Tag Archives: Severe Weather

Reducing Tornado Damage


It’s that time of the year again…when the risk of a tornado increases. Many in West Michigan experienced damaging storms this past weekend with sustained winds rivaling an EF-0 (75-85 mph). Many thought it had to have been a tornado that ripped through Muskegon and Northern Kent Counties, but it was confirmed to be strong straight line winds by the National Weather Service. Nevertheless, this strong Spring storm produced widespread damage and left about 100,000 without power.


Muskegon Airport April 12, 2014. Photo Credit: Fox 17 News
Muskegon Airport April 12, 2014. Photo Credit: Fox 17 News


About 1,000 tornadoes occur each year in the United States, causing an average of 80 deaths and $1.1 billion in property damage. Tornadoes vary in intensity and the accompanying damage can result in everything from minor repairs to complete destruction. Most tornadoes are relatively weak and therefore primarily damage roofs, windows and trees. While only 2% of tornadoes achieve the most violent and damaging classification (EF5), 25% of tornadoes are powerful enough to cause 67% of the deaths and 90% of the damage. An EF5 tornado can generate maximum wind speeds of greater than 250 mph, which is enough to destroy most buildings and structures in its path. These maximum wind speeds generate forces that are about twice as strong as those generated by the strongest hurricanes.


Watches and Warnings

A tornado watch is a caution indicating a high probability of tornadoes within an area approximately 250 miles long and 120 miles wide.


A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted on the ground in your county or is moving toward your county, or that weather radar indicates a high probability of a tornado existing.


While the following precautions focus specifically on tornado risks, many will also help protect those of you who live outside of tornado-prone regions from other types of high wind and thunderstorm-related weather risks.


Assess the Likelihood of a Tornado Striking Your Area

Is the area where you live and work prone to tornadoes? Knowing what tornado risks are present is essential for choosing the appropriate mix of measures to protect you and your family. If you are located in an area with a heightened tornado risk, you should review the following steps and take the necessary precautions to minimize your risk of tornado damage:


Protect Your Family and Employees

– Prepare and disseminate an emergency plan describing what everyone should do when a tornado threatens. Practice these procedures through tornado drills.

– Purchase a weather radio with local discrimination capability. Monitor weather conditions so everyone can be moved to secure locations when necessary.

– Have an adequate source of weather information, such as a tone alert weather radio, to keep abreast of weather conditions.

– Have someone monitor local radar and warning information during a tornado watch and especially if a tornado warning has been issued for the area.

– Keep exterior doors and windows closed to minimize rain and flying debris. Closing interior doors will also help to compartmentalize the building and provide more barriers between occupants and the storm.

– Select the best protective area for everyone to seek shelter. Basements are usually considered a good area, as are corridors and small interior rooms on the first floor of a structure.

– Never shelter anyone in rooms where there is an outside wall, particularly those with glass windows, or where the ceiling or roof has a span between supports of more than 40 feet.

– If your building does not provide adequate protection and you are located in a tornado-prone area, work with a contractor to harden a section of your facility or build a safe room.

*Safe Rooms: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and International Code Council (ICC) offer shelter guidelines.

– Make provisions to shelter everyone in portable outbuildings and those operating trucks and other vehicles off premises.

Protect Your Property

Wind-resistant construction can be cost effective and minimize the risk of structural damage for the majority of tornadoes, particularly damage from weak to moderate tornadoes, hail and wind associated with thunderstorms, and even to buildings on the edge of strong or violent tornadoes.

Minimize the Threats From Wind-Borne Debris

– Identify and remove trees and branches that could fall on your buildings or power lines.

– Inspect and repair loose or damaged building components such as siding, soffit and fascia, shingles and roofing, brickwork, and brick chimneys.

– Avoid using built-up roofs with aggregate or pavers on the surface.

For further information on tornadoes, safe rooms and more, visit the website: www.DisasterSafety.org/tornado

Don’t Fear Your Insurance Company When Disaster Strikes

Grange Insurance Hi Res VersionWith storm season here, Grange Insurance reminds families independent agents are here to help.

Spring weather means dusting off your sandals and gardening equipment, and spending more time outside enjoying the sunshine. But for many in the Midwest, it also means the beginning of a harsher weather forecast – tornado season.

Those who have the potential to face a tornado this spring need to be prepared so they can ensure their own safety, their family’s safety, and the safety of their finances and personal property. Columbus, Ohio-based Grange Insurance offers tips to prepare for and get through the worst should a tornado hit.


1. Prepare a plan, and practice together.

Develop a tornado plan, and hold regular drills so your family is ready in the event of severe weather.

“Know a safe place where you can take shelter away from windows,” said John Ammendola, president of personal lines, Grange Insurance. “Store supplies in that area, such as flashlights, a radio, protective coverings, non-perishable food items and batteries.”

As a final part of the plan, make sure to designate a family meeting spot where all should gather after the storm in case of separation.


2. Call your independent agent as soon as possible.

The first thing on your mind is likely the safety of your family. Once you’ve made sure everyone is safe, call your independent agent. Be sure to have your policy number and details regarding the damage ready when you call.

“Though it may be a difficult moment, your independent agent is there to help and make sure that you get the proper claim reimbursement from the damage caused during the storm,” said Ammendola. “When you speak with your agent, work with him or her to make a list of all the damaged items you’ve identified.”

“Following a tornado, salvaging undamaged items will also help protect your property from further damage, once local authorities determine your house is safe to enter,” said Ammendola.


3. Communication is a two-way street.

Though your agent is not a medical or law enforcement authority, he or she has experience dealing with natural disasters, and is there to help you through it even before you call.

“We have outpost and claims centers which make it easier to come to you quickly,” said Ammendola. “in the meantime, take advantage of social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook, if you need help locating missing loved ones or friends.”

According to Ammendola, Grange uses specialized mapping technology to pinpoint where the concentration of damage occurred. The carrier sends alerts to independent agents in the area to contact their policyholders. Often, agents are on-site or have called customers even before the policyholder has had a chance to contact his or her agent.

“It is also important to remember that communication is a two-way street,” said Ammendola. “Just as an independent agent will work quickly to respond to your claims, you should respond to claim inquiries as soon as possible. This will ensure your claim is handled quickly, and the process to rebuild or repair is started immediately.”


4. Keep your receipts.

If your house is unlivable following a storm, temporary housing is a must. Depending on your policy, your independent agent may be able to assist you so the burden doesn’t rest on your pockets.

“Keep receipts for all expenses you incur while in temporary housing,” said Ammendola. “Your homeowners and auto insurance policies likely cover the cost of hotel rooms, meals, clothing, auto rental, and personal items, depending on the level of damage. If you’re unsure what your policy covers, now is a good time as any to call your agent to make sure your have the proper level of coverage before a tornado strikes.”

For more information about disaster recovery and claims, visit www.grangeinsurance.com or call your independent agent today.


*Don’t forget about the Tornado App brought to you by the American Red Cross. Read about it here in a previous post.


About Grange

Grange Insurance, with $2 billion in assets and in excess of $1 billion in annual revenue, is an insurance provider based in Columbus, Ohio. Through its network of independent agents, Grange offers auto, home, life and business insurance protection. Established in 1935, the company and its affiliates serve policyholders in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Fore more information, visit www.grangeinsurance.com.