Hurricane Irma was a devastating force in the state of Florida not only when she hit as a Cat 3-4 strength hurricane but the on going aftermath our residents are dealing with.
Nearly 5 million Florida residents lost power ( and at the time of this blog many still have not been restored ) FPL and LCEC have been working around the clock in dangerous conditions. We are so very thankful for these lineman who have left their families to restore power to our community. If you see them out there, offer up some gratitude.
Rivers and coastal waterways experienced significant flooding, even inland areas that were not in the surge or evacuation zones became impassible. In Lehigh Acres, Florida we witnessed hurricane force winds and flooding creating white caps on the streets. In Fort Myers, Florida severe flood and wind damage, potential sink holes have developed adding to the destruction.
Seawalls in Cape Coral, Florida and throughout Lee County, Florida are beginning to collapse causing thousands and thousands of dollars of damages usually not covered by insurance.
Vehicles were flooded, sunk, or floated away
Trees were uprooted, homes destroyed or severely damaged.
Drinking water with high fecal matter and e coli counts.
This list goes on and on…
Many calls we received at KDC Home Protection Services were from panicked absentee homeowners who waited too long to verify if their management companies had secured their homes or simply had no management or Accredited Home Watch Company looking after their most valuable asset. Management companies were calling us to deal with the overflow of Home checks that their depleted staff resources needed help with ( many employees evacuated out of state ). I am proud to say we also worked around the clock up until the eve of the storm helping to secure, photograph and advise concerned home owners who were not present to do so themselves. Here are some things we observed:
- Homeowners with no hurricane shutters at all. This was a challenge as nearly every large chain such as Home Depot and Lowes, as well as the smaller stores were sold out of plywood. Everyone realized they were in trouble at the same time. Solution? If plywood is the only investment you are willing or can afford to make, buy your sheets now, cut them to fit, purchase the correct hardware, weatherproof each piece and label each one for easy identification. Do not wait for the next emergency.
- Homeowners who had shutters and had never installed them or inventoried them in the case of new construction. Several homeowners we encountered were astonished they were short specific sizes to complete covering their door and window openings, or had too many of another size. Their shutters were lined up in the exact spot the builder had left them, however, they were never inventoried by the homeowner-it was assumed they had the proper shutters and sizes. Solution? When you purchase a primary or Florida vacation home that comes with shutters, spend a day to do a test run and make sure you have the proper coverage for your home and the hardware! Several homes had bolts on the first floor but required wingnuts on the second floor. Guess what happened-no wing nuts or hardware to be found three counties wide the day before the storm. Even Home Depot closed at noon on Friday before Hurricane Irma hit…
- Homeowners who depended on friends or family to secure or check on their home before, during, and after Hurricane Irma. Mandatory evacuations throughout the area and the dangerous conditions made it unrealistic to expect anyone to put their families at risk to make sure your pool furniture was put away or your breakers were off. Most neighborhoods were inaccessible with flooding and downed power lines afterwards. Many families who fled could not purchase gas or pass the gridlock to return. Solution? Hire a Nationally Accredited Home Watch Company who makes it their business to secure your home.
- For those who could not evacuate by choice or otherwise and were not prepared for the power loss and did not have a generator, or those who had not started their generator in years, we know this was brutal. I would trade my next vacation for a working generator when faced with 7 days in Florida with no power, and gas plenty of gas. We would like to explore several different generator options in a future blog.
- Communication was at a complete stand still. Cell towers were down all over the area. No Power, water, communication was terrifying as families tried to check on loved ones. It was a feeling of utter isolation we have never experienced before, and for many we have spoken with-the worst part of the storm and aftermath. Again, in a future blog we would like to open a dialogue about communication in an emergency.
We at the KDC Home Protection family are saddened by the loss of our community, our families, our friends. Our heart goes out to everyone who is still without power, to those who are trapped with no air and have medical needs, to those who lost pets in the mayhem. We will be stronger, we will learn to be better prepared, and we will survive.
Below are a list of resources for those who have experienced loss in this tragedy: