Significant inland wind damage from Gustav and Ike

I ran across two articles in the Insurance Journal that provide some additional insight on non-coastal areas that would benefit from expanding the National Flood Insurance Program to cover wind damage as well as flooding. Given my position the need is inland as well as coastal, the stories on wind damage from Hurricane Gustav in Alexandria, Louisiana and Hurricane Ike in Kentucky caught my eye.

Alexandria is about 150 miles from Morgan City and both are easy to spot on this map of Louisiana.

Officials say Hurricane Gustav inflicted more than $25 million worth of damage in Alexandria, La., when it blew through in early September.

The estimate exceeding more than $25 million does not include damage from wind and falling trees to individual homes nor does it include individuals’ costs related to power outages. (emphasis added)

About half of that amount came from estimated damage caused by roof collapses at the Alexandria Mall during Gustav…

Rebecca Mowbray’s story in the Times Picayune provides information that support for the NFIP expansion – information in quotes from Commissioner Donelon! Continue reading “Significant inland wind damage from Gustav and Ike”

So, will claims handling really be different with Gustav and Ike?

Yesterday, we were getting comments that caused me to suggest some might find it helpful to read Chip Merlin’s September blog posts.  As an afterthought, I decided to make another visit myself.

I’m a big fan of Merlin’s and have read most, maybe all, of the posts on the blog. Nonetheless, although I understood and generally agreed with most everything in the post he’d added since my last visit, I’m not certain I got the message in State Farm Gears Up for Ike.

All of the companies with policy holders in the areas hit by Gustav and Ike appear to have geared up.  Allstate was actually the first to go public with an announcement they were ready and State Farm followed.  I wrote a post on the subject at the time.

Last night I found an interesting article from the Palm Beach Press indicating the gear up also included Hanna: Past failures spur insurance changes.

The current storm season is turning out to be the most active in terms of landfall since eight storms slammed into the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2005. But major homeowner insurers say they are ready to respond quickly to damage claims, a result of learning some tough lessons in those years.

The goal: Pay policyholders faster so that they can fix up their homes.

Indeed, four of the top five Florida insurers – Citizens Property Insurance Corp., State Farm, Allstate and USAA – say they are, among other things:

  • Expanding the use of mobile satellite vans that can process claims from affected areas wirelessly.
  • Switching from paper to electronic files.
  • Using the Internet to reach customers with damage.
  • Adding to the number of claims adjusters on call.
  • It’s all to be more responsive, the insurers say. As a group they came out of the busy 2004 and 2005 storm seasons with a collective black eye on claims handling. From customers of the five largest insurers alone, state regulators received more than 10,000 claims-related complaints after the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes…

    Still, there is no guarantee that homeowners won’t have problems.

    Paying policy holders faster, according to Merlin’s post, is a cost saving measure for insurers. Continue reading “So, will claims handling really be different with Gustav and Ike?”

    Watch wind suction in action

    I had this video clip linked the other day and when the link broke, I replaced it with another – but found it just now and thought everyone would want to take a look.  Pay particular attention to the wind sucking the roof off near the end of the clip.  You can see the result in the video linked here (I hope).

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    more about “Raw Video: Gustav Damage in Houma, Lo…“, posted with vodpod

    Julia Reed on NOLA's disaster response

    I borrowed Julia Reed’s update on post Gustav NOLA from the Ladder – great catch Editilla and you’re right about the title.  Dodging the bullet is distateful as both a title and an attitude considering the magnitude of the damage elsewhere in Louisiana – most of it covered by the news about what didn’t happen in New Orleans.

    Reed, as usual, dishes up more of her excellent writing and, once again, reminds us that in NOLA there’s not just the southern tradition of funeral food but disaster food as well – and her take on Nagin alone makes this article a must read.

    Three years ago, in preparation for Hurricane Katrina, Bob Rue, owner of The Sarouk Shop, an Oriental rug emporium on New Orleans‘s grand St. Charles Avenue, boarded up his windows with plywood and painted on a warning: “Don’t Even Try. I am Sleeping Inside with a Big Dog, an Ugly Woman, Two Shotguns and a Claw Hammer.” It worked. Almost every business lining the Avenue, from Smoothie King to the Please-U Restaurant, was trashed and looted-except for those within viewing distance of Rue’s sign. Continue reading “Julia Reed on NOLA's disaster response”

    Gustav damage – Houma, La. and the barrier islands

    I was starting this post when the McIntosh news came in and thought I’d pulled it – but just as I was heading upstairs, I noticed it appearing on the reader stats and have stopped long enough to fix the link (I suppose you can tell that I’m just learning how to youtube) and finish the post (so to speak).

