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Is Florida Better Prepared for Major Hurricane?

By: Victoria Langley
By: Victoria Langley

The projected path of the latest storm gathering strength in the Atlantic brings back some unpleasant memories for state Emergency Management Director Craig Fugate.

"Storms like Charley, Katrina, Hurricane Andrew," Fugate said.

But Fugate believes Floridians are better prepared to handle what mother nature throws at us than we were when Charley hit in 2004, thanks in part to a more proactive government.

"With sales tax holidays, preparedness campaigns, we never really were able to do on a statewide basis, we’re now being able to do, plus we have the warehouse in Orlando that gives us a good central location for supplies that are needed in the first couple of days," Fugate said.

Hurricane Charley was by far the most expensive of the 2004 hurricanes; 540,000 people filed insurance claims to the tune of more than $7.4 billion.

State officials have been at odds lately with an insurance industry many believe tries to profit off devastating storms by jacking up rates, but industry spokesman Sam Miller says in spite of the hostile environment, insurers will be there if Floridians get clobbered again.

"It would be better if we did not have this turmoil, but the companies are committed to servicing their policyholders and they will do that while the turmoil runs its course in Tallahassee," Miller said.

The question no one can answer though is how many of those companies would remain in Florida if we have another year like 2004, and would we be able to afford their premiums even if they did stay.

Hurricane forecasters are predicting a busier-than-average storm season this year, with as many as nine hurricanes forming. Log onto www.floridadisaster.org to create a customized home or business disaster plan and print out a list of supplies to have on hand.


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