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Tornado Season Causing Havoc

Posted on May 4, 2011

NYC at less risk, but not immune

Think you’re safe from tornadoes in New York City?

Think again.

They’re rare, but they happen — and, weirdly, they’ve happened a couple of times in the last year. In September, a storm that included two tornadoes roared across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, killing a woman. Less than two months before, on July 25, a funnel cloud touched down in The Bronx and zipped through Riverdale with 100-mph winds, knocking over small trees and utility poles. The NYC tornado before that, in August 2007, ripped through Staten Island and southwestern Brooklyn with 135-mph winds. In all, according to the National Weather Service, seven tornadoes have been confirmed in the city since 1974.

Brooklyn resident surveys tornado damage

OK, so the chances of your sustaining severe damage from a twister in the Tri-State area are pretty slim. You’ll likely go the rest of your life without seeing anything like the horrifying tornadoes that churned through Alabama and other Southeastern states recently. But springtime usually brings the most severe weather, and tornadoes aren’t the only weather systems that can wreck homes and property.

Thunderstorms can cause extreme damage over a much broader area, and homeowners, renters and apartmentowners ought to double-check their policies to make sure they’re covered for wind and other storm-related damage. Thankfully, most policies cover that kind of damage; but policyholders should check with their brokers to make sure the policy covers the cost of repairing the structure, replacing lost or damaged items and what’s known as additional living expenses (ALE). Those are hotel bills, meals and other expenses people incur while their damaged homes are being repaired.

The important thing here is to make sure you have a good record of your belongings and their worth; it’s why a home inventory is so important. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has some excellent tornado-related information here. If a tornado damages or destroys your residence, the best thing to do is compile for the insurance adjuster as much specific information as possible on the value of what’s been lost. Take photographs, especially digital photographs, and video of the site; prepare an inventory; collect cancelled checks, receipts, invoices and other papers; and save receipts from any expenses related to temporary home repair or additional living expenses.

It’s not pleasant to think about, but homeowners and renters need to face the possibility. You don’t have to go at it alone, though. We at Gotham Brokerage can help you take stock of your home and belongings and make sure you have the right amount of coverage to see you through the worst of storms.
Photo: New York Times