Volume 1 Number 38
September 20, 2004


This weekend as I toured the storm-ravaged beaches and communities around Pensacola, I saw a house – battered from Hurricane Ivan – with this message outlined on its roof: 

“We love Pensacola.” 

That kind of spirit will be the glue that puts those communities back together and will help individuals to get through the heartache and loss.   

It appears that every structure has suffered damage, and in many cases where there was a home there is now just a slab.   Numerous roads and bridges are heavily damaged, making it a true challenge to transport food, water, ice and other assistance.   

Our northwest Panhandle neighbors, like those who are cleaning up after hurricanes Charley and Frances, have suffered an incredibly hard hit.   But I also saw good things:  neighbors helping each other and a great deal of patience, resilience, and determination.   The cleanup has begun, relief items are being flown in, and electricity is being turned back on in many places. 

It’s hard to imagine now, but I have faith that Pensacola and all of the hard-hit communities throughout Florida will come back stronger than ever.

 Yours in service,

(Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

(Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)

DFS Pensacola mobile unit a ‘one-stop shop’ for most policyholders filing claims

 Following weekend tours of storm-damaged areas in Pensacola, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher today announced an insurance “super-center” at the Department of Financial Services’ mobile headquarters in Pensacola.  Consumers visiting the location will have access to state consumer specialists and customer service representatives from most major insurance companies. 

“Pensacola residents with property damage now have a ‘one-stop shop’ to file insurance claims and get answers to insurance questions and concerns,” Gallagher said.  CONTINUED






Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who toured panhandle counties affected by Hurricane Ivan, has mobilized the Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Response Unit to assist storm victims in filing insurance claims and quickly resolving insurance problems.

“Though storm victims are still focusing on the immediate needs of food, water and shelter, we stand ready to help with the rebuilding process,” said Gallagher.  “It’s my job to make sure insurance claims are paid quickly, that adjusters meet with homeowners in a timely manner and that no one takes advantage of Floridians coping with Ivan’s aftermath.” 

The department’s Mobile Response Unit will be arriving in Pensacola , and consumer specialists will begin canvassing damaged areas.  It will center operations at the University Mall, 7171 North Davis Hwy., in Pensacola.  Available on the mobile unit are satellite and cellular phones, computers and other information resources to allow staff to assist victims immediately, in their communities.  The unit will also help insurance agents and adjusters locate policyholders.  CONTINUED




Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is asking lenders to offer a compassionate response to Floridians dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Charley and Frances, including eliminating fees for lending transactions and granting loan payment extensions to affected customers.
“I’m asking financial service companies to reach out to help the thousands of storm victims,” Gallagher said.  “When disaster strikes, we must all stand together to help those in need, and I’m proud to partner with Florida’s lending industry in getting our citizens on the road to recovery.”

Gallagher offered the following suggestions for lenders assisting borrowers who are in the process of rebuilding after the storms.  Within prudent lending guidelines, lenders should recognize individual circumstances and consider the following:  CONTINUED




Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal, today offered an update on search and rescue efforts and thanked emergency responders for their crucial, life-saving actions.

“Our initial response to major disaster is critical when lives are at stake,” said Gallagher, who oversees the Department of Financial Services.  “The jobs of first responders are a reminder of why we’re here - to help Floridians in their time of need.”

The State Fire Marshal’s Office, which is responsible for mobilizing search and rescue efforts from the state Emergency Operations Center during an emergency, has since Thursday been activated to assist Floridians coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.  Currently, the office is coordinating four FEMA urban search and rescue teams, six state search and rescue teams and 40 teams of firefighters with equipment available to assist local emergency responders.   CONTINUED




Here's how "flood" is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program:

"A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder's property) from:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
  • Mudflow; or
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above."

So, in plain English, a flood is an excess of water (or mud) on land that's normally dry.

Floods often happen when bodies of water overflow or tides rise due to heavy rainfall or thawing snow. But you don't have to live near water to be at risk of flooding. A flash flood, which can strike anywhere without warning, occurs when a large volume of rain falls within a short time. CONTINUED





If you need to finance your home repairs, and a mortgage or lien will be placed against your property, use this checklist prior to signing any contract!

Determine if your contractor is:
1. A Florida licensed contractor (Contact Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation 1-850-487-1395)
2. Licensed as a Home Improvement Finance Seller (Contact Office of Financial Regulation 1-800-342-2762)
(Note: Financial Institutions - banks and credit unions are exempt from licensure.)

Remember:  When financing your home improvements,
1. YOU are entitled to a copy of the contract at the time that you sign it.  CONTINUED