HURRICANE MICHAEL UPDATE When Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on October 11th, it left the Panhandle area devastated. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has estimated that Floridians had more than $4.2 billion in insured losses from the storm. As of December 14th, more than 131,000 claims have been handled, about two-thirds of them involving residential properties. A large number of the claims (over 79,000) came from Bay County, where the category 4 hurricane came ashore. Unfortunately, only 14 percent of the homeowners in the affected counties had flood insurance. As the 12 counties effected by the storm continue to clean up and recover, severely damaged Tyndall Air Force Base finally opened its Base Exchange and Commissary on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving.
VISIT FLORIDA VISIT FLORIDA launched tourism assistance programs to aid local tourism businesses in the counties that were included in the FEMA major disaster declaration. The programs include the Tourism Recovery Grant Program for Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Michael Recovery Marketing Program. They are available to Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties.
TOURISM RECORD VISIT FLORIDA announced that 95.8 million visitors came to Florida from January through September 2018. Last year, Florida welcomed 89.8 million visitors during the same period.
RAIL The Florida Department of Transportation approved Brightline’s application to add high-speed passenger rail service from Orlando to Tampa. They must work on the terms of the agreement with the Central Florida Expressway Authority as well as utility companies and neighboring communities to build the 88-mile route of train service along I-4. The route will include the Orlando International Airport and downtown Tampa.
NURSING HOME GENERATORS Florida nursing homes continue to request more time from the Agency for Health Care Administration beyond the January 1st deadline to make modifications to emergency generators. Requirements for nursing homes were changed after several residents died at a Broward County nursing home following Hurricane Irma in 2017.