‘Like someone dropped a nuclear bomb:’ 2,000 Florida businesses report millions in losses

Businesses throughout Florida deal with damages in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Speaking from a makeshift office in Fort Myers Wednesday, Dept. of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle seemed numb as he discussed his boyhood town being wiped out.

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – Speaking from a makeshift office in Fort Myers Wednesday, Dept. of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle seemed numb as he discussed his boyhood town being wiped out.

“It’s like someone dropped a nuclear bomb on it. I’m not joking,” Eagle told News 6. “There are businesses that I grew up going to: Dairy Queen, mom and pop places, my earliest memories as a child, gone.”

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Those businesses meet the profile of the estimated 2,000 businesses that have already “self-reported” structural and financial fallout from Hurricane Ian on the state’s Floridadisaster.biz.

“We did see a lot in Central Florida, a lot in the Tampa Bay area, and we know that number is going to increase .”

The evidence being gathered right now by federal investigators suggests Eagle is right.

The National Insurance Crime bureau has teams on the ground to track illegal contractors and current insurance claims in Florida.

According to the NICB, “nearly 230,000 insurance claims have been reported in the state of Florida as of this morning, of which nearly 150,000 are homeowners and business claims.”

An additional 80,000 claims focus on vehicle damage, according to the NICB.

In terms of overall property damage, the NICB estimates losses upward of $60 billion “based upon current projections.” Insurance fraud and crime could cost carriers and homeowners anywhere from $3 billion to $6 billion.

While insurance villages and disaster centers have been based in southwest Florida, Eagle told News 6 the inland is not being forgotten.

News 6 asked whether the state could bring in insurance villages to hard-hit Central Florida communities, and both CFO Jimmy Patronis and Eagle have assured that the locations are being assessed.

“It is possible,” Eagle told News 6. “We’re assessing as we speak. I can’t promise that we will be there, but we are certainly looking at counties that are impacted. The governor has not forgotten inland counties.”

If you need to present your company’s needs, visit FloridaDisaster.Biz. For roof assistance, call the U.S. Army Corp of engineers at 1-888-766-3258.

If you are having trouble getting help, we will try to connect you. Just send an email to makeendsmeet@wkmg.com.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.