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When Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters recede, safety should remain top of mind

August 30, 2017

Zurich’s teams are on the ground in Texas guiding customers on safety in the record rainfall...

Jason Sauer

Regional Executive – South Region

Jason Sauer is the Regional Executive for the South Region for Zurich North America. In this role,... About this expert


As Texans raft through their streets and Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath dominates national news, recovery seems almost as unimaginable as the devastation that this storm unleashed.

Recovery will come. From my home base in Houston, I have seen firsthand how resourceful and resilient our citizens are. I have no doubt that they will rise over these floodwaters and rebuild.

They will have Zurich’s support on the ground. At first landfall of Harvey, Zurich dispatched Claims Catastrophe Operations and Risk Engineering teams to Texas to work with local and federal agencies and help our customers and brokers stay safe, as well as identify and file claims.

Many difficult weeks and months lie ahead. We all want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, but not at the expense of safety or long-term resiliency. And we do not want to compound the problems by creating fire risks on top of the damage caused by the wind or flooding.

My colleague Jim Breitkreitz, Executive Technical Director of Risk Engineering, points out that repairs likely will involve cutting and welding – very common sources of ignition. It is also very possible that fire detection or protection systems may be impaired.

“If this ‘hot’ work begins without proper precautions,” he said, “we run the risk of another unwanted event.”

Zurich’s Risk Engineers offer tips to help residents and business owners do an initial assessment of property losses. A Zurich Risk Topic guide includes points to keep in mind once authorities say Texans can cautiously return to properties that have been damaged by floods and winds.

While recovery from Harvey poses challenges, it also affords opportunities to repair properties in ways that make them less susceptible to future damage.

After all, Harvey won’t be the last storm to trigger a flood. Texas is home to more than trillion of insured coastal properties vulnerable to hurricanes, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Only New York and Florida are ranked higher.

As Texas marshals its strength of will to move forward, Zurich will continue to help communities enhance their long-term resiliency. Check back often for more guidance on the long road ahead.