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The Aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac in South Florida – What Do You Do If Your Property Was Damaged or Flooded? What About Your Business?

tropical_storm_issac,_generic_medium.jpgTens of thousands of homes and businesses remained without power Monday across South Florida as the remnants of Tropical Storm Isaac continue to wreak havoc for South Florida residents and businesses alike.

Heavy rains, and hail, have caused wide spread flooding and property damage. Strong wind gusts has caused trees to fall which has resulted in extensive property damage throughout South Florida.

Our storm damage attorneys stand prepared to assist you during this time of heavy rain and chaos. But now is also the time to ensure that you remain pro-active to protect yourself, your property and your business.

This significant weather event may have caused damage to your home, your property, or even your business. It is of critical importance that your damage be properly documented.

Start by taking photographs of the damages and properly inventorying your damage. Damage to your personal contents is of particular importance since it could be both time consuming and emotional to document.

Also, please take the necessary efforts to stop any further damage with your property as a result of the wind and rain coming from Tropical Storm Isaac. Keep all receipts and paperwork associated with such efforts and any emergency repairs you may need to take.

It will also be critical to determine whether or not your claim is a result of flooding, or wind. This distinction is critical to understand and in assessing your rights and applicable coverage available to you as a result of the damage sustained thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac.

What about your business? Well, if you have a business interruption policy then you may have coverage available to you as a result of Miami-Dade County Mayor’s decision to issue an evacuation order for people living in mobile home parks, unsafe structures, and areas prone to flooding. He also closed the Port of Miami.

As a result of this Order, businesses have been ordered to close until further notice. Such an order is commonplace when a natural disaster threatens, like Tropical Storm Isaac.

If your business purchased standard business income coverage then it is likely that your policy provides coverage for any loss of income caused by the Mayor’s decision to issue an evacuation order and close the Port of Miami.

Our firm stands ready to assist with your property damage needs and to battle with your insurance company to ensure proper compensation for your insurance claim. Whether you are a resident with damaged property, or a business owner who has sustained an interruption to your business as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, call us today for a free consultation.

Alberto? Beryl? Chris? Debby? Our Firm Stands Ready to Help Miami Homeowners if a Named Storm Strikes South Florida

So far this year there have been four named storms, including one hurricane and three tropical storms. Any of these storms are strong enough to do significant damage. However, none of them reached South Florida.

Tropical depressions are storms with winds of up to 38 mph and are identified only by numbers; tropical storms are given names and have winds form 39 to 73 mph and hurricanes have winds above 74 mph.
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Storms so far in 2012 have included:
-Tropical Storm Alberto: Reached speeds of 60 mph and one of the earliest named storms in recent history having formed before the official start of hurricane season.
-Tropical Storm Beryl: Speeds of 70 mph. Beryl made landfall in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. It was the strongest landfall in the United States for any pre-season Atlantic tropical cyclone on record.
-Hurricane Chris: The first hurricane of the season reaching strength of 75 mph.
-Tropical Storm Debby: Reached speeds of 60 mph and dumped a ton of rain on Tampa and Jacksonville.

Our Miami hurricane damage lawyers urge you to take the South Florida hurricane season seriously and properly prepare for the safety of you and your family. Our staff will be available around the clock in the event of a serious storm and can assist you in filing claims or handling disputes with your insurance carrier.

Storms are named in order of the alphabet each year, except for the letters q, u, x, y, and z, which are omitted. Whenever a storm causes serious damage, like Wilma or Katrina, the name is retired and replaced.

Names for 2012 are:

  • Alberto
  • Beryl
  • Chris
  • Debby
  • Ernesto
  • Florence
  • Gordon
  • Helene
  • Isaac
  • Joyce
  • Kirk
  • Leslie
  • Michael
  • Nadine
  • Oscar
  • Patty
  • Rafael
  • Sandy
  • Tony
  • Valerie
  • William

Less Active Hurricane Season Predicted for 2012

10798857-large.jpgAccording to the Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorlogy Project, we should get ready for a less hectic hurricane season this year due as opposed to years past.

They predict that the 2012 hurricane season will be less active than normal. They also predict that this hurricane season will be close to half as active as last year. Last year we saw 19 named storms. Of those storms, 7 of them turned into hurricanes, and 3 of them turned in major hurricanes measured at Cat 3 or stronger.

