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Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch Now in Effect for Southeast Florida

8/24/2005

CONTACT:
Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE- Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is urging residents in Southeast Florida to get ready for a possible strike by Tropical Storm Katrina.  Gallagher advised that residents can contact the Department of Financial Services' toll-free storm line at 1-800-22-STORM with insurance questions or for assistance with filing claims should the storm inflict damage.
 
 "Thirteen years ago today Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Homestead.  Preparation for a storm is essential and I urge Floridians to take steps necessary to protect their homes and families," said Gallagher, who oversees the department.  "Our department stands ready to assist in any way we can."
The National Hurricane Center has reported that tropical storm warnings and a hurricane watch are in effect for the Southeast Florida coastline from Vero Beach down to Florida City.   A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the Middle and Upper Keys.  Katrina has maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour and is forecasted to make landfall in the Fort Lauderdale area.  Because the storm is moving slowly, Florida residents should also be on alert for inland flooding. 
 
Gallagher recommends that property owners take the following actions in the event of severe weather damage:
 
• 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.
 
• If you need cash, consider withdrawing what you need because ATMs and financial institutions cannot do transactions when the electricity is out.
 
• If your home is damaged or is currently awaiting repairs, take steps to protect your home from further damage and document the current state of your home with photos or video.
 
• Immediately report property damage or any additional damage to your insurance agent and company.
 
• Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of your insurance company.  If you must evacuate, let your agent or insurance company know your temporary forwarding address and phone number.
 
• Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses. Hire licensed and reputable service and repair people.
 
• If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, verify that the adjuster is licensed by calling the department's toll-free consumer helpline at 1-800-22-STORM, or 1-800-227-8676.
 
  For more hurricane preparation tips, visit the Department of Financial Services' web site at www.fldfs.com.
 
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Gallagher also serves as the State Fire Marshal.