June 1st kicks off hurricane season. State officials are now preparing for what experts are calling a potentially busy year.
“For this season, I think we’re as prepared as we can be and we’ll just have to see what happens,” said Exec. Director Hurricane Disaster Fund Jack Nicholson.
Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund is a state program designed to reimburse insurance companies after a massive storm without a hurricane in recent years the fund has been able to stockpile cash to pay claims.
“If you look at the Cat Fund historically, we’re in the best position we’ve been in.”
Even though there’s plenty of cash now, a major storm could wipe out the surplus in a heat beat.
“It would take a very large event, like a 1 in 20 year event to wipe out our cash balances.”
Supplying funding after a hurricane isn’t the only thing for which the state is preparing. It’s also making sure people can eat. The Department of Children and Families practiced responding to a disaster, providing victims with emergency food supplies.
“We bring in people from all across the state,” said Suzanne Vitale.
Wilma was the last major hurricane to hit Florida and that was in 2005. Since Wilma, the ways to apply for assistance have changed dramatically for the better.
“In 2005 there were long lines and if anyway was still around when Wilma happened, it was a very paper intensive process.”
Now the department enrolls people in need online, allowing them to get benefits a couple of days after they apply, instead of waiting weeks like years past..
The Cat Fund covers insurance company losses greater than 7 billion dollars in an effort to keep them from going broke.