Articles Posted in Hurricane & Storm Damage


A second tornado was confirmed by the National Weather Service because of Tuesday’s powerful storms, which also resulted in power outages and warnings.

An EF-1 tornado with 90 mph peak speeds and a 0.61-mile path made landfall in the Eagles community in northwest Hillsborough County, just east of Pinellas County, at approximately 4 p.m., according to the NWS.

The tornado was not linked to any reported injuries.

A confirmed EF-0 tornado had already occurred close to St. Petersburg’s downtown.

Waves crashed up onto picnic spots on Hudson Beach, causing coastal flooding in several parts of Pasco County. The Florida Panhandle was also affected by the storms, seeing at least three confirmed tornadoes as of Tuesday morning, according to reports.

The storms have rolled across the surrounding areas, toppling houses, and squashing recreational vehicles.

Alongside possibly dangerous gusts, coastal floods, the possibility of tornadoes, and heavy rains, the storms are linked to a strong low and cold front.

Fortunately, insurance should cover the damage for owners who have lost property due to a tornado. In contrast to other natural disasters like sinkholes, earthquakes, and floods, tornadoes are generally covered by a standard homeowners or business policy. Despite this, insurance companies continue to underpay and deny tornado claims. And, while a denial may include a lengthy, technical explanation that makes it appear valid, it may not be. Scale is Used to Classify Tornadoes?

The enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, which ranks tornadoes from EF-0 (low damage; winds 40-72 mph) to EF-5 (extremely significant damage; 261-318 mph winds), is used to determine the severity of a tornado based on the damage it causes to buildings. Although the storms that hit Hillsborough and Pinellas counties were classified as Category EF-0 and EF-1, even these weaker tornadoes can cause serious damage to single-family home with winds as high as 200 mph.

  • EF-0: Minor damage to chimneys and business sign boards and banners.
  • EF-1: Roof surfaces ripped off; mobile homes flipped.
  • EF-2: Roofs torn off homes and buildings; mobile homes demolished.
  • EF-3: Walls and roofs ripped off homes and buildings.
  • EF-4: Homes and buildings leveled and possibly scattered a substantial distance away.
  • EF-5: Houses and buildings destroyed and nothing remains.

What is Covered in a Typical Home Owner’s Insurance Policy for Tornado Damage?

Tornado damage to your property and the belongings within should be covered by a typical homeowners’ or business property insurance policy. This covers damage from hail, rain, and lightning, in addition to wind. All these events can occur in the wake of a tornado. Insurance should also pay for temporary housing if your home is so destroyed that you are unable to reside there.

It is crucial that the insured is aware that, regardless of age, most plans require the insurance company to cover the whole cost of replacing the damaged building or roof. Age usually carries little depreciation.

In addition, you may be eligible for insurance coverage for building repairs and roof replacement even if your dwelling or structure did not suffer catastrophic damage. Damage from tornadoes can often be modest yet substantial. For instance, sealant strips, brick ties, joints, clips, and nails are among the fastening materials that are frequently harmed by tornado winds, which are all things that can keep your roof together. Strong gusts of wind can easily break these materials, and you might not even be aware of it.

Because of this, you should have a comprehensive inspection done on your property after a storm. Future expensive maintenance may arise from failing to identify tornado damage that is less evident. Continue reading


According to a recent update from the National Weather Service, during a period of severe weather last week, six tornadoes made landfall in the Tampa Bay region – not just 2 that were noted last week.

Four EF-0 tornadoes were recorded nearby, in addition to the two EF-2 tornadoes that were reported in Pinellas County and Citrus County.

The NWS reports that Sarasota, Oldsmar, Trinity, and Clearwater all saw EF-0 tornadoes. None of them were longer than 0.5 miles.

Initially, an EF-2 tornado in Crystal River and a tornado travelling from Clearwater to Dunedin were both recorded on October 12 in the early morning hours. They both experienced maximum winds of 115 and 125 mph.

The four EF-0 tornadoes’ maximum wind speeds were 85 mph.

The storms left behind significant damage to homes and properties as well as downed power lines, trees, debris, and flooding.

Untitled-design-87-200x300When natural disasters strike, like hurricanes, major storms, and tornadoes, they usually leave behind a slew of damage to homes, businesses, and personal property. These natural disasters are typically considered by insurance companies to be significant amounts of loss brought on by weather-related dangers.

When these disasters happen, insurance firms and their adjusters are overburdened by the hundreds or thousands of claims that are being made at once. Insurance adjusters frequently ignore important aspects of each claim since they are managing many claims at once, which leads to inevitable mistakes and valid claims being delayed or outright rejected.

The financial health of an insurance firm may also suffer greatly from these catastrophes. Due to the financial pressure insurance companies are under to keep their payouts minimal, perfectly valid payments may be delayed, underpaid, or incorrectly denied.

What Should You Do if a Tornado Has Damaged Your Home or Property?

  1. Before returning to the property, make sure it is safe to do so.
  2. When you get back to your home, prevent any further damage from accumulating. Do your best to repair any damage you notice (cut off the water if pipes may have burst, board up broken windows, etc.). Failing to prevent further damage could hurt your claim.
  3. Describe in detail the losses and damages you have incurred. If you can, take pictures of the damage, including your damaged possessions. The more proof you have of your losses, the better.
  4. You should spend some time learning about your policy and comprehending the coverage you purchased with it. Before making a claim, review the benefits and losses that are covered by the policy.
  5. You should also be prepared to provide the insurance adjuster with the proper paperwork along with applicable financial information. This can prevent unnecessary holdups and help save a lot of time.
  6. Submit a formal claim to your insurance provider. Give details and evidence of your losses, including damage to your house, property, and possessions.

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Overnight, two long-track tornadoes swept across the Bay area, causing some damage in Citrus, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Fast-moving tornadoes produced by the early-morning storms left a path in Citrus County and came ashore around two in the morning. A different tornado that originated near Clearwater Beach and traveled into Pasco and eastern Hernando County was also produced.

Tornadoes in Crystal River and Clearwater/northern Pinellas have been officially identified. Later Thursday, storm survey teams will be in the neighborhood to see whether any additional locations had tornadoes.

Citrus County and the Clearwater/Dunedin area will be the subject of two damage surveys, according to the National Weather Service.

The Harbor Pointe condos by Frenchy’s Market, a condominium complex in Dunedin, had a section of the third story wall blown off during the storms. The structure, which was situated on Causeway Boulevard, had a huge hole left in it. According to a neighbor, nobody was home when the damage was done to the property.

According to Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, a tornado’s winds caused a few buildings in Crystal River to fall.

At 2:12 in the morning, Crystal River emergency management reported a tornado at US 19 and W Island Ford Trail. In the area, there were reports of downed power lines and damaged roofs.

At the same time, in Dunedin, trucks were turned over and storefront windows were blasted out in a parking lot near Causeway Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard.

Untitled-design-84-200x300When a tornado appeared to have touched down on the northern portion of Clearwater Beach, Clearwater Police and Clearwater Fire & Rescue were called to the site. No injuries have been recorded, although at least two homes on El Dorado Avenue were damaged. The initial calls came in soon before two in the morning.

Officials in Citrus County have closed several roads in Crystal River because of severe damage caused by a tornado that touched down there earlier today.

From the US Highway 19 interchange to Turkey Oak Drive, Highway 44 is closed in both directions. From West Fort Island Trail to Northeast Fifth Street in Crystal River, Highway 19 is restricted in both directions.

All counties in the Bay region, except for Polk, are under a tornado watch until 3 p.m.

Following a tornado, homeowners must endure the arduous process of evaluating the damage to their houses, listing the personal belongings they have lost, completing mountains of paperwork, and filing insurance claims for property damage. Although the recovery process is difficult, most homeowners follow the advice their insurance providers give them and hope for the best. Unfortunately, sometimes that is not enough.

