|August 24, 2017
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
|en Español||Print Version||Tweet|
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Twenty-five years ago today Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida. The Category 5 storm caused more than $25 billion worth of property damage and caused 44 direct and indirect fatalities in Florida. In the aftermath of the storm, looting, repair scams and price gouging complaints were reported to law enforcement and the Florida Attorney General’s Office.
“When Andrew hit 25 years ago, dozens of lives were lost, people were left homeless and businesses and entire neighborhoods were destroyed,” said Attorney General Bondi. “We cannot prevent a massive storm like Hurricane Andrew from impacting our state, but if we prepare now, we can minimize the damage and keep ourselves and our families safe.”
Following Hurricane Andrew, local, state and federal government agencies made changes to be better prepared to respond to major disasters and the chaos that often follows. The state enacted a law that prohibits price gouging during a declared state of emergency and gave the Florida Attorney General’s Office the authority to investigate price gouging complaints.
Now, state law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period. In addition to the civil penalties for price gouging, state law criminalizes the sale of goods and services to the public without possession of an occupational license. Violators of the law can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
In the years following Andrew, Floridians have learned the dangers of not preparing for a storm. Every year, the Florida Attorney General’s Office releases its Hurricane Preparedness Guide—providing a checklist of preparedness items and tips on how to avoid price gouging and other storm related scams.
There are more than two months left of the Atlantic Hurricane Season and it is not too late to prepare. To view Attorney General Bondi’s Hurricane Preparedness Guide, click here.