‘Keys Recovery’ Website Is No Longer Active as of Feb. 1, 2018

February 1, 2018

The website at KeysRecovery.org will no longer be actively updated as of Feb. 1, 2018.

All of the site’s posted content will still be available to visitors, but comments will be disabled and the email address deactivated.

Within three days of Hurricane Irma’s landfall in the Florida Keys Sept. 10, 2017, the website was activated, garnering 165 visits on Sept. 13. On Sept. 14, a total of 91,901 people visited the website, which served up 69,565 page views.

Since then the site has hosted a total of 718,443 visits and served up 1,359,974 page views.

Fresh content and the latest news and information regarding the ongoing Florida Keys recovery is available on the Monroe County website at http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/, or via social media at Facebook, Twitter and MCTV.


Monroe County Is Working to Reopen Parks that Have Been Closed Since Hurricane Irma

February 1, 2018
Monroe County employees put up fencing to block off damaged areas before Harry Harris Park in Tavernier reopens to the public. PHOTO BY Cammy Clark

Monroe County public works crews have been working to reopen county parks that have not been available for public use since Hurricane Irma due to damage suffered from the storm as well as some parks being used for recovery efforts. Here’s the latest update:

Harry Harris Park in Tavernier

Harry Harris Park in Tavernier will be reopened in stages. The first stage is expected to occur during the second weekend of February. This will include the beach, swimming area, a partial playground, the beach bathrooms and the boat ramp, although with a gravel approach rather than asphalt.

Hours will be sunrise to sunset for now due to the lack of power in the park for lights. That includes the bathrooms at the beach.

Park areas north of the boat ramp, including Wilkinson Point and the athletic fields, will remain closed until the remaining vessels are removed and crews can restore those areas.

That part of the park also may see a staged reopening. The schedule will be announced later as work progresses.

The park has been used by Unified Command, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as a staging area for displaced vessels collected in the Upper Keys. Captain David Dipre of the FWC said recently that only about a dozen boats remain at the park. By law, the owners of the boats must be contacted and given 30 days to pick up their boat or sign a release to have it demolished. That process is underway for all the remaining boats, and Dipre said he is hopeful that the last boats will be removed from the park by mid- to late-February.

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Free Supplemental Insurance Workshop on Saturday, January 27

January 26, 2018

Whether you are trying to rebuild a home or business property (or to replace a liveaboard boat or trailer) there will be help for you at this upcoming workshop. The assistance is two-fold. First, insurance expert, Kenneth Browne, will be explaining why you need to file your supplemental insurance claim now that you have received your initial settlement. We are in new stage of recovery that requires a different approach. If you haven’t heard about this supplemental claim stage, come find out about it and get one-on-one free help. The second aspect of the Workshop is geared at those of you who have wrung your resources dry and are at a financial dead end. Becky, a caseworker from the United Methodist Church, will be on-site to help assign tens of thousands of dollars in grant money to home, trailer, boat owners who qualify.

What many property owners don’t know is that their insurance settlement is not the end of the line. Most of the people we’ve met at past workshops did not get enough of a settlement to move forward. Many are just making do because they are tired of fighting. Some (we are not naming names but you know who you are N***;)) are going it solo – poring over their claims with a fine-tooth comb, determined to uncover what newbie adjusters have missed. And others still have hired an experienced public adjuster to do what they do best – squeeze more much-needed money out of the tight-fisted insurance companies.

As insured property owners, all of you have been paying those very same insurance companies for years in preparation for a once-in-a-lifetime event like Irma. Many of you have been let down. We are here to tell you that there is still hope. You deserve the funds to rebuild and we are going to help you get them. Find out how you can better move forward at this Saturday’s workshop.

Supplemental Insurance Workshop

Keys Community Church

30300 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

11am to 1pm

Free to Public

Monroe County to Host Public Meeting for Homeowners Navigating Rebuilding/Permitting Process for Homes Damaged by Hurricane Irma

January 25, 2018

Was your home destroyed or badly damaged by Hurricane Irma and do you need help navigating the rebuilding and repair process in Monroe County?

Monroe County will host a public meeting to explain county processes, provide information and answer your individual questions.

More than 20 county staff employees — including department directors — will be at the meeting. They are subject-matter experts in areas that include building codes, permitting, code compliance, planning and floodplain regulations for Monroe County.