It is likely that a tornado will affect an entire neighborhood, town, or region if it is severe enough to cause havoc. Due to the size of the damage, insurance companies may have to pay out a significant amount in damage claims. As a result, it is possible that they will fight tooth and nail to keep from paying out the maximum on every claim they handle.

Homeowners who are unaware of their rights may accept whatever the insurance company offers—even if it does not fully compensate them for their losses—because the insurer employs skilled legal teams and adjusters who are prepared to restrict how much the company must pay on claims. Furthermore, severe tornado damage can put strains on contractors, adjusters, and other service providers in severely affected areas, which means that homeowners may have to deal with hasty or inaccurate estimates that do not accurately reflect their losses. Continue reading


Hillsborough and Charlotte counties have been given individual assistance approval by FEMA, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Renters and homeowners who have suffered losses may apply for financial aid, short-term housing, basic home repairs, and other disaster-related expenses.

A disaster recovery center is being established by the Hillsborough County and the Florida Division of Emergency Management to help locals whose property was damaged.

Untitled-design-81-200x300When requesting FEMA disaster assistance, the Florida Division of Emergency Management advises:


While some Floridians have looked to their insurance companies or FEMA to help with property damage from Hurricane Idalia, homeowners and renters in Pasco County are being urged to apply for relief from the county’s community development department.

The county invites homeowners to apply for up to $25,000 in home repairs at their principal dwelling.

Renters may also qualify for rental assistance of up to $20,000. Should a family or individual need to relocate, this can cover the costs of a security deposit as well as the first and final month’s rent.

Individuals and families with low and moderate incomes are eligible for the assistance.

You can apply for aid here.

Untitled-design-57-200x300What About My Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance?

If your homeowner’s or renter’s policy covers storm damage, having it can give you some peace of mind. What happens, though, if the insurance provider rejects your claim? You can suffer severe damages and have no way to rebuild.

Many storm victims may accept the insurance company’s word without challenging it in order to receive the money they are entitled to for reconstruction. That may mean that you leave empty-handed or with insufficient funds.

Insurance firms profit by taking in a large sum of money and paying out fewer claims. Insurance firms receive a flood of claims when a hurricane hits and may attempt to underpay or reject claims when they can.

Most consumers mistakenly believe that their hurricane insurance policy would pay for all house damage that a storm may inflict, but this is not necessarily the case. There are several important things that your typical hurricane insurance policy is likely to not cover. It is crucial to be aware of these exclusions so that you can make the appropriate plans and preparations. In Florida, a few of the major things that storm insurance frequently excludes are as follows:

  1. Wind damage: Surprisingly, wind damage is generally excluded from normal storm insurance coverage. This means that your insurance may not pay for repairs if strong winds cause damage to your home.
  2. Flooding: Flooding is not often covered by hurricane insurance policies. This is one of the most common exclusions, thus it is crucial to be aware of it. You might wish to buy supplementary flood insurance to protect your house if you reside in a flood-prone location.
  3. Backup of your sewage or drains: If your sewer or drains back up as a result of an excessive amount of rain, your hurricane insurance policy probably will not pay for the damages. However, you might be able to buy extra protection for this kind of occurrence.
  4. Mold: Mold development is commonly caused by water damage, which is frequently excluded from storm insurance coverage. As a result, these plans frequently do not cover mold damage.
  5. Personal Property: Your home’s structural damage will probably be the only thing covered by your hurricane insurance coverage, not your personal belongings. This means that you will probably have to foot the bill for their replacement if a hurricane damages your furniture, electronics, or other personal items.

It is critical to understand your hurricane insurance policy’s restrictions before a storm comes. This way, you can be certain that you have the necessary coverage to secure your house and other personal belongings. Continue reading


Tropical Storm Idalia is intensifying swiftly as it barrels toward Florida and has the potential to reach Category 3 status.

Floridians are being warned of the potential to lose power, and portions of Pasco County will be under mandatory evacuation.

