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A Message From PIA's President

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Johnny Lee President's Message PicJuly/August 2014

August 2014 marks the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of a string of killer hurricanes that, over two years, devastated Florida and the Gulf Coast of the United States.

It doesn't seem like it was that long ago.

On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley made landfall in southwest Florida as a strong Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. That made it the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in 1992.

Charley was the first of what would be a series of destructive hurricanes to hit the U.S. in 2004 and 2005, which included the devastating Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, Ivan, Rita, Frances and Jeanne. Together, they caused around $100 billion worth of insured losses when adjusted to today’s dollars, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Of course, everyone remembers Hurricane Katrina. It caused tragedy on a massive scale for the people of New Orleans, the surrounding Louisiana parishes as well as Mississippi and Alabama.

Jody Boudreaux, executive vice president of PIA of Louisiana, at the time told of one agent who came into the PIA headquarters seeking help after losing his father. Two other members of PIA of Louisiana suffered terrible losses; one lost his father, the other his mother. Both had drowned in a flooded New Orleans nursing home. Weeks later, another agent who was finally able to go back to what was left of his office in New Orleans had to walk by dead bodies in the street to get there. A number of agents lost their agencies and had to start over from scratch.

Then, just after all the water had been pumped out of New Orleans, another big hurricane, Rita, devastated portions of southwest Louisiana and eastern Texas. In the days following Katrina and then Rita, PIA National worked closely with PIA affiliates to coordinate and help any way possible.

A call went out to PIA members in other parts of the country to volunteer to host family members of displaced agents—all independent agents, not just PIA members. Over 100 PIA members from as far away as Maine and Montana volunteered to host displaced agents. The PIA National board of directors voted to approve emergency assistance for affected PIA affiliates.

Throughout the hurricanes of 2004-2005—and eight years later after Superstorm Sandy—PIA members did what we always do. We reached out to help our neighbors, our clients and our fellow agents in a time of need. This is not unusual. It is a part of our core values.

PIA is much more than just a trade association. We are the PIA Family and families stick together. We care about our fellow family members, our neighbors and our communities.

It is who we are: Local Agents Serving Main Street America.

John G. Lee
President