Florida’s 11 Years of Good Luck Finally Ran Out

2016 Hurricane Season Concludes

This hurricane season, Florida saw its first hurricane make landfall in 11 years- Hurricane Hermine. Shortly after, Hurricane Matthew, a major hurricane that just barely missed Florida’s east coast, caused a substantial amount of damage to Florida and triggered evacuation notices for nearly 1.5 million Floridians.

There is good news though. As Christian Cámara of the R Street Institute points out, reinsurance saved Florida from catastrophic losses:

“Thanks to responsible decisions made by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over the past several years, coupled with trends in the global economy, homeowners are not expected to see insurance rate increases because of these storms.”

As Florida moves on and continues the recovery process, as businesses return to normal and communities put cleanup efforts behind them, the Florida Chamber recognizes that hurricanes are part of Florida’s reality, and the question isn’t if a hurricane will hit, but when.

What’s Next for the Future of Reinsurance?

Be sure to join us in Miami on February 1-3 for the Florida Chamber’s 2017 Insurance Summit to learn more. Click here to register.

Florida-based Companies Do Their Part After Matthew

Hurricane Matthew, a major hurricane that barely missed Florida’s east coast, caused a substantial amount of damage to Florida. Florida’s east coast from Miami to Fernandina Beach saw the effects of Matthew, triggering evacuation notices for nearly 1.5 million Floridians and causing power outages throughout the state.

Florida’s first responders deserve a great deal of praise for their ability to maintain safety and order in the nearly 400-mile-long path of the hurricane. In addition, I think it’s important to recognize some of our very own Florida-based companies who helped our first responders do their jobs effectively, allowing for our residents to return to normal as soon as possible.

Harris Corp., Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric, Gulf Power, and JEA, some of Florida’s largest employers, worked to restore power and ensure the safety and security of our citizens during the storm. Each company had a role to play and performed remarkably.

Florida Power & Light worked diligently throughout the storm to restore power to over 1.2 million customers. Power was restored to 70 percent of FP&L customers within 24 hours and to 98 percent of their customers within 48 hours. This response was not hastily put together, but rather, was the result of years of planning and development.

Duke Energy set a company record for the pace at which they were able to restore power to nearly 1.5 million customers in North and South Carolina, while Tampa Electric restored power to the more than 11,000 Floridians in their areas that were impacted, and then quickly moved nearly 300 of their employees to help restore electric services in other communities in Florida.

Gulf Power, while not directly affected by Matthew, joined the dozens of utility companies who were staged around the state waiting for the storm to pass. When the immediate threat was over, they sent equipment and personnel to aid in the recovery process for Florida homeowners. Altogether, nearly 15,000 workers from around the country were on the ground to deliver a quick recovery.

Another important role in the response to the storm came from Harris Corporation, operator of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS). Matthew marked the 10th hurricane in a row that SLERS remained fully operational with no reported service interruptions. During Hurricane Matthew, officers sent and received 2.2 million calls, keeping them connected and safe while in harm’s way. Harris is also the radio provider for FP&L, ensuring their technicians were always aware of the most time sensitive power restoration needs.

Special recognition needs to be given to the dozens of local chambers of commerce in communities up and down Florida’s east coast. Before and after the storm, the Florida Chamber was in contact with local chambers in the impacted area, ensuring they were both prepared in advance and safe following the storms impact.

Local chambers of commerce are often the primary organization many look to for leadership and guidance during the recovery process. With that in mind, the Florida Chamber was pleased to connect impacted local chambers on a conference call with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio – facilitating FEMA and post-storm recovery information and assistance.

As Florida moves on and continues the recovery process, as businesses return to normal and communities put cleanup efforts behind them, the Florida Chamber recognizes that hurricanes are part of Florida’s reality. Yet, in our state’s time of need, Florida businesses came together, stepped up and showed the world that when Florida businesses unite, Florida wins.

After Matthew, Flagler Remains Strong

Gretchen Smith, Flagler County Chamber of Commerce

Living through a natural disaster like Hurricane Matthew reminded employees of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce about the important role our organization plays before, during and after a hurricane.

Preparation for the storm began with a call to action from Flagler County’s Emergency Operations Center, which mobilized leaders, groups and organizations throughout the county. Conference calls were scheduled twice daily to update community partners and ask them to spread information to their respective audiences. Our chamber utilized multiple communications channels to continually update our 750 member businesses about evacuation plans, emergency shelters, forecasts and other disaster-related information before and as the storm made landfall.

After the storm, our communications role continued. With electricity but without Internet access or main telephone service, staff returned to the Chamber headquarters and began checking in with our members. In the days that followed, we used our personal cell phones to try to reach as many members as we could to offer our support and service. Most seemed genuinely appreciative to hear from us and many shared stories of how they’d fared during the storm. Others had issues they needed to address immediately and we helped expedite those requests as best we could.

In the coming days, weeks and months, our businesses and residents will continue to need support, and as a result, we are working on grant and funding opportunities to assist our most-impacted members. Challenges still exist but our community is stronger having experienced this disaster.  We are grateful for our government partners and dedicated staff, elected officials, clubs, organizations, residents and neighbors who all rallied to help one another. We are proud to report that the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce is #FlaglerStrong.