Destruction numbers are in, and they’re huge

Catastrophic claims specialist help South Florida after Irma

Eric Kline, a catastrophic claims specialist, visits residents in Kendall after Hurricane Irma made its way through South Florida.
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Eric Kline, a catastrophic claims specialist, visits residents in Kendall after Hurricane Irma made its way through South Florida.

Hurricane Irma destroyed 675 residential and commercial structures in unincorporated Monroe County and damaged thousands of others, according to a preliminary assessment by county government staff.

“Some are saying it’s worse than that,” county Mayor George Neugent said Tuesday.

Of the 675 structures, 465 were on Big Pine Key, the assessment says. Eighty-one were on Cudjoe Key. Houses also were crushed on Big Coppitt Key, Geiger Key, Little Torch Key, Lower Sugarloaf Key, Ramrod Key, Stock Island, Rockland Key, Sugarloaf Key, Summerland Key and Scout Key.

Twenty-three houses were destroyed in Key Largo and 10 on Conch Key.

The assessments were done by county staff going house to house, looking at the exteriors. Inspectors did not enter the buildings.

The report says 583 structures had “major” damage and 2,739 sustained “minor” damage. Overall, 10,009 houses were “affected” by the Category 4 Irma that landed Sept. 10 and 3,884 were not affected in the unincorporated areas.

County building inspectors are still evaluating damage to structures and placing placards on those that have “major damage” (those get an orange placard attached to the front that say “unsafe structure stay out”) and “destroyed” (they get a red placard that says “dangerous keep out”).

County information officer Cammy Clark says if you find one of these placards on your property, call (305) 453-8816. County employees can help you obtain the inspection reports and pictures. That’s important information you will need to work with your insurance companies or the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the process of recovery.

If your home has an orange placard, you need to retain a licensed contractor to make improvements to help remedy unsafe conditions or your must be qualified as an owner builder and bring your home back to a habitable state.

If your home has a red placard, building inspectors that inspected the home have indicated the structure is beyond repair and demolition is necessary.

County inspection teams are also inspecting structures in cooperation with the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative and Keys Energy Services, the Florida Keys’ two power companies. If your structure is posted with an orange sticker that says “do not reconnect any utilities such as water, gas or electric,” contact a licensed electrician so your electric connections can be restored or you must be qualified as an owner builder eligible to make the repairs. Obtain permits from the building department so power can be restored once safe.

Larry Kahn: 305-440-3218