Everglades City looks to capture grants to help rebuild after Hurricane Irma
For many in Everglades City, much of the last six months have been spent fighting with insurance companies for money to repair or replace homes and roofs.
Blue tarps still dot much of the city.
With most restaurants and businesses now reopened, the city is turning its focus to grants — to capture as much money as it can from any programs from the state and federal governments and nonprofits to help residents rebuild.
"Insurance companies have been, for lack of a better word, horrible," said Mayor Howie Grimm. "The biggest problem is a lot of homes are still fighting for money."
The city is meeting with grant writers to help residents navigate a Community Development Block Grant program administered by the county. The city is also trying to capture funds for its own operations, to replace washed out roads and its aging sewage treatment plant.
Collier County gave about $83,000 raised from a December hurricane relief concert to Everglades City. The city is using it with Habitat for Humanity of Collier County to elevate as many homes as possible above flood lines.
Habitat is reviewing applicants now, said CEO Lisa Lefkow.
"We're hoping to green light our first application here pretty quickly," Lefkow said.
It's still unclear how many homes in Everglades City, Chokoloskee and Plantation Island will need to be raised to meet new flood standards. Any home or trailer that had damage worth more than 50 percent of the value of the home will have to meet current codes.
Lefkow estimates that the $83,000, along with money from Habitat's international headquarters could be used to elevate three or four homes.