However, forecasters Philip Klotzbach and William Gray predict the 2012 season, which begins June 1, will have 4 hurricanes, compared with an average of 6.5 hurricanes between 1981 and 2010, and 10 named storms, compared with an average of 12.

The forecasting duo credit a combination of cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and an expected return to El Nino warmer than normal surface water conditions in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean for the reduced tropical storm activity.

Although Florida was again spared in the busy 2012 season, one should not their guard down.

Forecasters don’t like to make landfall predictions, but they are able to say that certain areas may be more prone to being hit by a hurricane this year. South Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas are being pinpointed as areas where chances of landfall are greater.

It’s certainly frightening to hear that South Florida is at great risk year to be struck by a hurricane, even if there are potentially less hurricanes in total this year. We’ve been spared over the last few years, but hurricanes are a fact of life in South Florida.

Although this often leads us to brush off hurricanes, it’s important to be prepared.

One way of ensuring that you’re prepared is to make sure to having everything in place to contact your insurance company in the event of a windstorm because all insureds have a duty to immediately notify an insurers of a loss. Whatever you do, and no matter how slight the damage, call your insurer if your home has been damaged by a windstorm.

However, there are times when immediate notice is still not enough because an insurer will treat their policyholder unfairly by wholly denying a valid claim or by not fully covering their insured’s loss. Realizing that most people are unaware of their rights, insurers may take advantage of their policyholders.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you believe that your insurance company is treating you unfairly, don’t hesitate to contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP. We have considerable experience dealing with insurance companies and working to make sure our clients get what they are owed.

Third Busiest Hurricane Season On Record Comes to a Quiet End and for the 5th Straight Year without a Strike to South Florida

storm.jpgThe 2010 hurricane season has officially come to an end with many breathing a sigh of relief. Fortunately, South Florida has gone through another hurricane season where we have not been hit by a storm.

By the numbers, however, this was a monstrous season. Nineteen (19) storms were named this past season, which ranks as the third busiest season on record. Fortunately, the mainland US was able to escape this busy season. The mainland was not hit by a major hurricane strike for the fifth straight year. As South Floridians, we’re used to braving powerful storms, but this year we were hardly affected by Tropical Storms Bonnie and Nicole.

According to a spokesperson from the National Hurricane Center, South Florida has never gone more than five years without a major hurricane strike. If South Florida does not get hit by a storm next year, it would set a record. However, we shouldn’t bet on setting this record.

This streak of not being hit by storms coincides with a surge in storms. Since 1995, the La Nina weather pattern and warm Atlantic Ocean temperatures have sparked a string of very active seasons. As a result, the season was still deadly, especially in the Caribbean. A hurricane caused widespread flooding and killed at least 20 there and 14 more in St. Lucia. Belize, Mexico, Cuba and Honduras were also struck by storms or hurricanes.

The only parts of the mainland which were affected by any sort of storm were Texas and North Carolina. Tropical Storm Hermine triggered flooding and was blamed for six deaths. Hurricane Earl only brushed the East Coast, but it caused massive flooding in North Carolina.

Our Miami insurance dispute lawyers handle insurance claims for homeowners. Our attorneys represented insurance companies before 2006, when we opened a firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers. We understand how insurance companies work. And we have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent homeowners in disputes over an insurance claim.

If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

An Active Hurricane Season is Coming to a Close without any Hurricane Striking South Florida

katrina.jpgThe 2010 hurricane season is almost over. There are only three weeks remaining in the hurricane season this year.

But this hurricane season is already one for the record books, tying for the third most active season with 19 named storms. As this hurricane season comes to a close, it appears as though both Florida and the United States mainland will have again dodged potential catastrophe in that no significant storm made landfall this year.

Indeed, it has been a very fortuities few years for South Florida. History has shown us that past hurricane seasons as busy as this one typically results in at least two named storms and making landfall. For instance, researching records back to 1900 revealed that in five previous seasons with 10 or more hurricanes, at least two named storms made landfall somewhere in the United States. And so far this season, we have seen 19 named storms, none of which has made landfall in the United States.

