Many in FL are without insurance

Thousands of homes damaged, responders scramble to provide support


HIGHWAY CLOSED -- Steve Barnes of Seminole Soil and Water Conservation District talking to residents Dwight Jakubcin and Nick Maragni who said he has lived in the area 16 or 17 years and he "has never seen flooding like this."

While rivers and lakes in some parts of Florida are continuing to rise, where the water has receded, it has left behind significant damage.

Florida VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster) organizers said that initial reports suggest that at least 1,557 homes were damaged by the tropical storm. Preliminary damage estimates have been set at more than $12.6 million. According to Florida Power and Light, there are still more than 7,500 customers without power in the wake of the storm.

Tropical Storm Fay first crossed into Florida in St. Lucie County. Stephanie Myers from St. Lucie INTACT, said there were 500 to 600 households there that were damaged by the wind and rain. She said 65 to 70 percent of those affected by the storm have no insurance. Many more have insufficient insurance.

"It is a poor community," she said. "Many people need assistance with food as well as mucking out of their houses. And most of the homes are uninsured or underinsured."

In Brevard County, so far 400 homes have reported damage from the storm. Others have not yet reported because they have been unable to return home due to the flooding to assess the damage. The American Red Cross has two shelters open there and they are also working with local agencies on a long-term recovery plan.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Individual Assistance Grants for Brevard County Tuesday allowing Florida residents to apply for federal grants to offset damage caused by Tropical Storm Fay.

Kathy Broyard of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance said her group is ready to help those already impacted by the wind and flooding, but they are also preparing to help those who are further north (downstream) along the St. Johns River. She said they are ready to provide tarps to anyone who needs them.

While volunteers in St. Lucie and Brevard counties are already beginning the tedious task of cleaning out the houses that were flooded and damaged by the wind from Tropical Storm Fay, many to the north are preparing for more flooding.

"The ground here in Seminole was parched from a year and a half of drought," Harris said. "It just won't be able to absorb all the water we're going to get on top of the 18 to 20 inches of rain we got from Fay. We're looking to have some severe flooding when the St. Johns really starts rising."

A bit downsteam in Volusia County, DeLand and Deltona are already fighting severe flooding. Maryann Luther from the Volusia Interfaith Networking Disaster (VIND) said they are dealing with the anticipated cresting of the St. Johns. She said 175 homes near Deltona are flooded and that flooding is being reported in some of the same areas that were hit by tornadoes a year and a half ago at Christmas.

"We are working to be ready to offer assistance," she said. "Many of these residents are not insured. It's not looking good."

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