Tuesday, November 30 is the end of the 2004 hurricane season, but that didn’t stop Mother Nature from one last hurrah.
Tropical Storm Otto sprung up Tuesday afternoon in the far Atlantic about 800 miles east of Bermuda. It’s no threat to any land areas right now and probably won’t be.
As the season winds down the 2004 summer season of storms saw more than 100 people die and thousands forced from their homes. Four hurricanes blasted all parts of Florida in a six week span of time. The back to back storms stretched resources and culminated in the largest relief effort ever mounted.
The summer of storms wrecked havoc from one corner of Florida to the other, causing $42 billion in public and private damage.
State Emergency Operations Director Craig Fugate and his staff worked non-stop 12-hour days.
“This is become the largest disaster response Florida has ever engaged in."
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 the temps and more than 3,000 are still on the waiting list for housing.
With the end of hurricane season the prohibition on insurance companies canceling policies also expires. Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings says expect the obvious.
“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 state 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.