A greatly diminished tropical depression Frances came ashore in the Florida Panhandle early Monday night. With winds down to around 35 mph (56 km/hr), Frances posed more of a threat from heavy rainfall, surging tides and possible tornadoes than anything else.
The storm continues to move inland over eastern Alabama and Southern Georgia where it has dropped torrential rains and continues to cause some dmage. It’s expected to weaken further as it moves north.
Frances left Floridians with a lot of cleaning up to do. Residents will be eligible for federal relief assistance, as large portions of the area hit by Frances have been declared disaster areas. President Bush plans to ask Congress for an emergency $2 billion appropriation. Electrical power to some 6 million people is gradually being restored, while those in affected areas are experiencing long waits for gas, ice, water and other essentials.
While Frances was undoubtedly a very unpleasant experience, the storm is not expected to produce the same loss levels as Charley. According to the latest estimates from Risk Management Solutions, “insured losses from Hurricane Frances would be between $3 and $6 billion. At that level, insured losses from Frances would be less than the losses associated with Hurricane Charley, which are currently estimated at $6 to $8 billion.”
Most of the state’s insurers are already busy fielding claims and responding to their policyholders’ questions. A list of toll-free numbers appears on the Insurance Information Institute’s Website at: http://www.iii.org (It ‘s also available on the IJ Website – Aug. 3).