PANAMA CITY Fla. — In the weeks following Hurricane Michael, gas and rental property prices skyrocketed. Those costs have come down some, but most are not as low as they were before the storm and many people are wondering why no one was charged with price gouging.
Jessica Holland is one of these Panama City residents. She rented her home for $900 a month, but it was lost during the storm. The owners have since rebuilt the home, but she says they’re now charging $2,000 dollars a month.
“It’s impossible to pay that kind of money for just one bill,“ said Holland.
She says that it’s forced her and her kids to live in this camper until they can find somewhere more affordable.
“I feel like I’m failing as a mother because I can’t even provide basic necessities for my kids right now,“ said Holland.
And she’s not the only one.
“My mom’s rent was four hundred dollars,“ said Mary Lieto, another Panama City resident. “They raised it up to seven hundred after the storm for a molded, nasty house that they’re not fixing.“
WMBB has received hundreds of phone calls with similar stories since Hurricane Michael, but those complaints don’t seem to be reaching the Florida attorney general’s office. They say they only receive a couple reports a week.
Ashley Moody, the Attorney General of Florida, is launching a new tool to help; a price gouging app called “NO SCAM” that allows users to report complaints directly to Moody’s office.
“Often times government works at its best when citizens are willing to be engaged and offer assistance in helping us do our jobs,“ said Moody.
Her office confirmed there are several Bay County price gouging investigations underway.
Through the app, users can submit photos, receipts, and any other information related to possible price gouging, helping investigators get involved much earlier. For more information on the app and how to use it click here.