As Tropical Storm Idalia approaches Pasco County, those who live closest to the ocean, in manufactured homes, and in low-lying areas will be required to evacuate, according to the county.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Idalia is anticipated to become a hurricane on Monday and make landfall as a dangerous major storm on Wednesday morning close to the Big Bend of Florida.

You can track the storm here.

Untitled-design-57-200x300What Types of Damage Can We See From a Category 3 Hurricane?

Category 3 hurricanes are major hurricanes that produce widespread devastation. Wind speeds can reach 111 to 130 miles per hour. When Hurricane Katrina hit the United States in 2005, it was a Category 3 storm. While it was in the Gulf of Mexico, it developed into a Category 5 hurricane in just nine hours, but when it hit land again, it became a Category 3.

A Category 3 hurricane can cause buildings and homes to lose their roofs. Winds can uproot or break strong trees. Affected communities can experience near-total power outages that might last days or weeks.

In a Category 3 hurricane, storm surges that are 9 to 12 feet above normal can enter buildings that appear to be far from the beach. Floodwaters can infiltrate the first and second floors of a building, causing extensive water damage.

With Tropical Storm Idalia heading our way, it is important to be prepared. One major tip our Pasco County Hurricane & Storm Damage Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton is to take photos or videos of your roof before a severe storm hits your house or business. You will have strong proof to present to your insurance provider if the storm damages your roof in any manner. You should be able to make a convincing case for your claim by showing them photos of your roof before it sustained damage and contrasting them with photos taken after the storm.

Right now, you should make your preparations and evacuate to safety if you live in an area that is requiring it. You can view shelter locations here. You and the safety of your family is most important right now. Continue reading


If Tropical Storm Nicole knocks out your power, you want to make sure that you and your emergency generator are ready.

A portable generator can be your best mechanical friend if you have lost power during a hurricane or storm, but it can also cause serious harm if you do not know what you are doing.

isolated-g138d25ac3_1920-300x300It is critical that you know how to use a generator properly. Here are some tips to help you use a generator safely:


  • Start your machine and run it for a short period of time periodically throughout the year, so you know that the machine is working properly and ready to go when you need it.
  • Check the oil frequently.
  • Have fresh fuel on hand to power your generator. If your generator runs on gas, then you will need to plan for about 21 gallons a day for it to operate 24 hours.
  • Check your generator’s capacity before you power any devices. If your combined wattage for devices that you are powering exceed the capacity of your generator, then this is a recipe for disaster.
  • Make sure your extension cords are heavy-duty and properly grounded.
  • If you want to connect an emergency generator to your home’s main electrical system, then make sure you hire a qualified technician to install a transfer switch.


  • Keep a running generator in your garage or inside your home. Generators need to be at least 15 feet away from enclosed structures as they emit odorless carbon monoxide exhaust fumes that can be deadly.
  • Keep fuel stored in your home or garage near appliances, like a water heater, furnace, or any other potentially combustible appliances.
  • Power a generator directly to your home’s electrical box as this is a fire hazard.
  • Run a generator in rain. Electrical panels that get wet could not only damage the machine, but deliver an electric shock.
  • Refuel a generator when it is running. If fuel spills on a hot motor, then this can spark and explosion or fire.

If you have any power outages or downed power lines in your area, then you can report them to Tampa Electric (TECO) at 1-877-588-1010. You can also report storm debris, fallen trees, and street flooding to the City of Tampa at 1-833-TPA-INFO (872-4636).

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While Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Larry, another monstrous storm, is stirring up dangerous waters up and down the entire eastern seaboard as it heads toward Bermuda.

Hurricane Larry has been knocked down to a Category 2 Hurricane from a Category 3, with maximum winds clocked at 110 mph as the storm churns 425 miles southeast of Bermuda, leaving that area with a Tropical Storm warning.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199On Wednesday night, Tropical Depression Mindy made landfall as a tropical storm in St. Vincent Island, Florida. The storm brings winds of as high as 35 mph and is expected to cause an estimated 6 inches of rainfall across the Florida Panhandle as well as parts of southern Georgia and South Carolina.


