Hurricane Irma: Watch as eyewall of weakening storm passes through Fort Myers Andrew West/news-press.com
Property damage inflicted on Lee County by Hurricane Irma is close to three-quarters of a billion dollars, according to preliminary estimates released Friday.
Assessed damages from the storm include commercial, residential and other structures, totaled $742,051,532 according to initial assessments that were conducted as of the end of business Thursday.
Property damage assessments, performed by affected counties, are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's effort to prioritize response in a disaster.
"It's like triage in an emergency room, someone who is complaining of chest pain is going to be treated differently than someone with a broken hand," said FEMA spokesman David Collins. "At the end of the day, everyone submits a claim, but in the yearly stages you look at the emergency needs, such as placing a roof over someone's head."
According to the findings, 89 homes in the county were destroyed, while nearly 3,000 residential properties sustained major damage.
FEMA guidelines define major damage as damage that reaches half of the building's value.
The value of damage to homes in the county that were destroyed or suffered major damage totaled more than $55 million.
Total residential property damage is $649 million. More than 24,000 homes in the county — about 20 percent of those checked as of Thursday evening — suffered damage amounting to 15 percent or more of the property's value.
Assessments have been performed on more than 115,000 homes using the property appraiser's official valuations.
Hardest hit were mobile homes. Damage assessments for those dwellings allocated a $10,000 damage valuation because the tax status of mobile homes depends on whether the homeowner owns the real estate on which the trailer sits.
Help may soon be provided for people whose homes are uninhabitable because of the hurricane.
The county has asked for help through FEMA's Direct Housing mission, which aids affected residents transition from temporary shelter into more permanent housing.
Collins, the FEMA spokesman, said the housing mission means developing a long-term plan to help people find permanent solutions to their housing issues.
"There has been an issue with some of the available housing space in Florida where it seems to be at a premium," he said. "The housing mission is looking at longer term goals to get from the emergency situation and transition to a more stable environment where they can assist themselves."
Eligible residents could be provided with rental assistance. Travel trailers and mobile homes could also be made available, if needed, a Lee County spokeswoman said.
As part of the initial assessment, there were three commercial structures listed as destroyed in initial assessments, and 35 listed with major damage. The worst hit properties accounted for some $12 million of the $85 million in loss to commercial and industrial property.
The destroyed commercial properties included a small business in Cape Coral, a building used by an agricultural business on Green Meadow road off of State Road 82, and a boatyard in the south part of the county.
Assessments have been conducted on more than 3,200 commercial structures and 80 percent reported no damage.
Damage assessments are compiled by local governments and forwarded to the state Division of Emergency Management.
Guidelines for major damage include indications that water reached 18 inches above the floor or above electrical outlets, failure of roofing or structural wall elements and significant cracks, bulges or crumbling of foundations.
Hurricane Irma's toll
Commercial: 3 / $1.2 million
Residential: 89 / $9.8 million
Major damage (50%)
Commercial: 35 / $10,766,412
Residential: 2,080 / $46,510,362