Get Storm Ready in Tampa – Emergency Officials Urge Residents to Prepare Now | Tampa Bay Hurricane and Storm Damage Claims Lawyers Whittel & Melton


Flash fooding across Florida last week resulted in Gov. Ron DeSantis declaring a State of Emergency in Sarasota County and several others in south Florida.

Storms and heavy downpours have emergency officials urging Tampa Bay residents to stay up to date on what to do in the event of severe weather as hurricane season has just begun.

Clearwater officials distributed around 3,000 sandbags to residents on Saturday to assist with storm surge and flooding. Keep in mind that last year, a no-name storm brought more flooding to the area than some of the hurricanes that have made landfall.

You can find out more about storm resources in Pinellas County here. You can find out more about storm resources in Hillsborough County here. You can find out more about storm resources in Sarasota County here.

What is a Storm Surge?

A storm surge is a rise in sea level that occurs during tropical storms, hurricanes, and other severe weather conditions. It is caused by the wind and pressure forces from the storm pushing seawater onto the shore. Storm surges can lead to significant coastal flooding, with water levels rising several feet above the normal tide.

Why Does Flooding Happen?

Flooding can be caused by a variety of events, including excessive rainfall, storm surges, river overflow, and dam failures. Floods can occur rapidly (flash floods) or develop over time, engulfing homes, roads, and entire communities.

How Can You Prepare Your Property from a Storm Surge or Flood?

  • Elevate Utilities: Elevate HVAC systems, water heaters, and electrical appliances above possible flood levels.
  • Install Flood Barriers: Sandbags can be used to protect entry points like doors and windows.
  • Clear Drains and Gutters: Make sure all drainage systems are clear to allow water to flow away from your home.
  • Anchor Outdoor Items: Secure outdoor furniture, grills, and other things that may become dangerous projectiles in high winds.

How Can You Stay Safe During a Storm Surge or Flood?

  • Evacuate if Ordered: Follow evacuation orders if they are issued for your area. Do not wait until the last minute, as roads may become blocked keeping you stuck in a danger zone.
  • Avoid Floodwaters: Never walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters. Know this: six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of standing water can carry your car away.
  • Get Yourself to Higher Ground: Move to the top level of your house if evacuation is not an option, but stay away from enclosed attics where rising water could trap you.

What About Repairing Your Home After a Storm Surge or Flood?

The fact that flood damage is not covered by a typical homeowner’s insurance policy surprises a lot of home and business owners. You must purchase a separate flood insurance policy, so that if your home or business is damaged from a storm surge or flooding, you can get reimbursed for all damages. The primary source of flood insurance in the US is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The process for filing a flood insurance claim is like the process for filing a homeowners insurance claim – these are both first party claims. You will need to contact your NFIP insurance company or agent (these policies are usually administered by Liberty Mutual, Allstate, etc.) to let them know you are filing a claim for damage. In general, you have 60 days from the date of the flood to submit a proof of loss statement for NFIP policies, which should include a list of everything that was destroyed or damaged. This process can be complex, just like a standard homeowner’s insurance claim for hurricane damages, and your initial claim could be denied.

Our Tampa Bay Hurricane and Storm Damage Claims Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you file a homeowner’s or flood insurance claim after a storm. We can also step in and help if you have a received notice that your claim has been denied. Call us at 727-823-0000 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you.


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