecasts have it turning north Monday evening. The storm is predicted to ride along the Florida, Georgia and Carolina coasts, according to meteorologists.
Many models show the storm staying just off Florida’s coast Tuesday and then skirting the coasts of Georgia and North and South Carolina. Still, a major hurricane hovering just off the coast could cause serious damage. Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for residents living in mobile homes or in low-lying areas of Palm Beach, Martin, Brevard and St. Lucie counties, officials said.
The Palm Beach and Martin county evacuations began at 1 p.m. Sunday, and the Brevard and St. Lucie county evacuations are set to start Monday morning.

Other than the winds from this hurricane, another issue for waterfront homes are the water surges. Hurricane and storm-surge watches have been issued for Florida’s east coast, from Deerfield Beach to the Brevard-Volusia County line, where the water could reach up to 7 feet, forecasters say. Storm-surge watches are issued when “there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours,” the center said.

With wind and rain possible without direct landfall, many Florida residents are still preparing and Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced voluntary evacuations for Osceola County, Glades, Hendry and Indian River counties, as well as in parts of Palm Beach County that are not under mandatory evacuation orders. Other than that, Florida is right now on king tide season meaning that the highest tides are way higher than normal.

Dorian has the potential to put millions of people at risk, along with holiday attractions such as Walt Disney World, the NASA launchpads along the Space Coast, and even President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. So be ready with the following information in case you need:

  • Your insurance company
  • Your flood insurance company
  • FPL or your local electricity emergency line
Beachfront in the Bahamas right after Hurricane Dorian.
Beachfront in the Bahamas right after Hurricane Dorian.

How homeowners can prepare for a possible water surge from the hurricane

As Hurricane Dorian continues its track toward Florida, some homeowners are making sure they get their trees trimmed to prevent possible damage to their homes.That helps avoid lose limbs flying directly into your house. But Insurance industry experts say there are a number of other things homeowners need to consider when the time comes to assess the material damage in the wake of a major hurricane.

When it’s safe to do so, make any temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your home or property. That could be something as simple as putting a tarp over a hole in the roof or plywood over a broken window.

It’s important to document as much as possible to ease your claim process, so take photos or videos of damage and save all receipts for supplies purchased for repairs.

Try to get the claims process started as quickly as possible by contacting your insurance company, although many insurers will reach out to affected policyholders directly. Most major insurers send disaster teams to the affected area to start the process in person, but claims can also begin on the phone or online.

The limitations depend on your policy but many homeowners’ policies typically help cover costs beyond just damage to a structure or belongings. Ask your insurance representative about help paying for the costs of evacuation, temporary housing if your home is uninhabitable or damage to a structure caused by fallen trees or flying debris.

Additionally, if you are worried about lost wages because of missed days at work, talk to your employer. Many businesses have insurance policies that include a provision called “ordinary payroll” that allows them to pay employees for a set number of days when they are forced to miss work due to mandatory evacuation.

Flooding is the No. 1 disaster threat. One of the last things you want to deal with when your home is damaged is not knowing where your important records are. Make sure records such as your insurance policies, title to your car, birth certificate and the like are safely stowed in a fire- and flood-proof lock box or similar option (i.e., a safe deposit box at a bank).

While most homeowners’ policies cover wind damage, they generally exclude flood damage. Yet floods are often what cause the most destruction. For coverage, you’d need flood insurance through either the federal National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. Be aware, however, that there are coverage exclusions and limitations.

Homes destroyed by the wind after Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
Homes destroyed by the wind after Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas

Homeowners, condo and renter’s insurance cover damage sustained from most perils, including tornado, hurricanes, severe storms, rain, wind and fires. Homeowners insurance will pay to repair the structure of the property up to the insured amount and other detached structures like a garage or garden shed – typically around 10% of the main structure’s insured amount.

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