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EDM DigestFlorida Panhandle Tries Return to Normal after Michael David Hubler October 17, 2018
hurricane michael

By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest

Despite more than 1,000 people still missing one week after Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle and the resulting devastation, the region has begun taking steps to return life to normal.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) deployed a Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) vehicle on Tuesday into Liberty County to provide driver licensing and other motor vehicle services to people affected by Michael.

Additional FLOW vehicles will be deployed to nearby Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. Information about the location and dates of those mobile units will be released as soon as they are available, Governor Rick Scott’s office announced.

FLOW Vehicles Will Provide a Variety of Services

FLOW vehicles will also offer DHSMV’s critical safety services such as registering emergency contact information. In addition, the mobile units will provide services that will allow Florida vehicle owners to:

  • Renew or obtain a Florida driver license and/or ID card
  • Replace a driver license and/or ID card
  • Change a name or address on a driver license and/or ID card
  • Renew a vehicle registration
  • Obtain or renew a disabled person parking permit
  • Purchase a specialty license plate

Customers who are renewing a credential, updating an address or renewing a registration can also visit GoRenew.com to renew online.

Florida Lawyers Offering Free Legal Help to Residents

Florida lawyers have volunteered to provide free legal help to residents, including:

  • Securing FEMA and other benefits
  • Making life, medical and property insurance claims
  • Dealing with home repair contractors
  • Replacing wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the hurricane
  • Helping with consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems or landlord/tenant issues

Tallahassee Hotels Expect Thousands of FSU Alumni for Homecoming

In Tallahassee, power restoration was expected to be “substantially complete” by late Wednesday, Rob McGarrah, the general manager of the Tallahassee electric company, told the Tallahassee Democrat.

“We know for those 5,000 customers that are out there, they’re frustrated,” McGarrah said. “We are working to get them back on….We have to go through the priority process to get on as many customers as we can the quickest.”

Many of the evacuees, first responders, utility linemen and area residents who sought refuge from the storm remain in Tallahassee’s sold-out hotels, the Democrat reported. In addition, thousands of Florida State alumni and supporters are expected in town for homecoming when the FSU Seminoles will play Wake Forest University on Saturday.

“Hotel managers and owners are already getting calls and trying to piece together a solution. Options include relocating guests to other properties or moving them into smaller rooms,” the newspaper added.

Hotel Managers Encouraged to be Creative in Finding Space for Everyone

“Reservations must be honored, but hotel managers are being encouraged to be creative,” Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association spokeswoman Amanda Handley told the newspaper. The association has 22 member hotels in Tallahassee.

“We want our members to be very sensitive. (People) are coming in because they have fled the storm and potentially lost everything or they have come in to provide invaluable assistance as we work to recover,” Handley added. “We’re not going to kick these people out on the street.”

Georgia and Alabama Honoring Prescription Refills for Floridians

In addition, the governors of Florida’s neighboring states of Georgia and Alabama have authorized pharmacies in their states to honor Florida prescription refills for people who have been affected and displaced by Michael.

Legally, prescriptions from one state can be filled in another state at the discretion of the pharmacist, licensed pharmacist Paul Michael O’Reilly explained. Something as simple as “a cholesterol medication, should be no problem at all,” he said. “However, the pharmacist might choose to call and verify the prescription.”

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