Miracle March Means Madness For Many

by Mark Goldwich

Forecasters predicted El Nino storms could drench the Western US in general, and California in particular, calling for a “Miracle March” that could ease the current drought conditions there. And halfway through March, it looks like they might be – predictably – partially correct.

"This is going to put a dent into some of the drought, but it's not going to take it away by any stretch," San Diego-based meteorologist Mark Moede told NBC News earlier this month. But according to Erik Ortiz of www.nbcnews.com, “the return of the storms this month in parts of California has drawn parallels to 1991, when a "miracle March" that brought record rains staved off a water shortage. It was also credited with saving the ski season.”

Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
In the first week of March, heavy rainstorms struck California and flooded some low-lying areas, but much more rain would be needed throughout the state to counter years of dry weather. In the second week of March, another round of rains helped replenish water reservoirs, and above-average snowfall has extended California’s expected ski season beyond any of the last several years, but it is still too soon to tell if this will be enough.

And while rain and snow is certainly good for California as a whole with regards to drought relief and snow-related industries, each storm brings disaster to many individuals. During any significant rainstorm event, low-lying areas tend to flood rather quickly. It may be that only 100 homes and businesses are affected, and this may not even make local news, let alone the national news (especially in the midst of a wild presidential election cycle), but for those 100 families, their entire world has turned to mud.

Keep in mind, also, that during most severe rainstorms, there are high winds, hail, and even tornados that come with the many inches of rainfall. Throw in a few mudslides on California hillsides, and you have the makings of a disastrous “Miracle March” for many unsuspecting property owners. The storms so far have not been devastating, but streets have been washed out by floods, highways closed by mudslides – one such slide toppled a dump truck in the process – and homes have also been flooded or damaged by mudslides. The uncomfortable paradox is that much more rain is needed to make an appreciable impact on the drought conditions, but such rains would also bring misery to ever-increasing numbers of people.
Image courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Having dealt with so many individuals and families suffering through property insurance claims from rainstorms and flooding, I know how difficult it is to recover. Homes are damaged or destroyed, personal belongings are ruined, people are separated and displaced from their homes, and dealing with all the insurance hoops, exclusions, loopholes, and delays can bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “March Madness”.

As always, it’s important to know they can recover, and they will recover. The question is, at what cost? How much aggravation will they have to endure? How much money will they recover – or how much debt will they have to take on? Typically, the answers to those questions depend on what they know, and how well prepared are they are to take on this challenge. I always say, the better prepared you are before disaster strikes, the better you will emerge from the disaster. This goes from having a disaster plan (before it happens), to having a recovery plan (after it happens).

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One thing is for sure, the insurance companies all have plans. And systems. And strategies. And resources. For you to compete, you need to have these plans in place as well, even if it just means knowing who has the plans, systems, strategies and resources to help you.

Mark Goldwich is president of Gold Star Adjusters, a group of public insurance adjusters dedicated to helping citizens get the maximum settlement for any insurance claim.