There are now 199 households in the Florida Keys that have registered to have basic repairs made to their homes through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Monroe County officials say.
The Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program known as STEP is a $10 million grant program in the Keys providing up to $20,000 in repairs to primary homes damaged but not destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
It is not too late to apply for the program.
The purpose of the rapid-repair program is to enable eligible individuals or families to take shelter in their homes while they rebuild. This includes a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and air-conditioning for the livable area of the home. The program is at no cost to the homeowner.
As of Friday, 53 households throughout Monroe County had gone through the inspection phase and have been approved for repairs. The first construction work is scheduled to begin next week, possibly as early as Monday The approved household locations are 20 on Big Pine Key, 16 on Marathon, six on Cudjoe Key, five on Summerland Key, two on Islamorada, two on Little Torch Key and one each in Key West and Tavernier.
STEP is available for disaster-damaged, single-family, owner-occupied residential properties in Monroe County. These include duplexes, townhomes, modular homes and permanently placed mobile homes. Other types of owner-occupied residences may be eligible on a case-by-case basis.
If you own the mobile home and live in the mobile home but lease the site where it is located, you are eligible for the program.
A home is not eligible if it cannot be made safe for sheltering purposes, including due to the presence of excessive toxic or hazardous materials, for less than the $20,000 cap. However, if the price to make it livable is not much more than $20,000, it is possible to have volunteer groups, the homeowners or others do some of the cleanup or repairs to make the contracted work price tag fall under the cap.
STEP Is not available for travel trailers, RVs, commercial properties and commonly owned areas, structures or equipment.
To apply call (800) 960-5860. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After applying by phone, required documentation can be scanned and emailed to Step@monroecounty-fl.gov.
Monroe County is the recipient of the FEMA grant for the STEP program, which is being administered by the state. The contracted work for the repairs is paid directly by Monroe County. Here is an example of an approved household and the work that will be done:
Homeowners on Big Pine applied for STEP help. Their home is raised about 3 feet from the ground and was inundated with about 30 inches of storm surge inside. The metal roof also was damaged by high winds. Inspectors found the homeowners living in their shed. They were unable to shelter in their home due to multiple hazards.
The homeowners signed a right-of-entry form that allowed inspectors onto their property. Inspectors determined if the home can be repaired to meet the program’s livability and safety criteria, as well as the $20,000 cap.
The damaged roof sections will be repaired with a self-adhesive membrane roofing material that will ensure the leaks are taken care of. Two of the exterior doors were deteriorated past the point of being able to operate (open/close/lock). They will be replaced with a basic insulated metal door and hardware.
The subfloors were severely damaged in certain areas. These areas will be replaced with CDX sheathing (exterior plywood) to ensure the flooring system is safe and secure. Interior drywall that was below the flood line was removed.
Wooden access stairs to the home were severely damaged. They will be replaced with treated wooden stairs that meet local and national codes (handrails and landing).
The electrical system was damaged in the saltwater storm surge. The outlets and service panel that were submerged will be replaced. The water heater was missing, and will be replaced to provide hot water to shower.
To outfit a usable bathroom, a bathroom was privatized with an interior door and water-resistant drywall (unfinished/unpainted). A simple fiberglass shower, toilet and pedestal sink will be installed.
The kitchen will be usable by the installation of a temporary sink (double sink in a rough framed base), a food preparation surface (framed base similar to sink with a laminate top) and a small-appliance package to enable storage and preparation of food.
The central air conditioning system was severely damaged (condenser submerged) and not running at the time of inspection. To air condition the living space, window unit air conditioners will be installed.
The home will be outfitted with smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector for safety.