What follows are updates meant to help our clients, families and friends as they struggle to recover in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which traveled up the entire state of Florida beginning the weekend of Sept. 8, 2017.
- Town hall meeting is being planned for Sunday, Sept. 17, in Cutler Bay on the status of recovery in Key West ~ Sept. 14 @ 6:30 p.m. via Commissioner Kaufman
- FEMA is going to be setting up a “Roof Tarp” Project in Monroe County to cover roofs on homes that can be saved. The information should be up soon on this site http:www.saj.usace.army.mil/BlueRoof/. They are in the process of getting contractors and the program should be available soon ~ Sept. 14 via Summerland Cove Civic Association
- Monroe County Emergency Management: http://www.keysrecovery.org/
- Monroe County BOCC Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MonroeCountyFLBOCC/ is posting regular updates as are several of the individual commissioners. This is a reliable source we can link to for general updates on the Keys.
- Keys energy power restoration estimates are approximate at this point but for KW to lower Sugarloaf the majority will likely be restored within the week. For upper Sugarloaf to the Seven Mile Bridge restoration will be longer due to significant damage.” ~ Sept. 13 @ 4:55 p.m. via Keys Electric
- United Way of the Florida Keys is accepting donations, http://www.keysunitedway.org/
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott updates: http://www.flgov.com/ – including President Trump’s disaster declaration
- Florida emergency response team: http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp. The state’s emergency information hotline is 1-800-342-3557.
- Operation Blue Roof program available in some Florida counties, https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2017/09/17/4337/operation-blue-roof-program-available-some-florida-counties
- Volunteer Florida, https://www.volunteerflorida.org/irma/: If you are interested in helping your fellow Floridians in need, you can sign up to volunteer through Volunteer Florida. Visit https://voad.communityos.org/volunteer-registration-fl-irma or call 1-800-FL-HELP-1.
- Donate now: If you’d like to contribute to Florida’s recovery efforts, you can text DISASTER to 20222 to make a $10 donation to the Florida Disaster Fund or visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org.
- Red Cross Safe and Well Program, www.safeandwell.org or call 1-844-782-9441, to post your status or look up names
- Price-gouging hotline: Have you seen evidence of scams or price gouging? Call 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-435-7352) for a consumer hotline with operators available to report complaints and assist in resolving issues.
- National Disaster Fraud Hotline, 1-866-720-5721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, to report fraudsters targeting Floridians recovering from Hurricane Irma.
- NOAA Hurriance Irma imagery (zoom in for details), https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/irma/index.html
- American Bar Association disaster relief updates: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/committees/disaster/disaster_relief.html#5
As of Sept. 13, state offices remain closed in the following counties: Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Palm Beach, St. Johns and St. Lucie. Additional state building may closed as well. A full list of closures may be found here: http://www.dms.myflorida.com/business_operations/real_estate_development_and_management/facilities_management/building_closure_information
As of Sept. 13, the capitol is now open.
Emergency powers of the governor, statute 252.36, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0200-0299/0252/Sections/0252.36.html
As of Sept. 13, trial courts, District Courts of Appeal, Florida Supreme Court, and Office of State Courts Administrator closures: Many trial courts and some district courts have opened back up. However, there are some that remain closed through today and even through Friday. Closures may be checked at this site: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/emergency.shtml The Supreme Court and OSCA are open as normal today.
Environmental & Land Use (permitting, etc)
Gov. Scott issued an Executive Order prior to passage of Hurricane Irma declaring a state of emergency in Florida. It authorized suspension of statutes, rules and orders of Florida agencies.
Of particular interest is Section 4B, which authorizes state agencies to suspend any statute, order or rule that may in any way prevent, hinder or delay action in coping with the emergency. If compliance or safety issues arise due to rule or permit limits, such a suspension can be helpful. Also, if relief is needed to allow repair or rebuilding, the Executive Order may also be applicable.
The suspension must be done by emergency order or rule. Emergency relief should be requested as soon as possible, when it is known that relief may be needed. Gunster attorneys have templates for Petitions for Emergency Order or Rule to state or local agencies, which may be helpful, if needed.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have also made provision for withholding enforcement action in certain situations arising due to the storm. However, prompt notice is required regarding noncompliance and corrective actions. Copies of these documents are also available from Gunster attorneys.
