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Gallagher Joins Southeastern Officials in Issuing Warning about Hurricanes’ Deadly Risk of Flooding


CONTACT: Tami Torres or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE – With hurricane season less than two weeks away, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is joining officials from throughout the southeastern United States in warning residents to not only plan for a potential hurricane strike but also for the risk of inland flooding that often occurs with a hurricane or tropical storm.

The Florida Department of Financial Services, which Gallagher oversees, is joining the National Weather Service, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and officials in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia and West Virginia, in a public education campaign promoting the message "Turn Around, Don't Drown." The campaign, launched today, coincides with National Hurricane Awareness Week. Hurricane season begins June 1.

"Most hurricane-related deaths are a result of people driving through flooded areas," Gallagher said. "This outreach effort is intended to remind Floridians that the risk is real and not worth taking."

According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), inland flooding is the most dangerous and deadly problem caused by hurricanes.

"While many people are aware that flooding poses a serious risk to property, few people realize that it is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States," said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. She said that of the 56 deaths caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, all but six were the result of inland flooding.

Inland flooding can occur as far as 500 miles from the eye of a tropical cyclone, said Kandis Boyd, hydrology program manager for the National Weather Service's Southern Region.

Bill Proenza, director, of the NWS' Southern Region, said it takes only six inches of rushing water to knock a person off their feet and that just two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles.

According to Gallagher, in preparation for hurricane season, Floridians should be double-checking insurance coverage, taking steps to secure their homes and developing an escape plan.

"Being prepared can save lives, property and a lot of heartache," Gallagher said.

He also suggested following these storm preparation tips:

· Don't wait until the last minute to buy coverage. If you're covered, carefully review your policy, especially its "declarations" page. Know whether your policy pays the "replacements cost" or "actual cash value" for a covered loss. The latter rarely will pay enough to replace a destroyed item at today's prices. You may want to upgrade your policy if it does not cover the current value of your home and its contents.

· 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.

· Inventory your household items, including receipts, purchase dates and serial numbers. Photograph or video-tape 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.

· When a hurricane threatens, take action to protect your property. 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.

· Strengthen your home by making sure roof anchors are installed. Replace windows and doors that don't pass the impact test or cover them with shutters. The right doors, windows and shutters will save you money on your insurance premiums.

· 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.

For free guides on "Insuring Your Home" or a brochure on "Natural Disasters," visit or call the department's toll-free Consumer Helpline at 1-800-342-2762. For more information on the "Turn Around, Don't Drown" campaign, visit