Last year’s hurricane season was devastating to Houston and the entire region. As many as 16,000 apartment units were damaged. As the 2018 hurricane season starts, here are a few things apartment residents should keep in mind.
Renters insurance: Every apartment resident should have renters’ insurance. Starting at $15 to $20 a month, it is very affordable and can save you a lot of headaches later on. It can help pay to replace your belongings, from clothes to electronics and might even cover hotel stays, if your unit becomes uninhabitable. Most apartment residents own up to $20,000 in various belongings. Make sure to ask your insurance carrier what is and isn’t covered in your specific policy in the event of a hurricane or another weather event.
Your car: Most apartment properties, especially the newer ones, are built with potential flooding in mind. New Houston regulations are going to make future apartment properties even more flood-resistant. Those new rules don’t necessarily apply to parking, though. When a storm approaches, think strategically where the best place for your vehicle is. At your apartment garage? At work? In a nearby parking structure? Next, ask yourself if you have the necessary level of insurance? Will it cover flooding damage? It’s also a good idea to keep your car filled up throughout the hurricane season. Fill your tank when it gets half-empty. It will save you from long gas lines.
Your phone: When the electricity is out, smartphones are often our only communications line with the outside world, provided you still have the signal. They not only allow you to stay in touch with family and friends, but also check weather updates, evacuation orders and store openings. Plan ahead and keep a few portable battery charges for your phone on hand and charged. Make sure you have the proper cords and plugs in one place in case you need to evacuate.
It’s hurricane season and we’ve seen a lot of destruction. Harvey and Irma wreaked havoc while Jose prepares to cause more mayhem. Now, Maria will join the list of storms this season. Here’s what you need to know: As of 11 a.m. ET, she was centered about 60 miles east of Martinique, and she’s expected to make landfall in the northeast Caribbean’s Leeward Islands at around 8 p.m. ET. Maria has intensified to a category 3 tropical storm with sustained winds of 120 mph. She is headed straight for Puerto Rico, which has declared a state of emergency. Through Wednesday night, areas in the central and souther Leeward Islands will experience up to 20 inches of rain.
Water, medication and food: Make sure you’ve got a few days’ worth of non-perishable provisions and bottled water for you and your family, in case you have to shelter in place and there is no electricity. Store several days’ worth of your medication in a waterproof container, so that it doesn’t get damaged and you don’t run out before pharmacies and doctors’ offices reopen.
What if you have to evacuate? Most managers and owners will do everything they can to accommodate residents during and after a storm, and provide alternate housing. But if there are no available units, or the entire property has been damaged, you might have to evacuate. If you have to leave your units, make sure to bring a copy of your apartment lease agreement along with all the contact information you have for the manager and/or owner. Make sure the management has your contact information, so they can let you know when it is safe to return.
What if your apartment gets destroyed? Texas law says that either you or the owner can terminate a lease on a unit that is “totally unusable” after a hurricane. If that happens, you need to be in contact with the owner to make sure you can make arrangements to get any salvageable belongings out of your flooded unit when it’s safe to do so.
This article was provided by the Houston Apartment Association. For more information, visit www.haaonline.org.