With different areas of the state experiencing widespread flooding, state and local officials are warning residents to be careful of scams and ensuring they get proper relief.
Following the heavy rainfall over the weekend, Emergency management officials were forced to issue a mandatory evacuation order due to the major flooding in the Tampa Bay area.
Governor Rick Scott even recently visited the area.
“And, one of the streets, it was waist deep,” said Scott, speaking to reporters following a recent Cabinet meeting. “And, I saw another area where water had already receded, but it was really messing up the roads. And, I had the opportunity to go to a shelter and see some individuals there, and most were optimistic that they were going to get to go home. So, your heart goes out to those families and you can’t imagine what they’re going through. And, one of the areas that I guess had gotten hit…I think it was three years ago during Debbie, it was a mobile home park that I’d seen before.”
Scott Thursday afternoon also declared states of emergency for severe weather and flooding in five counties. He issued Flood Warnings for Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties as well as Flash Flood Warnings for Taylor and Dixie counties.
Different state and local agencies are working together to continue to help these flood-ridden communities.
In fact, Dixie County already did some mandatory evacuations. And, earlier, Taylor County declared a local state of emergency. Steve Spradley is Taylor County’s Emergency Management Director. He says both counties were affected by the major flooding mainly because they both border the Steinhatchee River.
“Now, we didn’t do a mandatory evacuation,” said Spradley. “This river has flooded probably six times in the last three years. This is near the worst flooding that we’ve had down there, but most of the houses are on stilts. They’re in a flood zone. So, it’s just something that they deal with.”
And, he says he wants to put out the word to all the residents that if they have any damage or any need, they should contact his office.
“Please give us a call at 850-838-3575,” he added. “We need to register these homes. We’ll come take a look. We’ll report them if we ever do get any federal declaration. We need to know if they need any assistance.”
Spradley says other assistance includes providing sand bags at the local fire station and extra water from a water tanker. He adds volunteers will also be helping out this weekend to assist residents who need help.
Still, no matter the area experiencing the flooding, state officials want consumers to be protected during this time from scammers offering to do common storm-related services.
“So, after a storm or natural disaster, we’ll often see unlicensed individuals come into damaged-prone areas and try to take advantage of either homeowners or business owners just because they see there are repairs that need to be done,” said Chelsea Eagle.
Eagle is the spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, or DBPR.
“Some of the common storm-related repairs include roof repairs, roof replacements, installing new windows, plumbing repairs, and even electrical repairs and rewiring and all of those require a license from DBPR. Of course, consumers should check with their local building department as well because there may be local ordinances in place or local permitting requirements,” she added.
Anyone who has complaints of unlicensed activity can report it to DBPR as well as the agency’s free mobile app. Other tips include checking references and reviews when looking into whether to hire a contractor. Red flags include individuals asking for all of the money upfront in cash or soliciting work by going door-to-door.
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