Posted: 2:41 pm Monday, September 25th, 2017
By Eric "Hollywood" Davis STAR 94.5
Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties have been added to a free federal program offering roofing assistance to homeowners suffering roof damage as a result of Hurricane Irma, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In the weeks following the hurricane, the four-county Orlando area was not among about 16 Florida counties targeted for the program. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy were among those urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expand Operation Blue Tarp into Central Florida.
For program details, visit http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/BlueRoof/ online.
Winter Springs resident Lola Votta, 74 said the program is especially critical for seniors who don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars sitting around to meet their insurance deductibles.
“I have rain coming in four bedrooms. I have a garage with the ceiling falling down,” said Votta, whose deductible is $4,200. “All of this was caused by the hurricane.”
An adjuster from her insurance company, Allstate, has not yet been to her home, she added.
On Friday, Nelson urged FEMA to expand the weeks-old program to the Orlando area.
“These counties are in need of immediate assistance in order to avoid further property damage,” Nelson said.
The program also allows residents to stay in their homes instead of paying for temporary housing or hotels.
Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties were among 16 Florida counties with the highest level of insurance claims, according to a preliminary report released Monday by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Each of those counties had more than 10,000 preliminary claims, according to the state agency.
The federal roofing service targeted homeowners with shingled roofs in Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, illsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Martin, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, St. Lucie, Volusia counties.
On Monday, the government had no centers in Central Florida where residents could go to begin the process for the program. The nearest to Metro Orlando was 5253 Airport Blvd. in Bartow.
“The first temporary roof installation is a significant milestone for people impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said U.S. Army Corps Col. Jason Kirk, district commander. “The blue covers are a tangible sign to the community that ensuring their safety, security, and peace of mind is our top priority.”