‘Deplorable situations’: thousands of homes damaged countywide after Ian

By ELAINE ALLEN-EMRICH, The Daily Sun, Dec 18, 2022.

MURDOCK — Homeowners denied federal assistance should reapply or appeal, Charlotte County Emergency Manager Patrick Fuller said.

This week, Fuller told Charlotte County commissioners 54,559 residents have requested assistance so far through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Residents are still encouraged to apply.

He said the state recently launched an additional housing program; however, residents must be denied by FEMA to qualify for temporary housing in a RV or travel trailer.

Residents can apply for help at Tringali Community Center in Englewood and the Charlotte Cultural Center.

Fuller’s comments came Tuesday during an update from county staff to Charlotte County commissioners about Hurricane Ian recovery.

“Once people apply, it’s important to be engaged with applications,” Fuller said. “They can’t move forward if the application is incomplete. We really are going to push for people to apply for the Disaster Assistance Program.”

Human Services Department Director Carrie Walsh told commissioners there are currently four households living in the emergency shelter slated to close Dec. 15.

She said 2,334 people self-reported major damage to their homes, with 723 homes destroyed and “thousands more with various aspects of damage.”

In addition, 187 residents have sought shelter since the storm.

With the help of nonprofits, the majority have found housing; some in other counties and out of state.

Walsh said FEMA is reevaluating its rules for special flood hazard area, and it’s estimated it will take 15 to 35 days to identify each applicant for a mobile trailer. Applicants work with a case management agent and must meet monthly with a FEMA representative.

The state’s program allows qualified residents to live in a state-issued RV or travel trailer until March 29. The process takes 15 to 20 days but the home must be uninhabitable. So far, 498 applicants statewide have applied for that program.

Commissioners acknowledged some residents were struggling before the storm.

“People are still living in deplorable situations,” County Commissioner Bill Truex said. “To know there are (mobile home) units available that aren’t yet filled by families in need is heartbreaking. We have the ability to do things locally, we ought to be open to new suggestions. People in need don’t know who to call. This is the worst part of the storm, not knowing what to do or how to navigate the resources.”

Residents are rebuilding. The county issued 13,000 permits since after the hurricane, with about 10,000 of them for roofing and repairs and the rest in electrical and pool cages.

County staff is doing about 1,500 inspections in a day, compared to the typical 900.

The county is getting help from state licensed inspectors in Sarasota and Osceola counties.

The Building Department said it’s trying to hire more inspectors. The department issued 9,000 permits in November.

The board has also voted to temporarily suspend regulations on mobile homes, RVs and other temporary housing until 2024. Mobile homes can be temporarily located inside of the front setback.

New manufactured homes and replacement ones do not have to be installed on a permanent foundation.

Mobile homes can be temporarily placed as emergency housing in residential single and multi-family family neighborhoods.

Email: elaine.allen@yoursun.com

 Image Credits: Workers began deliver modular trailers to an empty lot near next to The Shoppes at Price Crossing shopping center at Price and Toledo Blade boulevards in North Port. SUN PHOTO BY CHRIS PORTER