The recovery efforts continue in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Michael, and this week, I joined first responders, recovery crews and volunteers helping people in the aftermath of this deadly storm. I cannot thank our utility companies enough for their tireless efforts to restore power in areas filled with total devastation.

Cell service continues to provide challenges for first response and people affected by Michael. A major issue was that most of the cell service in the area was powered by Verizon. Governor Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis have championed this issue to help these citizens regain the cell service they desperately need. AT&T stepped up and brought in many mobile cell towers, as well as mobile phones.

I want to thank Tracfone, a national company based in Miami, for donating 200 phones fully charged with 60 days of AT&T service to help our first responders. These are just a few example of organizations stepping up to help those in need. In Franklin County with Sheriff A.J. Smith, we met a group of St. Petersburg pilots flying donated chainsaws, gas cans and other necessities directly to disaster sites.

In Mexico Beach, I met residents whose homes were destroyed and cars totaled. Mark and Christie Harriman and their two children rode out the storm at a neighbor’s house. They lost everything, but remain resilient. Mark told me he will never ignore another evacuation order.

In Lynn Haven, local dentist Dr. Reese Harrison and his friend Jonathan Mitchell organized a disaster relief camp, providing free meals, gas and other necessities to displaced residents. In one day they fed more than 15,000 people.

I spoke to local radio, print and television reporters to help spread the word about preventing scams and price gouging. If you see something suspicious, please report it to my office at 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or—for more resources, click here.

Recovery will take months, but I am encouraged by the selflessness and courage of our first responders and those effected. I cannot thank Governor Rick Scott enough for his tireless dedication in coordinating all efforts to help the Panhandle recover.


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