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      Study: Hail Damage from Hidalgo Largest in State in 2012

      As the threat for severe weather grows, so does the fear of a damaging event. Back on March 29th, 2012, baseball sized hail unexpectedly fell from a super cell thunderstorm central Hidalgo County. One year later, new numbers from a study conducted by All State Insurance show the gravity of the damage reflected by the increase in insurance claims.

      "It was actually a little over 7,000% change from 2011 to 2012," says George Garza, an agent with All State Insurance. According to their survey, Hidalgo County was number one in hail and wind related homeowner insurance claims in 2012. They were closely followed by counties in North Texas including Dallas and Lubbock, which meteorologically speaking tend to be the stormiest. But ultimately, Garza says timing is everything.

      If you look at the top 10 you'll see north, south, east, and west Texas on there, so it's not really a matter of where, it's when, said Garza. Barry Goldsmith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Brownsville agrees.

      But he adds that when it comes down to estimated cost of damage, The location made all the difference. The core of the most devastating hail was in north McAllen." Goldsmith says socio-economic status plays a defining role. With home prices in this area estimated at 90-175 thousand dollars a year, homeowners had a lot more to lose.

      "Now the home is very valuable, and they have contents valued at 250-500 thousand dollars, artwork, furniture, housing, infrastructure, that can quickly build up millions versus hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage," adds Goldsmith. Now that Hidalgo County residents have seen the worst, they sit back and watch the radar, hoping lightning doesn TMt strike twice.

      Goldsmith and Garza say there are pro-active steps you can take to make sure your property and life are protected.

      They recommend safety first. Have a safety plan in place so you know where to go at a moment TMs notice. Also, keep an emergency kit handy that includes water, food for several days, medication, and other necessary items. Second, review your insurance policy to make sure you are covered for wind and hail damage. In addition, create an inventory of your personal belongings in your home. That includes video and photographs.