2020 is one of the most active storm seasons ever in the waters around the State of Florida, the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea.

key-west-81664_1920-1-300x199STORM DEDUCTIBLE CONFUSION?!

Florida Property insurance policies typically have two deductibles. A standard deductible for most losses; and a hurricane deductible. The standard “Other Perils” deductible is for pretty much anything covered by the policy, such as fire, pipe bursts and appliance related water damage claims, or windstorms, etc. The hurricane deductible only applies to named Hurricanes. The last major hurricane to hit Florida was Hurricane Michael in the panhandle on October 10, 2018; and more recently in the western portions of the Florida panhandle for Hurricane Sally on September 16, 2020, and Hurricane Zeta on October 28, 2020. Hurricane deductibles are typically 2 or 3 percent of the limit of the insurance for the home which is a lot higher than the standard deductible for all other claims. The Eta storm of November 2020 started off in South Florida counties like Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County as a Tropical Storm (not a hurricane). But as storms in Florida do, things changed, and the weather system chased west back into the Gulf of Mexico where it was reclassified as a Hurricane for a short period of time before heading back to the Nature Coast across Florida again as a Tropical Storm.


First, an insurer may rush to slap a hurricane deductible on your claim when it should not apply because a Tropical Storm is not a hurricane. Second (and this is really the most important!), Insurers in Florida have often told their customers after a storm that unless they absolutely know that their damage is more than their hurricane deductible, then they should not even put in a claim. There are many reasons why this is terrible advice and a bad business practice by insurance companies. As the policyholder, it is not your job to know the exact amount of damage you have in the weeks following a severe storm. You also may discover that the storm caused much more damage than you initially thought or could see in the days following the hurricane. Many Floridians have fallen for the insurers gambit only to attempt to make their claims later on and be told its too late to make the claim.

If you believe you have Hurricane or Tropical Storm damage from any of these strong weather systems that brought havoc to Florida, please call us and we can assist you in determining which deductible applies, assist you with determining the actual extent of the damage to your home, and provide needed guidance through the process with your insurance company.

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The state of Florida’s coastal location makes it susceptible to tropical storms and hurricanes, which deliver considerable damage each year. If are a Florida home or property owner, it is critical to protect your property during hurricane season.

Our Florida Hurricane & Storm Claim Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you safeguard your property against severe weather. We understand the realities of hurricane season, and we are here to help you and your loved ones prepare for the worst.

Below are some useful tips if Hurricane Dorian strikes your property.

  1. Create a Home Inventory

You need to outline a comprehensive inventory of your belongings. Go through every room in your home or business and document the items with photographs, video and detailed notes with the value of your property. While this might seem overwhelming, it is invaluable when you must file an insurance claim.

  1. Have Emergency Supplies in Stock

Emergency supplies can save your life in the aftermath of a tropical storm or hurricane. You will need a large fresh water supply (one gallon per person per day) and nonperishable food (enough for five days). It is also important to have a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries and small tools such as can openers and wrenches. Another good tip is to keep your important insurance policy documents in an accessible, waterproof container.

  1. Protect Your Property

If a tropical storm or hurricane is imminent, you should do everything you can to protect your property. Hurricane shutters or thick pieces of plywood can cover windows and exposed areas. Remove any weak tree limbs to reduce dangerous debris. Bring in all outdoor furniture and anything else that could become airborne.

  1. Be Ready to Evacuate

If you need to leave your property on short notice, pack valuable documentation such as insurance cards, passports, Social Security cards and your property deed.

  1. Review Your Insurance Coverage

Review your home or commercial property insurance to ensure that you have adequate coverage. Verify that your policy covers damages for the current value of your property. If your coverage is insufficient, you should adjust your policy. Flood insurance and windstorm coverage are also great investments that can be purchased in addition to your home or commercial property insurance.

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