Volume 2 Number 35
August 29, 2005

Consumer Services HelpLine Number 800-342-2762

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 TALLAHASSEE-Florida’s State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher said two dozen law enforcement officers from the State Fire Marshal’s Office are heading to Pensacola today to help with recovery efforts in the wake of hurricane Katrina.  They will be joining officers from the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Compliance Program. 

“It is heartbreaking to see the people of Northwest Florida suffering all over again,” said Gallagher.  “Helping the people of Pensacola and surrounding areas affected by Katrina is our first priority.  In addition, we will offer any addition resources available to help our neighbors along the Gulf Coast.  We know firsthand what the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are going through right now, and I know all Floridians join me in sending our thoughts and prayers out to them.”

As State Fire Marshal, Gallagher is responsible for mobilizing search and rescue efforts at the state Emergency Operations Center during an emergency.  In addition to personnel already heading to Pensacola, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is coordinating the mobilization of search and rescue teams from around Florida to the Panhandle area.

Gallagher also said the Division of Consumer Services is on standby to send insurance consumer specialists if needed to assist consumers with contacting their insurance companies and filing claims.  And law enforcement officers with the Division of Insurance Fraud also are gearing up to respond if necessary.

With reports of more than 80,000 Escambia County residents now without power, and more than 300,000 South Florida residents still without power, Gallagher is continuing to urge Floridians follow these safety tips after the storm.

  • If you use a generator, keep it outside and in a well-ventilated area because generators produce carbon monoxide.  If you put it in the garage, keep the garage door open.

  • Beware of downed power lines, especially near water- to avoid risk of electrocution.

  • If your house is damaged, shut electricity off at the breakers.

  • Do not drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads.  If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.  Water only two feet deep can sweep away most cars.

The department’s hurricane hotline, at 1-800-22-STORM, has been activated to help with questions and assist consumers in filing a claim.

Night falls over the 1908 Lafayette County courthouse in Mayo, the county seat.  The two-story frame building across the street was an earlier courthouse. The county was formed in 1856 and named after the French marquis who assisted the colonies during the Revolutionary War.