Volume 3 Number 24
June 12, 2006

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FLORIDIANS MUST PREPARE FOR TS ALBERTO

Floridians will begin feeling storm’s impact today

Tom Gallagher, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, is urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to stay alert to news regarding the path of Tropical Storm Alberto and quickly complete preparations for strong winds expected later today with landfall projected tomorrow afternoon near the Taylor-Dixie County Line.

“Our experience over the past two years has highlighted the urgency of being prepared,” Gallagher said. “Take steps now to prepare and to protect your family and home.”

Gallagher said the winds could extend as much as 230 miles from the center, impacting residents along the coast as far south as Manatee County and as far west as Mexico Beach. Maximum winds are currently forecast at about 75 mph.

In the event of heavy storm damage, Gallagher will oversee the fire and rescue operations at the state’s Emergency Operations Center and will deploy staff to assist with rescue and recovery.

The Department of Financial Services’ storm hotline is activated, 1-800-22STORM, to assist residents in preparing for a storm as well as dealing with damage after a storm. The department’s website at www.MyFloridaCFO.com also contains a wealth of information to assist consumers in getting ready for a storm and dealing with the potential aftermath. The website includes a Hurricane Toolkit, an Insurance Checklist, and answers to common insurance questions.

Gallagher also commended the Governor and Legislature for approving a Hurricane Preparation Tax Free Holiday at the end of June that is estimated to have saved Floridians as much $41 million in sales taxes on items they needed to get ready for the 2006 hurricane season. Hurricane season continues until November 30.

Gallagher recommends property owners take these actions before a storm:

  • Monitor news for storm information and evacuation orders.
    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.

  • Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers. Photograph or videotape your possessions. Keep copies of this information and your insurance policies in a safe place and keep the originals in a safe deposit box.

  • Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company, which may differ from your agent’s contact information. Keep this information in a safe place and make sure you have access to it if you are forced to evacuate your home.

  • Be sure you know what your deductible is for hurricane losses.

In the event of damage, Gallagher recommends that you:

  • Keep materials such as plywood and plastic on hand in case you need to make temporary repairs after a storm. Keep receipts for those repairs so that your insurance company can reimburse you.

  • Never use a generator indoors or in any enclosed area including a garage, carport or sunroom.

  • Avoid using candles and do not use a candle or lantern near a generator or stored fuel.

  • Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage and repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.

  • Immediately report property damage to your insurance agent and company. \

  • Maintain copies of your household inventory and other documentation, including photos. This will assist the adjuster in assessing the value of the destroyed property.

  • Take precautions if the damage requires you to leave your home. 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 people.

  • If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that they are licensed by calling the department’s storm hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.

  • Be sure you understand how much a public insurance adjuster is charging and what services are included before signing any contract.

For more hurricane preparation tips, visit the Department of Financial Services’ web site at www.MyFloridaCFO.com, and click on Hurricane Season 2006.

“Preparedness is the best defense,” Gallagher said.