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Hurricane Season Is Approaching And Some Lawmakers Are Preparing For Storms

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Credit NOAA

  Forecasters from Colorado State University say warmer than normal water will likely mean a less active Atlantic Hurricane season this year. PhilKlotzbachis the university’s lead author on seasonal forecasts.

“We’re predicting a total of 7 named storms, three hurricanes and one major category 3,4,5 hurricane. That’s about half the activity of the average hurricane season. This is the lowest forecast that we’ve put out in April, but we’ve only been issuing April forecasts since 1995," Klotzbach says.

Jeff Huffman from Florida Public Radio’s Emergency Network caught up with Klotzbach at the National Tropical Weather Conference. Officials are warning Floridians to ensure they’re prepared anyway, saying even one bad storm can be enough to have a major impact. Meanwhile, lawmakers are making their own preparations.

 Sen. JeffBrandes(R-St. Petersburg) is behind a bill that tweaks the state’s insurance rules and requires the Office of Insurance Regulation to use a Hurricane model approved by the Florida Commission on Hurricane loss when considering projected hurricane losses. His is one of a raft of legislation relating to hurricanes this session. Sen. Alan Hays  (R-Umatilla) has a bill to be sure the state has a dedicated funding source for the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center. 

Hays says the center is just wrapping up a survey of all state-owned buildings.

Hays promises the redirection of the funds won’t take away from other hurricane protection programs. Meanwhile, Sen. AnitreFlores (R-Miami) is sponsoring a bill to temper the state’s efforts to reduce the number of Floridians insured through state-backed Citizens Property Insurance.                       

“Our legislature has struggled over the last couple of years of finding that balance between Citizens property insurance which is intended to be the insurer of last resort, but which has become for so many people the insurer of only resort and how we balance that with the free market principles of many of us who are up here,” Flores says.

State officials have been working to reduce Floridian’s exposure to risk. The more people who have policies through the company, the more likely it is people living in the state will have to help pay  claims if a major storm hits. Citizens claims are partly paid through an assessment that can be charged to anyone who has any kind of insurance in Florida. That’s because Citizens is a state-backed company. But Flores says efforts to send its policy holders to other companies have gotten too aggressive in her area. 

“We were dealing with constituents who every other month were saying that hey we’re being asked to be depopulated again. Essentially I would say maybe hoping that they were going to play the odds and that you would forget to turn the paper in saying you want to be back in Citizens,” Flores say.

Flores’s bill, among other things, limits the number of times a person can be asked to leave Citizens for a different insurance company to twice per year.

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