GALLAGHER: SOUTH FLORIDIANS MUST PREPARE
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging residents and visitors from Jupiter to the Florida Keys and up to Englewood on the Gulf to prepare for Tropical Storm Rita, which could be a strong Category Two or Category Three hurricane when it passes the Lower Keys sometime tomorrow afternoon. Residents in the Lower Keys are under a mandatory evacuation, and Gallagher is urging compliance.
“This storm is forecast to produce surges up to nine feet, which could cover many of the islands,” said Gallagher, who as State Fire Marshal oversees search and rescue functions at the Emergency Operations Center. “I know it is overwhelming, given the number of storms that have hit our state in the past year, but we are facing another serious storm. Get prepared and comply with any evacuation orders.”
The Department of Financial Services’ storm hotline, 1-800-22-STORM, has remained activated since last year’s four hurricanes pummeled the state. The hotline can assist residents in preparing for a storm as well as dealing with damage after a storm.
The state’s meteorologist this morning said a high-pressure ridge that was expected to keep the storm on a westerly track is quickly dissipating, making conditions optimal for a northern turn toward the Gulf Coast. Gallagher said Panhandle residents should also be vigilant.
Gallagher recommends that property owners take the following actions in the event of severe weather damage:
• Make emergency repairs to protect from further damage, document the damage and repairs in writing, and with receipts and photos.
Gallagher also suggests these storm preparation tips:
• Be sure you know what your deductible is for hurricane losses. Most policies now have a hurricane deductible of two to five percent of a home’s insured value. If your property is damaged, you will be responsible for a portion of the repair costs.
Hurricane season continues until November 30. For more hurricane preparation tips, visit the Department of Financial Services’ web site at www.MyFloridaCFO.com.
“Preparedness is the best defense – both for the storm and the aftermath that could lure unlicensed adjusters and scam artists,” Gallagher said. “But more important is to heed any evacuation orders – nothing is more important than your and your family’s life.”
The new courthouse in Indian River County, named for the scenic body of water running between the barrier islands and the mainland along Florida's Treasure Coast. America's first National Wildlife Refuge was established on Pelican Island in the Indian River by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903.