Important hurricane preps that may not be on your radar
Make sure to gather important documents, have supply of prescription medications
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Michael became a hurricane on Monday, News4Jax spoke with Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis about preparations you may not think about right before a major storm.
When it comes to hurricane preparations, stocking up on water and batteries for your hurricane supply kit probably comes to mind. But there are other important steps to take, including gathering important family documents and refilling prescriptions.
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For instance, with Michael tracking north toward Florida's Gulf Coast about the same time as the king tide, you have to be ready for damage caused by flooding and storm surge.
Patronis said you need to make sure important paperwork and documents are in order.
"So what I tell people -- as we're definitely in a digital society, smartphones are pretty much the norm -- photos of the contents (of your home) and photos from inside your living room, outside your house -- all of those can be used through the claims process," Patronis said in a Skype interview. "Also (have) a copy of your insurance policy."
Of course, after the storm, you may have pressing insurance questions. Patronis said there will be more people staffing the state's insurance hotline. The number is 1-877-MY-FL-CFO (877-693-5236).
Unfortunately, there are people who want to capitalize on your misfortune. Patronis said be aware of the potential for fraud.
"You need to resist paying anybody cash to do any work at your home -- debris removal, tree removal, anything like that," he said. "You first need to assess the damages, contact your insurance carrier, start that ball rolling. Put them on notice. As you've got them on notice, then you at least have a paper trail where your insurance carrier can help you finalize the claim."
Ahead of Michael making landfall, Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 26 counties. On Monday, Scott expanded the state of emergency to include 35 counties. Among those are Columbia, Hamilton, Alachua, Union, Bradford and Baker counties.
As Scott declared a state of emergency, Attorney General Pam Bondi on Sunday night activated Florida’s price gouging hotline for consumers in the Panhandle and Big Bend. The number is 866-9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226).
One other thing you might not have thought of is making sure you have an adequate supply of prescription medications. If your prescription is not yet eligible for a refill, there's a law in Florida that waives those restrictions are waived and you're able to get the medications.
Due to the executive order, the state Office of Insurance Regulation notified all health insurers, managed care organizations and other health entities that they must allow early prescription refills for people that live in a county that:
- Is under a hurricane warning issued by the National Weather Service,
- Is declared to be under a state of emergency in an executive order issued by the governor or
- Has activated its emergency operations center and its emergency management plan.
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