    Houma is one of the coastal Louisiana town that sustained damage during Hurricane Gustav. There, power lines and utility poles are down everywhere and trees are blocking most roads — but the good news is, there is little flooding.

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    more about “Raw Video: Houma, La. Hard Hit by Gustav“, posted with vodpod

    Now, the not-good news about Louisiana’s barrier islands (emphasis mine) Continue reading “Gustav damage – Houma, La. and the barrier islands”

    Gustav sets up next round of wind v water cases

    Rebecca Mowbray’s latest story – Winds more widespread in Gustav – confirms what many were guessing.

    Although Gustav was not as severe as Katrina, more Louisiana households experienced hurricane-force winds this week than in the 2005 storm, a researcher who has done work for Entergy said Friday, as the utility remained under fire for widespread power outages.

    Researcher Greg Rigamer said 51.4 percent of Louisiana residents experienced hurricane-force winds during Gustav’s wide-ranging trek across the state, compared with 39 percent of residents during Katrina.

    “The impact of Gustav was far greater in the state of Louisiana than Katrina. While Katrina was more severe, Gustav was more expansive,” Rigamer said. “Gustav had a significant footprint.”

    With much of Louisiana literally still in the dark, those of us outside the state are better able to see the extent of wind damage.  I’ll add links to some of the reports I’ve read in comments; but, first, more from Mowbray’s story and how Gustav makes the case for immediate passage of HR3121. Continue reading “Gustav sets up next round of wind v water cases”

    Gustav not just a coastal storm – insured damage estimate of $4-10 billion

    An estimate of $4 -10 billion in insured damage is a pretty big spread.  Of course, It’s easier to cut coverage and raise rates when hurricanes are prompted as a coastal problem – but they’re that and then some according to these stories.

    The Shreveport Times reports a A catastrophic risk management company says private insurers could face damages from Hurricane Gustav between $4 billion and $10 billion.

    Newark, California-based Risk Management Solutions said today that the estimate included damage to the offshore petroleum industry and damage from wind and storm surge. The estimate did not include potential levee damage or from post-Gustav flooding from heavy rainfall that was forecast for the rest of the week.

    The company said damage to the offshore petroleum industry could range from $1 billion to $3 billion. Insured losses to homes and businesses were estimated from $3 billion to $7 billion.

    Those estimates do not include liability facing the federal flood insurance program. (emphasis mine)

    Wind caused extensive damage here and in Louisiana – and this map from Jim Brown’s blog indicates Continue reading “Gustav not just a coastal storm – insured damage estimate of $4-10 billion”

    Some Gustav Aftermath With a Local Perspective

    We’ll start first in Hancock County. JR Welsh reports the facts for the Sun Herald, I’ll add some perspective.

    Along the Bay of St. Louis, pounding surf further eroded the coastline along Beach Boulevard, and piers were taken out by the unruly waves. The surge was estimated at 6 to 8 feet.

    There was also a high tide around 1:00PM which added to the total water. Growing up I saw “Gustav” many times. As Mr Welsh reports low lying areas were hit hard. The surprise to me was seeing DeRussy Motors flooded on WLOX.

    In Pearlington, “the initial assessment is not going to be good,” said Hancock County Supervisor Rocky Pullman, whose district includes the isolated area. Some homes flooded, and “there may very well have been water-well contamination” in the area, which still has no public water system, he added.

    Pearlington is a great spot for fish camps, it is very low on the east side of the Pearl River mouth. Katrina previously wiped it clean.

    Officials feared that water and sewer infrastructure in the south county, already pummeled by Katrina, again suffered damage.

    Beach road was largely torn up ongoing infrastructure repairs when Gustav hit. The south of CSX tracks west side of Waveland is largely done and most likely did not flood. My lot did not flood. Continue reading “Some Gustav Aftermath With a Local Perspective”