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Q & A: The storm

By GRAHAM BRINK
Published February 3, 2007


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How many people were killed or injured?

Twenty people died in Lake County. The number of injured has not been released.

How many people are homeless?

Unknown, but many tornado victims are likely taking shelter with family or neighbors. Only 107 people stayed in public shelters Friday night and the population dwindled to 19 by Saturday afternoon.

How many homes were damaged or destroyed?

Unknown. State officials said they expect to release a formal damage estimate this morning. On Friday, officials had estimated at least 2,000 homes had been damaged, but they said 1,500 on Saturday. There was no official estimate for Lake County and only a partial estimate, 63, for eastern Volusia County. Sumter County estimated more than 400 homes were damaged in the Villages. The state-backed insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., anticipates having up to 500 claims in the area.

Is there a dollar estimate for the amount of damage?

Not yet.

What is FEMA doing to help?

FEMA, in conjunction with the state, opened four distribution centers in the path of the tornado Saturday for water, ice, food, tarps and some roofing materials. Starting today, tornado victims can register for individual and business assistance with FEMA. Available aid for qualified applicants includes grants for temporary housing or home repairs and low-interest loans to cover residential and business losses not covered by insurance.

How can you contact FEMA to register?

Call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. You can also visit. www.fema.gov

How many people are still without power?

By Saturday evening, 1,500 customers were without power, down from a peak of 25,000 customers Friday afternoon. Power was expected to be fully restored by today.

What's the weather forecast in the hardest hit area for the next few days?

Lake County was to get rain overnight and some showers today. Temperatures, after low 50s on Saturday, were expected to rise to the low 60s for the next several days with more rain possible by week's end.

Could there be more tornadoes in Central Florida in the next few days?

Not likely, the National Weather Service said. The area is under a cold air mass expected to last through Tuesday, said forecaster Tony Reynes. The next significant rain is anticipated Friday. "But it doesn't look anywhere near like what we had last Thursday," Reynes said.

What kind of warning system does Florida have to alert people to sudden storm dangers?

Some counties, including Citrus, have air sirens, but there's no statewide siren system. State emergency management officials have encouraged people to buy weather radios, which can warn of specific kinds of dangers for specific areas. Some technology groups are pushing for a cell-phone notification system, but that's not yet in place.

What did Gov. Charlie Crist do Saturday?

Crist remained in tornado-damaged areas Saturday, touring by helicopter with Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, and meeting with FEMA director David Paulison. He is expected to attend services at Lady Lake Church of God this morning.

How will this effect insurance rates in Florida?

It's too soon to tell. But Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty issued an emergency order Saturday barring any insurance company from dropping policies of those hurt by Friday's tornadoes until at least 90 days after repairs are completed. The order also allows storm victims to delay any required correspondence with insurers until April 15, including premium payments which become due after last Thursday.

[Last modified February 3, 2007, 21:57:17]


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