What: Public Meeting: Housing and Permitting

When: Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Lord of the Seas Lutheran Church, 1250 Key Deer Boulevard on Big Pine Key

There will be several tables set up where you can discuss these topics:

• Damage Safety Assessments (Major Damage or Destroyed Placards place on some homes) – what does this mean?

• Substantial Damage letters and Repair Process

• Emergency Permitting/Permit Fee Waivers

• Work without Permits – what is allowed and not allowed?

• Manufactured and Mobile Home Regulations, Replacement and Repair

• Illegal Clearing of vegetation

• ROGO Exemptions process to prove your housing unit was developed legally and can be replaced or repaired

There also will be information about future federal and state recovery grants that may become available for Monroe County homeowners. A Voluntary Interest Survey will be available for homeowners to fill out to indicate which of the following areas they may be interested in pursuing:

• Repair of Damaged Homes

• Replacement of Damaged Home with Code Compliant Home

• Acquisition of Land and Relocation of Home (same house moved to another property)

• Voluntarily Sell Land and House to the County so owner can move to a different home

• Elevate Home above Floodplain

• Wind Retrofit of House by installing hurricane straps, shutters, impact windows, metal roof, reinforced trusses and/or reinforced garage doors

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Monroe County Is Sending Substantial Damage Letters to Some Keys Homeowners

January 17, 2018

Monroe County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides all homeowners and businesses an opportunity to purchase flood insurance at federally subsidized rates.

Following a hurricane, FEMA requires the county and municipalities to make damage inspections and determinations on whether the costs to improve or repair a damaged building or structure are estimated to equal or exceed 50 percent of the building’s fair market value (2017 tax assessed value plus 20 percent).

These determinations are done using software provided by FEMA. The intent is that structures damaged beyond 50 percent need to be improved to meet current floodplain regulations and building codes. That way, in future storms, similar damage will not occur and improving structures will prevent unsafe conditions.

County and FEMA staff worked together to complete inspections for all structures in the flood zone in unincorporated Monroe County to determine if the damage caused by Hurricane Irma is estimated to be “substantial.” Other sources of information were used to determine damage, including flooding depth grids and pre- and post-storm pictorial aerials.

As required by FEMA, the owners of structures in unincorporated Monroe County that appear to be substantially damaged as a result of the hurricane, will receive a letter indicating the county has estimated they have substantial damage. Some have already been sent, and others are in the process of being sent. (The Keys’ municipalities are conducting their own substantial damage assessments).

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More than 2.3 Million Cubic Yards of Hurricane Debris and 19,250 Destroyed White Goods Have been Removed from the Florida Keys

January 17, 2018

Since Category 4 Hurricane Irma struck on Sept. 10, 2017, more than 2.3 million cubic yards of hurricane debris — both vegetative and construction/demolition — and more than 19,000 destroyed white goods (large appliances) have been removed along roads throughout the Florida Keys.

The deadline to put hurricane debris along county and private roads from MM 16 to 28 for guaranteed collection was Jan. 14, 2018. The final pass has begun in this area. It is moving quickly, but will take a few weeks to complete.

There is not a deadline yet to put hurricane debris along County and private roads from MM 28 to MM 40, but now is the time to get your eligible debris onto the rights of way. This is important to expedite the cleanup and ensure all eligible hurricane debris is picked up. Collection is continuing in this area.

The county’s contractor just completed final passes of county roads on Conch Key and Duck Key (with the exception of four large stumps that will be picked up with different equipment). That contractor now is completing the final pass in the City of Layton, which contracted with the county to manage its debris collection.
The Florida Department of Transportation is currently underway of its fourth and final pass along U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway.

more “More than 2.3 Million Cubic Yards of Hurricane Debris and 19,250 Destroyed White Goods Have been Removed from the Florida Keys”

Update: Supplemental Insurance Claim Workshop + Grant Program for Homeowners

January 14, 2018

There’s a free event taking place Tuesday, January 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Courtyard Marriott in Marathon (MM 48.5). It’s designed to help property owners still struggling to rebuild their homes and businesses. You may not be aware that as an insured, you are entitled to additional funds known as your Supplemental Claim. If you are not satisfied with your insurance settlement, this event is for you.

There are two aspects to the event: the first is a one-on-one supplemental insurance claim workshop. The second is a grant-based program that helps homeowners where insurance and FEMA leave off.

