Citizens’ Catastrophe Response Centers (CRCs) are Citizens’ advanced outposts that deploy to disaster zones to meet face-to-face with policyholders unable to file claims due to power outages, network crashes or a myriad of other hurdles caused by a storm.
Part of Citizens’ overall disaster response, the CRCs are staffed by volunteers who undergo special training before being deployed into the field. Despite all the technology – satellite feeds, internet and Wi-Fi capabilities – the people in the field make CRCs successful.
Being deployed to a catastrophe zone is not for the faint of heart. Employees are deployed to areas where people may have lost virtually everything. Most are grappling with the logistics of recovery. Others are still processing the trauma they have just experienced.
Citizens’ underwriter Katie Wallace recalled listening as a Fort Myers policyholder told how their family hid in an attic of their Sanibel Island home with a chainsaw as flood waters rose – eventually forcing the couple to evacuate from their roof onto a boat and off the island.
“As an insurance company, we’re supposed to be able to respond in their time of need – and I feel like I’m able to fulfill that here,” Wallace said.
Citizens’ volunteers see firsthand the sometimes-indescribable havoc caused by a major hurricane. Often, the stories are heartbreaking. For many volunteers, it is a transformational experience.
“It can be overwhelming,” said Citizens volunteer Babi Pankey-David. “Sometimes you have to just step aside to catch your breath and be calm for the next customer.”
The days are long but volunteers say the satisfaction they get from helping policyholders makes up for any hardship.
“When you see them smile and they shake your hand, it makes it all worthwhile,” said Nicholas Gonzalez, who was deployed to Fort Myers following Hurricane Ian.
Just in Case: Here’s How to Find Us
Additionally, Citizens is a primary sponsor of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN). Following a storm, information on CRC locations is posted on the FPREN website and mobile app. Locations are also broadcast over your local public radio station. When appropriate, Citizens will also purchase commercial media space to get the word out.