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Gallagher Accompanies President, Governor on Tour of Storm-damaged Areas and Sends More Help to Storm Victims

9/8/2004

CONTACT: Tami Torres or Justin Glover
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher accompanied President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush on a tour of storm-affected areas along the east coast today. Governor Bush and Gallagher also visited the Charlotte County Emergency Operations Center to meet with disaster response officials. Gallagher, who yesterday deployed the Department of Financial Services' Mobile Response Unit to Ft. Pierce, also dispatched additional staff to more than 20 disaster recovery sites statewide.

"We're now dealing with a statewide recovery effort," Gallagher said. "It's my job to make sure Florida's insurance consumers are treated fairly and are met by an adjuster as quickly as possible, so they can start on the road to recovery."

"The president's support and encouragement to storm victims, emergency responders, and relief and recovery volunteers is greatly appreciated," Gallagher said. "Even though our recent storms have brought terrible hardship, it's inspiring to see federal, state and local organizations and neighbors helping neighbors, to rebuild our homes and communities."

After touring many of the areas affected by Hurricane Frances, Gallagher yesterday deployed the Mobile Response Unit (MRU) to assist Floridians in filing insurance claims and quickly resolving insurance problems. The MRU remains deployed at the Furniture Mart Shopping Center (Old Ft. Pierce Outlet Mall) at 2817 Peters Rd. in Ft. Pierce. The site is accessible from Exit 152, Okeechobee Rd., of the Florida Turnpike or Exit 129 of I-95. 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. Co-locating at the site are representatives from the following insurance companies: Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, Allstate, American Strategic, Florida Select, Metropolitan Property and Casualty, State Farm, First Floridian, Nationwide and Liberty Mutual.

Additional sites with insurance consumer specialists available are listed below:

Harold Recreation Center, 23400 Harold Avenue, Port Charlotte
Nicor Building, 1602 Goldenrod Rd., Orlando
Martin County Fair Grounds, 2616 SE Dixie Hwy., Stuart
Palm Beach Gardens Community Center, 4404 Burns Rd., Palm Beach Gardens.

For more sites consumers should call the hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.

The department will soon begin airing radio PSAs directing storm victims to a disaster recovery site or the toll-free hotline.

"Thousands of Floridians have suffered losses, both from Charley and from Frances, but we will recover," said Gallagher, who served as insurance commissioner during Hurricane Andrew. "We're here to help. Our hurricane hotline remains open at 1-800-22-STORM and consumer specialists are now mobilized in the affected communities."

Consumers looking for tips on the rebuilding process, including storm-resistant construction and materials, can visit the website of the Federal Alliance For Safe Homes at www.flash.org.