Two big containers Tom Houghton moved into Times Square hoping to expand his La Ola Food Truck operation have been in FEMA’s crosshairs for the last several weeks. Houghton, with help from the Allan Development Group, is hopeful he’s found a solution to why FEMA’s been breathing down his neck.
FEMA was not happy Houghton moved the two large containers into what’s deemed to be a high velocity zone on Fort Myers Beach, especially after the destruction Hurricane Ian caused in that area. The storm surge from the Cat 4 Hurricane on September 28th demolished buildings in and around Times Square and Lynn Hall Park and dismantled the pier just a few hundred feel away from where the La Ola containers now sit.
Houghton was hoping to expand his food truck operation by adding the two large containers, which includes additional seating, three bathrooms and a full bar. The Town of Fort Myers Beach, while trying to help Houghton, also has to stay on the right side of FEMA, which as everyone knows holds the keys to the national flood insurance program. The town has been meeting with FEMA to try to help Houghton come up with a solution everyone can live with.
Scott Allan from Allan Development believes he has that solution that will make both FEMA happy and allow the town to permit the containers. The day will begin by raising the 2 containers by crane and setting them on massive trailers so the structures can be moved quickly if there’s an evacuation. While it’s not clear if making the trailers mobile would solve the issue completely, being able to get the containers off the island during a storm appeared to be one of the major gripes with FEMA. It’s also unclear if Houghton would be able to sell alcohol in the containers if they are on wheels. Apparently the Alcohol Beverage Control Board frowns on businesses selling alcohol on mobile structures.
Allan’s staff will be building stairs, railings, handicap ramps and other features required by code. The trailer floor height and deck will be 36″ off the ground. It’s considered a temporary structure by code, one that has an evacuation plan in the event of a named storm. Allan says the entire setup could be moved off the island in 10 minutes. Allan tells Beach Talk Radio News that if they can pull it off, the head building official will visit the location at 5:15PM and either pass or fail the project. “We’re hoping for a big pass where there will be a celebration to follow. It’s a big task in a short amount of time.”