Therefore, unless something really serious forms in the next three weeks, it would be the 5th year in a row that the United States has a escaped a major hurricane. And so far this year, only Hurricane Earl which brushed the East Coast but caused massive flooding in portions of North Carolina, and Tropical Storm Hermine, which came ashore as a depression and triggered flooding in Texas blamed for at least six deaths, have done any significant damage. South Florida had close calls with Tropical Storm Bonnie and Nicole, but escaped both storms with just rain.

Our Miami insurance dispute lawyers handle insurance claims for homeowners. Our attorneys represented insurance companies before 2006, when we opened a firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of consumers. We understand how insurance companies work. And we have the knowledge and experience necessary to represent homeowners in disputes over an insurance claim.

If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Brace Yourself for the Height of South Florida Hurricane Season

The warm bathing waters of the Gulf of Mexico and a La Nina pattern will increase the risk of a serious storm hitting South Florida as we head into the height of hurricane season, the Miami Herald reported.

If you have not already done so, our Miami storm damage attorneys encourage you to make some basic preparations. Even the busiest among us can tackle hurricane preparation in stages, as we suggest on our Florida Insurance Claim Lawyer Blog.
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The remainder of this year’s hurricane season is likely to be “bad and busy” according to forecasters. The presence of a La Nina pattern and record high water temperatures make the environment about as hurricane friendly as possible. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a 70 percent change of 14 to 20 named storms through November; thus far this year we have had just three named storms and two other tropical depressions that failed to strengthen.

Eight of the 12 predicted storms could reach hurricane threshold with four to six growing into major hurricanes.

“We’re to the period when you start to see these waves rolling off of Africa,” NOAA forecaster Gerry Bell told the Herald. “Everything is in place for a really active year.”

While NOAA does not make landfall predictions, history indicates a 90 chance of a strike somewhere on the East Coast and an 80 percent chance for Gulf Coast landfall. South Florida has not been hit by a major hurricane since Wilma in 2005 — a record year that produced 28 named storms and 15 hurricanes.

Water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are as high as they have been since 2005. La Nina, which is marked by cool temperatures in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, reduces wind sheer and can make it easier for storms in the Atlantic to form.

Earlier this month, famed hurricane prognosticator Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University predicted 18 named storms, including 10 hurricanes.
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If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Miami is State’s Most Vulnerable Area for Hurricane Damage, according to Study

Miami is the most vulnerable area in Florida for damage caused by a hurricane, according to a new study released this week by Florida State University.

The Miami Herald reports that the Miami area is the most vulnerable of Florida’s 12 population centers. The state capital of Tallahassee is the least vulnerable. Cape Coral is ranked fourth, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
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The Florida State University study used a new Hurricane Risk Calculator to determine that Miami can expect a Category 3 hurricane once every 12 years on average. As we reported on our Florida Insurance Lawyer Blog, Category 3 storms have winds of 111 to 130 mph.

Tallahassee can expect such a storm once every 500 years. Other high-risk areas were Port St. Lucie, Key West and Cape Coral. The Panhandle, Panama City and Pensacola were a bit less susceptible to wind. While Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville joined Tallahassee as cities that are the least vulnerable.

The list has irritated real estate agents and developers in several of the “at-risk” cities. But the State of Florida is only about 100 miles wide and the reality is that you are paying high insurance rates anywhere in the state because of your risk for a hurricane. In exchange, you expect your insurance company to deal fairly with you in the event that a claim is necessary. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Our Miami insurance claims lawyers urge anyone faced with filing a significant claim to enlist the help of a qualified attorney.

The university’s Hurricane Risk Calculator is a statistic model based on the extreme value theory — that is a theory used to estimate the occurrence of extreme events such as hurricanes Andrew and Katrina. Researchers used wind speed data from the National Hurricane Center dating back to 1851. The researchers said the risk calculator could provide important information to emergency planners, the insurance industry and homeowners.

They said Florida has sustained more than $450 billion in hurricane damages in the last century.

Florida’s top 12 population areas in order of vulnerability:

1. Miami
2. Port St. Lucie
3. Key West
4. Cape Coral
5. Sarasota
6. Pensacola
7. Panama City
8. Daytona Beach
9. Orlando
10. Tampa
11. Jacksonville
12. Tallahassee
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If you are facing a dispute over an insurance claim in South Florida, contact Alvarez & Barbara, LLP toll free at 866-518-2913 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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