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Hurricane relief.

We have much to be thankful for this holiday season, but many of our fellow Floridians will not be celebrating as usual.

Recently, Florida was severely hit by Hurricane Wilma, which tore across the southern part of our state, destroying much in its path.

Below are some emerging statistics of damage caused by Hurricane Wilma:

* Insured loss from Wilma is between $9 billion and $12 billion, according to the preliminary estimate by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

* There have been more FEMA filings for assistance to date from Wilma than from last season's Charley.

* Preliminary dwelling damage figures from Red Cross shows that nearly 89,680 homes counted so far have been touched by Wilma, compared with a final total from Charley at 89,752.

* Agriculture and aquaculture damage/ loss is estimated at more than $2 billion, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

* Damage estimates to farmland homes and communities have not yet been tallied but damage is extensive. The Farmworkers Association of America says farm workers who can't afford to miss even one week's pay are facing four months without work due to Wilma.

This season's hurricanes have exacted a heavy toll on the fishing industry and on Floridians who make their livings upon the sea. According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission up to 1,200 fishing families in the Keys alone may be directly affected, with a collective damage assessment to the industry statewide at $123 million--so far.

Insurance, federal and state agencies and other relief organizations are not equipped to cover all of the needs of Floridians impacted by these storms. In response, Gov. Jeb Bush established the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund for unmet needs and designated the nonprofit Volunteer Florida Foundation to manage it.

As one of Florida's leading newspapers, the St. Petersburg Times, wrote: "The Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, created by Gov. Jeb Bush after last year's historic storms, has an impressive record of raising money and getting it to communities that need it most.... This is the modern equivalent of neighbor helping neighbor."

By contributing to the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund, you will help put Floridians lives on the road to recovery.

Recovery is a long process. A report this past summer from the University of Florida stated that an estimated 1.3 million Floridians have completed repairs from the 2004 hurricane damage, but repairs were still under way for 696,000 residents and had not yet begun for another 348,000. The situation has been adversely impacted by damage during the 2005 season. The fund's efforts matter now more than ever and depend on the contributions of businesses and citizens.

To date, the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund has raised over $22 million from citizens in every state and has funded 270 organizations to provide long-term recovery assistance for the thousands of families whose needs were not adequately covered by government and insurance funds. Your contribution will make a tremendous difference as we rise and rebuild. Please give to those in need in Florida. (www.flahurricanefund.org)

Steve Uhlfelder

Volunteer CEO

Florida Hurricane Relief Fund
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Uhlfelder, Steve
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:518
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