Agents, Meteorologists Gear Up for Annual Texas Hurricane Tour

August 10, 2009

For the fourth year in a row insurance spokesmen will team with meteorologists from the National Weather Service and independent insurance agents to warn Texas coastal residents of the potential dangers of hurricanes. This year’s message is “What We Learned from Hurricane Ike,” the costliest storm in Texas history. The coastal tour will commence Aug. 24.

“We can’t emphasize enough that when our office sends out weather bulletins describing the intensity of a storm, coastal residents need to heed our warnings,” said Gene Hafele, warning coordination meteorologist for the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service Office. “We would have lost fewer lives if many residents on Bolivar Peninsula would have evacuated, rather than trying to ride the storm out.”

Twenty two people drowned when Hurricane Ike’s 20 foot storm surge engulfed Bolviar Peninsula along with portions of Galveston, Harris, Chambers and Jefferson Counties. Ike’s 110 mile per wind gusts were responsible for damage to half of all homes in Harris County. Ike created more than 800,000 claims with insured losses in excess of $10 billion.

In the past ten years six hurricanes have struck the Texas coast. They started with Hurricane Bret that made landfall in the isolated ranch lands of Kenedy County in 1999, followed by Hurricane Claudette that struck Port O’Connor and Victoria in 2003, Hurricane Rita in southeast Texas in 2005, Hurricane Humberto over the same region in 2007 and Hurricane Ike over Galveston Island in 2008.

“There are generations of Texans living along the Texas coast in places like Corpus Christi who have never seen the affects of a hurricane,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “Our coastal tour is a warning to all homeowners not to become complacent or unprepared for a catastrophic storm.”

Hanna and others will be distributing brochures entitled “What We Learned from Hurricane Ike” in both English and Spanish and recommending that homeowners heed evacuation orders, conduct home inventories and consider purchasing both windstorm and flood insurance.

The hurricane tour also consists of purchasing English and Spanish newspaper ads and radio spots in employing a similar message. Last year’s tour reached an estimated 2 million Texas coastal residents.

The tour will start in the Beaumont, Orange, Port Arthur area and end in the Rio Grande Valley after 37 media stops in five days.

The Insurance Council of Texas, www.insurancecouncil.org

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