October 12, 2017

Local, state and federal representatives will hold a meeting Friday in Big Pine Key to update the community about ongoing hurricane recovery issues including tagging homes that have been damaged or destroyed and debris removal.

A preliminary damage assessment by the county found that 675 homes in the unincorporated areas of the county were destroyed in the storm, 583 suffered major damage, 2,739 suffered minor damage and 10,000 were affected.

Assistant County Administrator Christine Hurley called the information “preliminary.”

“This is NOT the data we have obtained from more detailed safety inspections, used for placarding buildings,” Hurley wrote in an email to her fellow county employees earlier this week. “That data will be released soon. For the safety inspections, we recheck those structures designated as Major Damage or Destroyed for placarding.”

Also, separate from this preliminary data is substantial damage inspections related to flooding. More information will be released about those inspections a bit later, Hurley wrote.

County inspection teams have visited homes throughout the Florida Keys to determine the condition of structures after Hurricane Irma. The teams have placed stickers on homes stating the extent of damage.

A home with a red placard means a licensed building inspector has inspected the structure and “the structure is beyond repair and demolition is necessary,” according to a press release by the county.

An orange placard means that a home has suffered “major damage” and the property owners need “to retain a licensed contractor to make improvements” to bring the “home back to a habitable state,” the county stated. 

A structure with an orange sticker means that the owner must “contact a licensed electrician to do electric work” so electric connections can be restored or be qualified as an owner builder eligible to make the repairs, the county press release stated.

There has been some blow back about the inspections being reported on social media. However, County Attorney Bob Shillinger said a county inspector can legally go to the door of a home and any damage they see in “plain view”  they can report.

The county does have the legal authority to place the placards on the home, Shillinger said.

Hurley said the inspections will help residents with insurance claims.

Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, county staff and representatives from state Rep. Holly Raschein’s office, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and and Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in attendance to answer questions at Friday’s meeting.

The meeting will be at 4 p.m. at the Keys Community Church, 30300 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key.

tohara@keysnews.com