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Three shelters quickly closed

Tornado victims in Pinellas Park and Largo had three shelters available soon after the storm hit Saturday, but hardly anyone used them.

Although the Red Cross estimates that more than 1,300 homes were damaged and more than 200 people left homeless, the shelters, at Chapel on the Hill in Seminole, Bauder Elementary School in Seminole and Nina Harris Elementary School in Pinellas Park, served few storm victims. As a result, the Red Cross closed the shelters and opened two service centers in Largo and Pinellas Park on Tuesday.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 8001 46th St. N in Pinellas Park, and the Pinellas County Cooperative Extension Service, 12175 125th St. N, Largo, are providing counselors to help people find temporary housing, emergency home repairs, transportation, food and clothing. The centers operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Insurance policies

need to be reviewed

Now is a good time to take a look at your property insurance policy, said Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher after touring devastated sections of Pinellas Park. He suggested residents consider paying extra premiums for replacement value insurance instead of actual cash value, which pays only depreciated cost of belongings.

Gallagher said many renters do not get insurance because they assume their possessions aren't worth enough to justify the premiums. But renters' insurance can pay temporary hotel expenses of people displaced by disaster, he said. Hotel and restaurant bills can add up quickly and "furniture and clothing can really add up," said Mike Schlensker, a spokesman for Allstate Insurance Cos.

Another word of caution: When a hurricane watch or warning is announced, agents lose their authority to issue new policies until the danger has passed.

Interfaith group

offers assistance

An interfaith group is being formed to respond to long-term recovery needs of tornado victims in Pinellas Park and Largo, the Rev. William Nix, disaster response consultant for Church World Service, said Tuesday. The group will meet at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Good Samaritan Church, 6085 Park Blvd. N in Pinellas Park. Nix said Church World Service, an arm of the New York-based National Council of Churches, would be a "resource and enabler," but members of the local group would "decide on their officers, how they're going to operate, what they will try to accomplish." The meeting is open to representatives of all interested churches and synagogues, Nix said.

Automobile glass

in short supply

Hurricane Andrew and the tornadoes Saturday have made automobile glass a hot item, meaning Pinellas County tornado victims may have to shop around to get repairs. Some auto glass businesses are scrambling to get more glass, especially pieces that are not replaced often. "We just weren't prepared for this. We're trying to get parts from out of state," said Michelle Hughes at the Glass Doctor in Largo.

Tom Midulla, an owner of Econo Auto Glass, said he still has a crew in the Miami area but he gets glass from a national warehouse and has it available for repairs in Pinellas County. Nelson Boyd at The Glass Man in Clearwater is getting some glass from New York.

Some parts are scarce. "We haven't got them because they are things you usually don't have a high demand for. Now there has been such a demand, we're kind of drained," Boyd said. "Our suppliers are bringing in truckloads as fast as they can."

Salvation Army

collecting donations

The Salvation Army, 3800 Ninth Ave. N, is accepting donations in the form of cash and checks for tornado victims. The money will be used to purchase food. Checks, that should be made payable to the Salvation Army and marked for tornado relief, can be mailed to the Salvation Army, 3800 Ninth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, FL 33713. For information, call 323-2222.

_ Staff writers SABRINA MILLER, ROBERT TRIGAUX, and THOMAS J. BILLITTERI contributed to this report