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Governor: Hurricane Ian took Lee, Collier counties off the grid; FEMA assistance program is activated; storm damage guidelines listed

This satellite image taken at 3:06 p.m. EDT and provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Ian making landfall in southwest Florida near Cayo Costa, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, as a catastrophic Category 4 storm. (NOAA via AP)
This satellite image taken at 3:06 p.m. EDT and provided by NOAA shows Hurricane Ian making landfall in southwest Florida near Cayo Costa, Fla., on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, as a catastrophic Category 4 storm. (NOAA via AP)

At a briefing this morning at the State Emergency Operations Center governor Ron DeSantis said Lee & Collier Counties are basically off the grid and it’s going to take more than reconnecting lines to restore power to many people but is more of an infrastructure issue at this point.

He said more than 100 portable cell towers are being deployed in southwest Florida so cell service remains intermittent across the region.

The state has deployed more than 100 engineers to begin checking the structural integrity of bridges before they can re-open. The Sanibel Causeway and Pine Island Bridge both sustained serious damage and will remain impassible indefinitely.


FEMA has activated its individual assistance program…call 1-800-621-262 or go to FEMA.gov to register. The program provides financial and direct services to eligible individuals and households affected by a disaster, who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs.

Florida Division of Emergency Management director, Kevin Guthrie, said they had already received more than 15000 inputs from people who are sheltering in place to the states shelter in place system.
If you need help register at floridadisaster.org/report.

Storm Damage Guidelines

If your home has sustained damage due to storms, follow these guidelines from the Charlotte County Community Development Department.

    1. Carefully assess the damage to your home and take pictures.
    1. Call your insurance agent.
    1. Prevent further damage by carefully tarping the roof and boarding up windows. (no permit required)
    1. If the home has sustained structural damage, contact licensed and insured contractors to provide multiple estimates for repairing the damage.
    1. Research contractors by calling the Building Department’s Contractor Licensing Division 941- 743-1201 and reviewing the state website, www.myfloridalicense.com
    1. If the home was deemed unsafe by the building department, collect your valuables and seek a temporary place to stay until permits are obtained, and repairs are made to make the home safe again.
    1. If the home is located in a flood zone and the cost to repair or improve the home exceeds 50% of the building value (excluding land value), the home will need to be elevated to the current base flood elevation. The cost of previously permitted repairs and improvements within the last 12 months will be included to the cumulative total when calculating the costs. The building value can be determined from the County Property Appraiser or a private individual appraisal.
    1. Should you choose to demolish all or a portion of the home, a building permit will be required.
    1. Engineered plans will be required when obtaining a building permit for structural repairs to foundations, walls, ceilings, rafters, and trusses.
    1. If only replacing windows and doors, a simple floorplan sketch with Florida product approvals from the supplier would be required for the building permit.
    1. If replacing only the roof covering (shingles, metal, tile) a permit can be obtained online or over the counter by a contractor.
    1. An owner may obtain an owner/builder permit if the home is owned in their personal name (no corporation, LLC or business name). The home cannot be currently rented and cannot be rented or leased within 12 months of the permit closing. Manufactured home owners on leased land do qualify.
    1. If an owner/builder permit is obtained, you must sign an affidavit stating you will abide by the applicable laws and provide supervision of all work. Anyone hired that is not licensed must be your employee with FICA payroll deductions and proper workers compensation insurance.
    1. Avoid a contractor that asks you to obtain an owner/builder permit for them to do the job. They most likely not licensed or insured.
    1. Read construction contracts carefully and seek legal consultation.
    1. Avoid paying contractors in cash and keep all receipts.
    1. If a deposit of more than 10% is given, the contractor is bound by Florida law to apply for the permits within 30 days and begin work within 90 days of permit issuance, unless mutually agreed to longer time in writing.
    1. Request copies of lien waivers from the contractor to show that subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.
    1. Do not pay the final installment until all work is complete and the final inspection has been made by the building department.

Monitor the progress of the building permit and inspections on the Charlotte County Citizen Access Portal: www.charlottecountyfl.gov. Call 941-743-1201 with any questions.

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