Hurricane Irene in 1999 produced 10 to 20 inches of rain across Florida, and caused eight deaths by electrocution and $800 million in damage; Hurricane Rita, which reached a Category 5 in 2005, devastated communities from southwestern Louisiana to eastern Texas and Alabama. It also caused floods due to storm surges in parts of the Florida Keyes. Rita ended up causing $12 billion of damage in the Gulf Coast, with an estimated 2.5-3.7 million people having to evacuate, and between 90 and 118 deaths. Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane also in 2005, caused nearly $100 billion of damage, with approximately 80% of New Orleans covered under water. Nearly 300,000 homes were made uninhabitable and an estimated 1,833 people died directly or indirectly died from Katrina; Mississippi had 238 fatalities.

The stats are staggering, both in economic, property and human loss as to what can happen when a hurricane hits. According to the National Hurricane Center, along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane, including marinas, boats, yachts, etc. In confined harbors, in fact, the combination of storm tides, waves, and currents can also severely damage marinas and boats.

During Hurricane Katrina, for example, the estimated value of damages to Mississippi municipal and commercial marinas located in the three coastal counties reached $41.38 million. Individual

damages reported by those participating marinas in a study conducted by Mississippi University ranged from $800,000 to $5,392,000, with an average of $1.11 million per marina and standard deviation of $1.49 million per marina. Approximately 80% of the reported damages involved buildings, slips, and storage facilities.

Critical in helping to reduce direct or indirect damage as a result of a storm is to implement a well-thought-out emergency action plan that includes actions before, during and after a hurricane. Here we will discuss what to do before hurricane season.

Before Hurricane Season

  • Have a formal plan in place and provide the plan to your employees.
  • Assign responsibilities during a hurricane, including those who are responsible for the physical plant, equipment and housekeeping. Designate team leaders and critical personnel. Be sure to update the contact information regularly so everyone knows whom to reach.
  • Review the plan with co-tenants and subcontractors.
  • Size inventory and orders during hurricane season to minimize loss.
  • Anticipate the amount of inventory of vessels that the facility will have during hurricane season (permanent, transient, new or brokered); plan to secure the inventory at your facility or move inland.
  • For those vessels stored on land cradle or have 4 to 6 jack stands chained together with bases to protect them from shifting or sinking; secure with lines or web straps to ground screws or preset concrete eyes;
  • For those non-owned vessels in your care, custody or control at your facility or elsewhere, be sure to provide your hurricane plan to vessel owners.
  • Request that vessel owners file hurricane plans.
  • Be sure you have the contact information of all vessels, owners or designated representatives, captains and caretakers. This should include their home, work and cell number and address during hurricane season.
  • Conduct a complete facility housekeeping audit.
  • Stock emergency equipment and supplies, including extra mooring lines, lumber for fender boards, chafing gear, screw anchors, flashlights, batteries, portable generators, electrical and manual bilge pumps, hull patching and repair supplies.

In future articles, we will also discuss what steps to take as a hurricane approaches and what measures are necessary right after a hurricane to help protect marinas and its vessels from severe damage and loss. Critical also to being prepared is having the proper marine insurance.

For more information on Yacht Club Insurance, visit Merrimac Insurance

In the Eye of a Storm: Emergency Preparedness for Yacht Clubs, Marinas
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