TROPICAL STORM ARLENE THREATENED GULF COAST
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher urged residents along the Gulf Coast to get ready for a possible strike by Tropical Storm Arlene last weekend. Gallagher mobilized consumer specialists with the Department of Financial Services to assist any residents impacted by the storm.
“Thousands of Floridians are still waiting for repairs to be made from the 2004 hurricanes and I’m deeply concerned that this tropical storm will inflict further damage,” said Gallagher, who oversees the department. “Floridians in the Panhandle have shown incredible resilience and strength since Ivan devastated their communities. Our department stands ready to assist them in any way we can.”
Gallagher also advised that residents can contact the department’s toll-free storm line at 1-800-22-STORM with insurance questions or for assistance with filing claims should a storm hit.
The National Hurricane Center reported Friday that a tropical storm warning was in effect for the Dry Tortugas and the Gulf Coast. A tropical storm warning means that heavy rains and winds up to 74 mph are possible in the area. Residents should also be on alert for inland flooding.
Gallagher recommends that property owners take the following actions in the event of severe weather damage:
Buy the materials you need to secure your property and minimize your losses. Cover your windows with shutters, siding or plywood. Move vehicles into a garage or carport when possible. Grills and/or patio furniture should be moved inside.
If you need cash, consider withdrawing what you need because ATMs and financial institutions cannot do transactions when the electricity is out.
If your home is damaged or is currently awaiting repairs, take steps to protect your home from further damage and document the current state of your home with photos or video.
Keep receipts of all repairs for reimbursement by your insurance company.
Immediately report property damage or any additional damage to your insurance agent and company.
Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company. If you must evacuate, let your agent or insurance company know your temporary forwarding address and phone number.
Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed and reputable service and repair people.
If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that the adjuster is licensed by calling the department’s toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-22-STORM, or 1-800-227-8676.
In the event of severe damage, adjusters may contact policyholders to help with the filing of insurance or supplemental insurance claims. Adjusters must be licensed by the state and should be able to present a copy of their license.
For more hurricane preparation tips, visit the Department of Financial Services’ web site at www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
Sarasota County courthouse was built in 1925 and was praised as one of the most artistic public buildings in the United States.