The formation of Tropical Storm Arlene may be an ominous sign for what has been forecasted to be an overly active hurricane season this year. The six-month hurricane season began just days ago and weather experts say 2005 could be just as damaging as last year.
“The formation of this storm so early in the season should serve as a wake-up call for residents along the Texas coast to prepare a plan in case they need to evacuate,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “It’s never too early for coastal residents to determine how they will protect themselves and their property in the wake of a potentially catastrophic storm.”
Texas was spared from the onslaught of four hurricanes that ripped through Florida last year causing more than $20 billion in damage. Texas’ last hurricane occurred on July 16, 2003, when Hurricane Claudette with 100 mile an hour wind gusts came ashore near Port O’Connor claiming two lives and causing an estimated $100 million in damage.
Most Texas homeowner policies include coverage for wind and hail, while that coverage is often excluded for residents along the Texas coastline. Texas coastal residents frequently turn to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) for this protection.
More than 100 thousand businesses and homeowners along the Texas coast have purchased wind/hail coverage through the TWIA, but many others have elected to go uninsured. Waiting until the last second to purchase new or additional windstorm coverage won’t work.
TWIA’s windstorm coverage cannot be purchased when a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico. There’s an even longer time lapse on purchasing flood insurance. A new flood insurance policy takes 30 days before taking effect.
The National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Arlene was tracking anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle and could make landfall by this weekend. The storm has the potential to produce rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches for islands in its immediate path.