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WINDY TEACHER TAUGHT SOME TOUGH LESSONS

 HARTFORD, Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Secure your lawn furniture. Fill the bathtub with water. Board up windows and doors, in the event of a hurricane, advises Jack Brady, director of catastrophe planning for ITT Hartford Insurance Group.
 Such advice on preparing for a hurricane is published frequently or broadcast from June to November, the season for these formidable storms. Tips on ensuring personal safety and protecting property are definitely helpful, as many residents of hurricane-prone areas can testify.
 Last year, however, Hurricane Andrew threw a punch so destructive that it defied the preparations of those directly in its path.
 What do you do when the fury of a killer storm is headed straight for you?
 "Leave immediately if you're in the direct path of a hurricane," says Brady.
 "Stay tuned to news about the storm, and be prepared to evacuate -- without delay! -- if evacuation is ordered." counsels Brady. "Be aware of possible escape routes. If you live in an extremely vulnerable area, you might want to get out even before evacuation orders are given."
 Evacuate, agree Miami residents Marilyn Powell and Georgia Shaw, both ITT Hartford policyholders. The two women and their families stayed in their homes during Hurricane Andrew. Both say they'd never repeat the experience.
 "It was awful. It was devastating," says Powell. "I've lived in this area for years, and we know what to do when a hurricane hits, but you can't do much to protect yourself against the kind of winds we experienced." Powell has been told that wind speeds in her neighborhood, possibly caused by hurricane-spawned tornadoes, approached 200 m.p.h.
 "We started to wait out the storm in our bedroom," she says, "but when the roof came down, we closed ourselves in a closet and stayed there for five hours. I really thought we were going to die.
 "Everyone in this neighborhood stayed in their homes because Andrew wasn't expected to hit that hard here," Powell explains. "Now we all feel the same way. If another major storm is predicted, we'll get out."
 Georgia Shaw says Andrew taught her the same lesson.
 "In 30 years of living in Miami, I've heard a lot of hurricane warnings," says Shaw. "Since nothing terrible had ever happened, most of us thought the media was crying 'wolf' in their coverage of Andrew."
 Shaw's family had boarded up their windows and thought they would be safe huddled in a hallway. When the windows blew in, however, the wind inside the house was so strong, they had to form a human chain to crawl into the bathroom. Only their feet braced against the bathroom door kept it from blowing in.
 "It was a terrifying experience," says Shaw. "I would never do it again."
 Having survived Andrew, many area residents have learned another difficult lesson: The aftermath of a major hurricane is extremely stressful, frustrating and disorienting. A year later, they're still struggling to get their property -- and their lives -- in order.
 Shaw feels that she was fortunate that her insurance adjustor settled part of her claim immediately after the storm. "With capital available, I was able to replace my windows and get my roof fixed," she says. "At least I could protect what was left from further damage."
 The sounds of construction crews provide background noise as Miami homeowner Judy Kirshner describes some of the problems she has encountered in the rebuilding process.
 "Nobody expected rebuilding to be so long and so stressful, and people were in shock at the magnitude of the job," Kirshner says. "To add to the frustration, the incredible demand for construction crews led to some incidents where people were really exploited. They were charged top dollar but got poor-quality work."
 Powell points out that the damage from a disaster like Andrew affects more than property. The institutions, routines and services people depend on may be shattered in the aftermath as well. Her church, for instance, was destroyed by the storm. Such losses add to the trauma people experience.
 "The rebuilding experience has been hard on people," says Kirshner. "Nobody was prepared for this kind of drawn-out stress. There's really not much you can do about it except help each other out as much as possible."
 There's no question that dealing with the effects of a major hurricane can be agonizingly difficult. Still, says Brady, the damage can be minimized by taking the appropriate steps when a hurricane is approaching and in its aftermath. Most important, heed the tips on evacuation so injury to yourself or your family isn't added to the problems you confront.
 Here are key tips ITT Hartford has developed from more than 25 years of tracking and evaluating hurricane devastation.
 No matter what the forecast, there are things you should always do:
 -- Know where your insurance policies are; have an inventory of your
 possessions; and have your valuables insured.
 -- Know your insurer's telephone number for reporting a claim.
 When a hurricane watch is issued, which means a hurricane could hit your area within 36 hours, do the following things immediately:
 -- Begin listening to your local television and radio stations that
 are monitoring the storm. Have a portable radio or television in
 case you lose power.
 -- Check your medical supplies.
 -- Secure all outdoor furniture and other items.
 -- Make sure your car's gas tank is full and parked in a garage or
 an open space.
 -- Have an adequate supply of non-perishable food, matches,
 batteries and candles.
 When a hurricane warning is issued, which means the storm is expected within 24 hours, do the following:
 -- If you live in a mobile home, tie it down and leave immediately.
 If you have a boat on a trailer, tie down the trailer and fill
 the boat with water to weigh it down.
 -- Wedge sliding glass doors; board windows and doors; tape exposed
 glass to reduce shattering.
 -- Fill bathtub with water.
 -- If you stay home, continue to watch television or listen to the
 radio.
 If evacuation is the best solution:
 -- Leave immediately and take basic supplies, including a first-aid
 kit, non-perishable food, bottled water and necessary medication.
 Take important papers, including your auto and homeowners
 policies, and your insurer's phone number.
 Once the hurricane is over:
 -- If you left home, let your insurer know where to reach you.
 -- Don't return to your home until authorities say it's okay.
 -- Notify your insurance company immediately of any damage.
 -- Keep receipts for all temporary repairs and cover exposed or
 leaky roofs.
 -- Watch for downed power lines and tree limbs.
 -- If you lose power, unplug major appliances and television.
 -- During a power outage, open refrigerator as little as possible.
 Keep freezer closed.
 -0- 8/27/93
 /CONTACT: Connie Gurney, 203-547-6237, or Sue Honeyman, 203-547-4976, both of ITT Hartford/


CO: ITT Hartford ST: Connecticut; Florida IN: INS SU:

JL -- NEFNS1 -- 6464 08/27/93 07:32 EDT
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Date:Aug 27, 1993
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