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The Hurricane Dorian Dilemma

The Hurricane Dorian Dilemma

Historically, Labor Day storms have not been kind to Florida and Hurricane Dorian has proven to be no exception. 

Although Dorian’s final trajectory and impact on Florida remains uncertain, many State agencies, aerospace companies, businesses and thousands of residents have spent millions of dollars bracing for Dorian and its potential for an unprecedented impact. Our public adjuster staff is not sure if we will be heading into a Cat 5 disaster area to help with insurance claims or fielding calls from minor damage.   

Yesterday, I watched the massive Category 5 Hurricane match the record set by the Labor Day Hurricane that struck the Florida Keys in 1935 as Dorian first made landfall in the Bahamas on Elbow Cay and then the town of Marsh Harbour in the northern part of the Abaco Islands. 

The damage and devastation that is still ongoing will forever change the landscape of these islands and also for those who are fortunate enough to survive.  Watching the eye pass directly over these islands brought back some bad memories for me that were reminiscent of watching the eye of Category 5 Hurricane Irma that passed directly over the island of St. Maarten.  All of these islands are beautiful, and each have their own unique characteristics, some of which I have been fortunate to visit.  

During the summer months growing up, my father and I would journey down to the Florida Keys and if the weather permitted, we would seek to venture over to the Bahamas in our pursuit of catching fish.  In 2001, we embarked to come home from Marsh Harbour and just as we were about to make the turn back West at the Southern tip of Grande Abaco, we spun a prop and quickly realized we might be in danger given some high seas and rocks close to shore.  Thankfully, we were able to manage our way out of danger, but it was a long 8 hour journey back to Marsh Harbour where the boat had to be pulled out and we had to wait for a part to be delivered which took weeks to repair. 

For those unfamiliar to the area, the island of Elbow Cay is a remote, sleepy outpost located about 4 miles East of Marsh Harbour where visitors have to take a ferry to visit.  Hope Town is the heart and soul of the town and home to the famous Elbow Reef Lighthouse.  Golf carts are the main source of transportation and most of the supplies for the area are brought in by barge each week.  There are luxurious private estates, which must be constructed to adhere to Bahamian Architecture at the discretion of Town Planning and Hope Town District Council.  The people are extremely welcoming, kind and friendly.  The area is also rich with history. It was founded in 1785 by people seeking refuge after the American Revolution.

Hurricane Dorian has without question caused much undue stress, especially as we enter the peak of Hurricane Season.  The storm has challenged forecasters and exposed many weaknesses, which we should all learn from. At the very least it should be a good drill to prepare the entire state for future storms.  

In Florida, the evidence is now clear that many of our State’s nursing homes and elder care facilities do not meet requirements. Florida is home to more than 3,700 nursing homes and assisted living facilities that are now required by law to have the capability to keep indoor temperatures from going above 81 degrees for at least 96 hours after a power outage. Doing so requires them to purchase generators. As of August 2019, almost 300 facilities have been fined for failing to comply with regulations that were exposed by Hurricane Irma and led to deaths after nursing homes lost power. This week four employees of a nursing home led to manslaughter charges after a criminal investigation.

So as Dorian approaches our public adjuster staff will be on alert and ready to help policyholders file their insurance claims. For our readers my message is simple: prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Err on the side of safety.

As always, the public insurance adjusters at Tutwiler and Associates are here to help with any property insurance related questions you may have. Please call 800.321.4488 or contact a public adjuster to submit a question to one of our insurance claim experts.

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