The Emergency Order will remain in effect for 60 days from September 4, 2017.
- EPA: https://www.epa.gov/hurricane-response
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/mainpage/em/2017/Irma.html
- South Florida Water Management District‘s Governing Board agenda packet containing SFWMD’s emergency orders, https://apps.sfwmd.gov/webapps/publicMeetings/viewFile/10785 ~ Sept. 21
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/1302019/alternative-emergency-permit-proce/
Post-storm guidance: Coastal construction control line, http://www.dep.state.fl.us/beaches/publications/CY-Storms/CCCL-PostStormPublicInfoHandout.pdf ~ Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Sept. 20
Fort Lauderdale: 90-day building code enforcement policy after Irma: The following policy relates to repairs needed as a result of damages caused by hurricane Irma over the next 90 calendar-day period. ~ from the City of Fort Lauderdale Economic and Community Investment Division, via email 9/20/17 (phone: 954-828-6520)
NO PERMITS REQ’D
- Existing fence repair (compliance with local code applies)
- Minor roof – shingle, individual tile pieces and membrane only
- Landscaping – removal of destroyed trees and site landscape (Replacement trees and landscaping to meet minimum code
- requirements for the site. Use Right-Tree-Right-Place principles and City’s recommended plant list
- Non-structural replacements (i.e. car canopies, gazebos, awnings, etc…)
- Minor irrigation repairs
- Window and Door component repairs and replacement (structural framing requires permit, please see below)
- Screen enclosure and pool barrier repair (non-structural)
- Existing docks and mooring (no additions, extensions or alterations)
PERMITS REQ’D (no fees) – 48 hours to file permit application after the fact
- A/C unit replacement
- Structural repairs for windows and doors
- Structural repairs for roofing
- Existing shed replacement (must be placed in the same location as original)
- Structural repair/replacement (i.e. car canopies, gazebos, awnings, etc…)
- Existing seawall repair (must comply with current seawall ordinance)
PERMITS REQ’D (with fees)
- All new construction
- New structural construction for renovations, alterations and remodeling
- All other permits other than those listed above
Tax relief & financial assistance
- Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, http://www.floridadisasterloan.org/ ~ the state Department of Economic Opportunity administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims.
- Farmers and ranchers affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma granted extra time, procedures, to document and claim disaster losses, https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/1b6dd43 ~ via USDA, 9/13/17
- FEMA aid: To apply for FEMA assistance, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).
- Disaster unemployment assistance: How workers can access the program after Hurricane Irma, http://www.nelp.org/publication/how-workers-access-dua-after-hurricane-irma/
- Florida’s office of insurance regulation issues emergency order. David Altmaier, commissioner of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, issued an emergency order Wednesday that protects policyholders from from abuse by their insurance companies in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. http://floir.com/siteDocuments/Emergency_Order_Irma09132017.pdf
- The Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center has links to complete damage assessments and apply for emergency loans here: http://flvbeoc.org/index.php
- IRS gives tax relief to victims of Hurricane Irma; like Harvey, extension filers have until Jan. 31 to file; additional relief planned, https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-gives-tax-relief-to-victims-of-hurricane-irma-like-harvey-extension-filers-have-until-jan-31-to-file-additional-relief-planned
- Legal aid hotline, 1-866-550-2929, as noted by The Florida Bar in its Sept. 13 news release.
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation deadlines in response to Hurricane Irma in Florida, https://www.pbgc.gov/prac/other-guidance/dr/dr17-11
- Citizens Property Insurance Corporation has created Hurricane Irma FAQs to address issues frequently raised by their personal lines policyholders, https://www.citizensfla.com/irma-faqs ~ Sept. 21
From the Public Service Commission website, http://www.psc.state.fl.us/
- Irma power outage report: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/Files/PDF/Home/OutageReport.pdf ~ as of Sept. 13
- Restoration report: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/Files/PDF/Home/Restoration.pdf ~ as of Sept. 13
As of Sept. 13, 11 of the state’s 12 universities will be closed amid recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma. The only university scheduled to be open is the University of West Florida.
LAST UPDATED 9/25/17. This Gunster blog post will be updated as more information is received.