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Date of Issue: April 07, 2005

Hurricane relief slow, but coming for Bradenton Beach

Call it the "check's in the mail" syndrome.

Bradenton Beach officials hope that disposition on damages sustained to public property by last year's three hurricanes that impacted the Island of the four that created havoc in Florida will be finalized by the end of this week.

The city has already received $9,243 in the wake of Hurricane Charley, which made landfall and caused wind and water damage to the city, according to Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby, who also wears the hat of the city's emergency management chief.

Outstanding, though, is the $34,000 the city sustained from Hurricane Frances on Labor Day weekend, plus an estimated $2,685 caused by Hurricane Jeanne three weeks later. Although both storms made landfall on Florida's east coast, they had severe effects on the Island, with Frances taking off much of the roof at the city-owned Bradenton Beach City Pier on Bridge Street.

"We've had some hurdles with the Federal Emergency Management Agency," Cosby has told city commissioners, "but no real problems."

Cosby said the four hurricanes that made landfall in Florida last August-September will definitely make an impact on insurance carriers in the state, but that impact may not be as serious to Islanders as to residents in the center of the state.

"There are about 250 individual insurance carriers in Florida," he said, "and 22 have received approval to raise their rates. They are in the high-risk policy areas, which we are already in. Basically, I would expect to see the whole state become a high-risk zone after the 2004 hurricanes.

"Our insurance rates probably won't go up as high as the central part of the state, where rates could go up as much as 75 percent," he added.

Cosby said he was also working with Manatee County to develop a mutual aid agreement in post-disaster recovery and hoped to bring a presentation back to the city commission prior to the start of hurricane season June 1.

"We're not equipped to handle the paperwork with FEMA and the state," Cosby said of the morass of forms required for any municipal reimbursement for damage from natural disasters. "What we can do under the mutual aid agreement is use the county's venders, and they'll do the paperwork for us if we want them to."

Cosby also offered a few grim statistics regarding post-hurricane recovery based on historical models from other communities.

About 40 percent of businesses don't reopen after a hurricane, he said, and, of those that do, about 60 percent don't remain in operation for more than two years.

On a brighter note, though, Cosby said that Sanibel Island did perform a yeoman's effort of recovery after Hurricane Charley's passage Aug. 13, 2004, and overcame the depressing statistics "and came back quickly."

AM, HB funded, too

Anna Maria Deputy City Clerk Diane Percycoe says the city received 100 percent of the reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of Hurricane Charley - $1,432 - last February. The city also received $39,262 for Hurricane Frances last week, and expects to receive $28,889 for Hurricane Jeanne later this week.

Holmes Beach City Treasurer Rich Ashley said FEMA has reimbursed the city $8,745 for Hurricane Charley, but a combined $70,929 for Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne collectively remains outstanding. He said he anticipates a partial payment check of $12,000 within 30 to 45 days from FEMA, but the balance could take considerably longer.