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Lessons Learned from Charley

August 12th, 2009 by flanews

Hurricane Charley hit Southwest Florida five years ago Thursday. Charley was the first of eight major hurricanes to hit Florida over a two year period. As Whitney Ray tells us, a state incentive program started after the string of storms to encourage people to strengthen their homes is in jeopardy.

After Hurricane Charley tore through Southwest Florida in 2004 seven powerful storms followed. The string of storms marked the most active back to back hurricane seasons in state history, and according to the Office of Insurance Regulation, changed the way people prepare for storms.

“A lesson that we have learned since the 04, 05 storms and even before that, that the people who have taken the time and effort and expense to fortify their homes can move back home shortly after the storm,” said Belinda Miller, the Deputy Commissioner of OIR.

State lawmakers even passed legislation to force insurance companies to offer discounts to customers who strengthen their homes. But now insurance discounts for installing storm-proof windows and strengthening doors are in jeopardy and could be eliminated all together next year.

State Farm cited high discounts as one of its reasons for leaving Florida. Insurance representative Sam Miller said the mitigation incentives may be too high.

“Is the amount of money you are getting in a discount the same as the actual saving and the actual reduction in losses from a hurricane,” said Miller.

Governor Charlie Crist said whether or not the state continues to mandate the incentives shouldn’t stop people from strengthening their homes.

“It’s not about money and I think we have to remember that as Floridians and I think Floridians understand that better than anybody, that it is about getting a plan and being prepared,” said Crist.

A recent study found one out of every two Floridians doesn’t have a disaster plan. Funding for another incentive program helping Floridians harden their homes was killed this year. 30,000 people used grants from the My Safe Florida Home program to strengthen their houses from 2006 till July this year.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Housing, Hurricane Season, Insurance, State News | No Comments »

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