A hurricane season that left more than 100 people dead and thousands homeless will be over at midnight Tuesday. Back-to-back storms stretched resources and culminated in the largest relief effort ever mounted.
No area of the state escaped the summer of hurricanes. In Tallahassee where residents bagged sand, boarded windows and bought generators for three brushes with disaster, there is a sigh of relief.
The summer of storms wreaked havoc from one corner of Florida to the other, causing $42 billion in public and private damage. State Emergency Operations Director Craig Fugate and staff worked non-stop 12-hour days.
“This has become the largest disaster response Florida has ever engaged in," Fugate says.
The relief effort involved 4,700 tractor trailers of food, ice and water, a quarter million blue tarps and 5.9 million man hours. Requests for temporary housing are still coming in at the rate of 100 a day; 8,700 people are living in and more than 3,000 are still on the waiting list.
With the end of hurricane season the prohibition on insurance companies canceling policies also expires. The lieutenant governor says expect the obvious.
Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings says, "Are insurance rates going to go up? Probably. Are people going to have some difficulty in getting property casualty insurance in certain areas? Probably."
The lights are now out at the Emergency Operations Center, but officials caution that it’s time to begin preparing for next year.
State lawmakers meet in mid-December to begin tackling insurance issues, including eliminating double deductibles, making the catastrophic fund easier for insurance companies to access and granting property tax breaks to owners of damaged homes.