Ken Browne, P.A. is sponsoring the event. He has over 40 years experience as an adjuster for the people and has been helping Keys’ property owners since Hurricane Andrew. He will work one on one with you to help maximize your claim. Ken has a 100% success rate for reopened claims.

Rebecca White, case manager for UMCOR (Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church) will be attending. She will help qualify homeowners whose needs haven’t been met by other means for UMCOR grant assistance.

Testimonial from a local business owner:

“Good private adjusters are worth their weight in gold. We worked with Ken after Hurricane Wilma and, although it took considerable time due to the insurance companies processes, we finally recovered what we feel was a fair settlement based on the storm damages incurred.”


FEMA Funding Tops $172 Million for Monroe County Irma Survivors

January 11, 2018

Monroe County homeowners and renters impacted by Hurricane Irma have received more than $172.4 million in federal funding for housing, flood insurance claims and other recovery needs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Monroe County has helped facilitate some of FEMA’s programs. Here is the latest since Hurricane Irma struck the Keys Sept. 10:

•   FEMA has provided $59.8 million in grants to more than 16,400 Monroe County homeowners and renters. FEMA grants can include money for temporary rental assistance, home repairs and other needs not covered by insurance, such as replacing destroyed personal property.

•   The National Flood Insurance Program, which is part of FEMA, has paid $112.6 million in flood insurance claims to Monroe County policyholders, according to preliminary data.

•   To date, the U. S. Small Business Administration has approved nearly $147 million in low-interest disaster loans for residents, business owners and nonprofits in Monroe County. This includes 1,901 home loans totaling $101.9 million, 380 business loans totaling $39.1 million and 87 Economic Injury Disaster Loans totaling $5.6 million.

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Deadline to Put Hurricane Debris on County Rights of Way Is Sunday, Jan. 14; Final Pass Begins Jan. 15

January 8, 2018

The last day to put eligible hurricane debris on county and private roads in the mile marker 16 to 28 area (Lower Sugarloaf Key through Middle Torch Key) is Sunday, Jan. 14.

Final pass in this area will begin Monday, Jan. 15, and continue for several weeks until the debris has been collected. Leading up to the final pass start date, collection will continue in this area.

County public works crews will also perform a final pass on private roads in this area, moving any additional debris from the private road to the closest county right of way for collection by the county’s contractor. It is not necessary for residents on private roads to call to request a pickup.

In the very hardest hit areas of Little Torch Key, Big Pine Key and No Name Key (MMs 28 to 40), a final date to put debris on county and private roads has not been set.

Collections are continuing in these areas.

It remains illegal to put debris anywhere along U.S. 1 in the Keys – this includes between MMs 16 and 40.

Hotel Stays Extended Through Feb. 10 for Eligible Hurricane Irma Survivors

January 5, 2018

Eligible Hurricane Irma survivors receiving Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) may receive an extension to stay temporarily in hotels while they look for an alternative place to live.

FEMA’s TSA, which pays for short-term hotel stays, has extended eligibility from Jan. 7 to Feb. 10, 2018, with hotel checkout Feb. 11, 2018. Participants in TSA will receive a phone call telling them whether they are eligible for the extension and what they need to do to remain at their current hotel or find a new hotel. Applicants must meet certain requirements to remain eligible.

Hurricane Irma survivors who are not currently in TSA but who may be eligible are notified automatically. Participants must be registered with FEMA and be eligible for disaster assistance.

FEMA pays directly for the room and any applicable taxes. Applicants are responsible for all other incidental costs, such as meals, transportation, etc. Hotels may require a credit card for incidental expenses.

A household of four or fewer members is authorized one hotel room and a household of five or more is authorized additional rooms based on a limit of four people per room. One member of each household 18 or older must reside in each room.

TSA-eligible applicants must find and book their own hotel rooms. The list of participating hotels is on DisasterAssistance.gov, under the link Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program or by phoning the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. For TTY, call 800-462-7585. For 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.

Applicants with disabilities or who have access and functional needs should check with hotels to ensure appropriate accommodations are available. Those with pets must check to see if pets are accepted. Applicants must show photo identification and adhere to any hotel check-in requirements.

For more information on Hurricane Irma and Florida recovery, visit www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL,

@FEMARegion4 Twitter account, or the Florida Division of Emergency Management website.


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we worktogether to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.