Tornadoes are usually associated with Midwestern states like Oklahoma or Kansas, but those of us who live in Florida also have reasons to be concerned about twisters. The amount of tornadoes reported in Florida is actually higher than any other state, and the storms occur in various locations all across the state. Tornadoes have been known to hit as far north as Jacksonville and as far south as the Florida Keys. The high winds associated with these tornadoes are sometimes more powerful than hurricanes, and can cause serious damage to your home and property.
The weather conditions in Florida make it easy for tornadoes to form. In order to get going and gain steam, a tornado needs certain weather conditions, including high wind shear and the presence of several air masses that collide in the sky. The climate in Florida means that these elements are often present. The intense thunderstorms that typically develop in the hot summer months can help a tornado develop and gain power. Waterspouts, the tornados that take shape over the surface of a body of water, can often be seen off Florida’s Atlantic coast. These waterspouts typically don’t pose a threat to residences, but can cause damage to boats and any boaters who may get caught in one while sailing.
By far, the strong winds of a tornado cause the most property damage. With winds that can measure more than 200 miles an hour, a tornado can easily pick up trees, cars, and other debris and slam them into homes and commercial structures. Manufactured homes, even those equipped with tie downs, often end up overturned by tornado winds. These winds also often destroy power lines and plumbing systems, causing fires and flooding that can create secondary damage.
Once a tornado has left your area, you can begin to assess the damage done to your property. If your area was evacuated prior to the tornado hitting, wait until it is deemed safe to return, and do not enter your home or any building where the structure seems to be damaged. If it is safe to enter your home, make sure you wear closed toed shoes or rubber boots and watch carefully where you step.
Begin by checking your electrical, gas and plumbing systems for any obvious damages. Next, look for any damages that may allow secondary damage to occur, such as:
As the homeowner, the terms of your policy are likely to state that you are responsible for protecting the home from any secondary damage until permanent repairs can be made. However, before you make any changes or temporary repairs, it’s important to fully document the damage that has occurred. Take photos or videos showing the damage from multiple angles to show to your insurer, and reach out to an experienced public adjuster to get expert advice on how to ensure your claim will be paid.