Ian Leaves Broken Hearts, Hopefully It Can Also Open Eyes - November 2022

Mon, Nov 14, 2022 at 8:00AM

Mike Silvers, CPRC, Silvers Systems Inc. and FRSA Director of Technical Services

I’m writing this article roughly a week after Hurricane Ian battered the state as one of the largest and deadliest hurricanes to hit Florida since 1935. Coincidentally, last month I discussed the potential of a similar scenario to Ian and the impact it could have on Florida’s ongoing property insurance crisis as well as its post-hurricane economy (see October FRM - If You’re Not Concerned, You May Not Be Paying Attention – floridaroof.com/frm10-22p16). I talked about a major storm hitting a highly developed area such as metropolitan Miami or the Tampa Bay region.

As Ian approached, it looked as if that might happen. My family watched with great concern as the path at one point had the eye passing over our home in Manatee County, which is on the south end of Tampa Bay. But as the storm progressed, it started moving more toward the east, just as Hurricane Charley had done in 2004. We were obviously relieved that we wouldn’t see the worst of the storm, but those feelings of joy were mixed with some guilt knowing what our neighbors to the south were about to endure. I am heartbroken by the devastation Ian caused and even more so by the staggering loss of life left in its wake. So many of us live near the coast because we are drawn here by the beauty and serenity that the marine environment offers. To think that the same water that attracts us also has the ability to engulf us in such an unforgiving way is sobering.

Post Ian Damage Survey

If you’ve followed my column, you know that I am committed to conduct post-hurricane roof damage observations within the first week after a major storm hits Florida. I’ve done so after Irma, Michael and now Ian. What I’m able to see adds to the knowledge gained by responding to previous storms as a contractor. Getting to the scene early is important. Temporary roof repairs and tarping begin almost as soon as the winds decrease. This obviously makes viewing roof damage much more difficult if not impossible. After hurricanes, I also review as many pictures and reports as I can find in the media as well as pouring over NOAA
satellite imagery of the damaged areas (storms.ngs.noaa.gov).

The NOAA site allows us to look for roof damage and pinpoint areas to inspect. If you use the site, you will need to zoom in very close to the dark areas on the map to see individual buildings. If you have the opportunity, please share with me any roof damage pictures you take and any of your observations (silvers@floridaroof.com). The storm surge that hit Fort Myers Beach and bulldozed most structures in its path reminded me how Michael had done the same in Mexico Beach. Many buildings were reduced to nothing but concrete slabs and debris. A literal army of researchers (Army Corp of Engineers and FEMA Mitigation Assessment Teams) and others will evaluate the damage from storm surge and flooding. They will come to conclusions based on their observations and make recommendations to reduce the hazard by amending the building code. Further strengthening and raising of buildings that are in the flood plain will be proposed and, most likely, implemented. Beachfront establishments that have offered the familiar experience of dining and drinking on a beachfront patio, as well as any other near grade structures, will not be allowed to rebuild at ground level, forever changing our beachfront landscape. Read more.

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