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Hurricane Charley Relief

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Branches, building materials and furniture are piled up in a parking lot in Punta Gorda, Florida, while huge piles of insulation and roofing material sit in a neat row at a strip mall.

And so it goes in the area devastated by Hurricane Charley, where homeless residents hunt for essentials at various aid centers.

Near Fort Myers Beach, bulldozers plowed an inch-thick layer of sand that looked like snow off the roads. Tami Wilson of Port Charlotte says it's hard being unable to bathe and knowing there's no food unless she and her husband go looking for it. Sherrie Chester said she just wanted "the basics" as she waited in line for food, water and toilet paper.

Officials say it could take weeks to get electricity restored, and thousands have already applied for disaster aid.

Insurers are fielding thousands of claims from hard-hit Florida residents. And industry estimates show insured losses from Hurricane Charley could be as high as $14 billion.

Home, auto and commercial insurers have sent teams to assess the damage. They've set up shop to take claims at temporary centers ranging from Wal-Marts to the Daytona International Speedway.

State Farm, Florida's largest home insurer, has about 23 percent of the residential market in hardest-hit Charlotte County, and had received more than 20,000 claims as of Sunday afternoon.

The nation's two biggest insurers, State Farm and Allstate, are facing steep losses. But the blow will be eased somewhat by the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund which Florida established in the wake of devastating Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Also, reinsurers provide backup, enabling the industry to spread the risk.

For information on how you can assist the Red Cross in its recovery efforts, Click here.


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