“FEMA, SBA, FPL, Insurance Have Failed Us”

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That was the message over 150 Condo Association Presidents and residents told the Fort Myers Beach Town Council Thursday. The Council held the special condo meeting to find out what the town could do to get their buildings open sooner and people back living on the island faster.

According to the Fort Myers Beach Fire Department there are 162 condo buildings on Fort Myers Beach.

There are many reasons condo owners are still waiting to return home including parts being in short supply, a shortage of trustworthy and competent contractors and traffic on the island which delays workers getting to where they need to be to work on the buildings.

However, the biggest complaints condo Presidents and residents had were saved for the government, FPL and insurance companies. In the early days after Hurricane Ian, FEMA, SBA and FPL had so many boots on the ground they lead everyone to believe help would be on the way quickly.

The delays in getting an SBA loan (and the many strings attached) have forced many people to just give up on that financial option. FPL has become impossible to reach for help and many insurance companies have done nothing to help, with some doing more to fight claims as hard as possible, forcing homeowners to hire public adjusters and lawyers.

The financial hit condo owners will suffer will go on for years. Some have been assessed several times already and there may be more assessments coming their way. One condo President said he’s been dealing with SBA since November of 2022 and he’s still waiting for his money. Island Winds President Dave Nusbaum told the Town Council that FEMA keeps changing the goal posts on what needs to be done to meet their approval to get his building back open. George Kessler from Ocean Harbor said he’s been waiting for FPL to replace a transformer for nearly 3 months. Pelican Watch President Gary Fields applied for an SBA loan a year ago, and, is also suing his insurance company.

Fort Myers Beach Fire Chief Scott Wirth and new Building Inspector Joe Specht were also at the meeting to answer specific questions related to permits.

When it comes to the federal government, FPL and insurance companies, there’s not a lot the town council can do. There is, however, strength in numbers and residents can file complaints with their elected officials and with regulatory agencies.

– For insurance complaints contact Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis at 850-413-5923 or YourFLVoice@MyFloridaCFO.com.
– For FPL complaints, contact the Florida Public Service Commission at 850-413-6100 or contact@psc.state.fl.us. The Florida Public Service Commission regulates FPL.
– It’s also an election year so contacting your Congressman and Senators will not hurt.
Congressman Byron Donalds
Senator Marco Rubio
Senator Rick Scott

One issue the Town Council is working on that can help is a requirement that condo buildings have a state-mandated reserve fund to deal with repairs. This was a law (SB4D) passed in May of 2022 by the State Legislature following the collapse of the Surfside Building. Right now, many condo associations on Fort Myers Beach have emptied out their reserve accounts to pay for repairs as they wait for insurance funds, which in many cases, will not be coming. A 2-year moratorium on that reserve fund requirement would help beach condos financially and perhaps prevent yet another assessment on owners.

Mayor Allers said he was working with the Florida delegation to get that moratorium and would be meeting with the members of the delegation later this month in Tallahassee.

Here’s feedback we received from a few folks who attended the meeting Thursday…

Tom McDonnell from the Estero Yacht and Racquet Club. “I thought it was a good meeting. It would have been nice to have had this meeting several months ago. It would also be nice to continue having such meeting to help resolve possible issues. The format was good because it gave everyone that had a comment the chance to make it and then the panel could answer them all at once.”

Island Winds President Dave Nusbaum. “The size of the crowd today was an indication of the many problems every condominium is facing as we work toward the goal of putting people back in their homes. The positive answers of Chief Wirth and Fire Marshall Campbell, the Mayor and Vice Mayor, Frankie and Joe Specht gave everyone some hope and guidance that we can accomplish that goal.”

Windward Point President Kevin Van Vuuren. “It was nice to hear what others are dealing with and it sounds like they really are trying to make it as smooth as possible to get things fixed.”

Seaside Board Member Todd Kluener. “I was extremely appreciative that the town spearheaded this roundtable. You can tell they care about the community, want to help and are leading with action. We also saw many associations that have their act together and need a little push to the finish line. Then there are others that are way behind that may need our community help to get Fort Myers Beach back to its better future self.”

Denise Klint from Sandarac said she thought the meeting with the Town Council was a great start. “Obviously, there are more issues going on than the town council was aware of. I think everyone finally felt heard.”

Klint has been put in charge of organizing a monthly lunch with Mayor Dan Allers and condo association Presidents, to keep this line of communication open. If you’re a Condo President and would like to participate, contact Denise by e-mail at Dklint848@comcast.net

 

27 COMMENTS

  1. Attn FMB displaced residents !
    All FEMA rental assistance will end on Mar 29 2024 unless our Governor extends the date!! There are many if us that have not been able to return to our home or condo now for 16 months !!!
    Our elected officials must speak up to our Governor
    for the residents they represent who will still be needing FEMA assistance past Mar 29th !!

  2. Attn FMB displaced residents !
    All FEMA rental assistance will end on Mar 29 2024 unless our Governor extends the date!! There are many if us that have not been able to return to our home or condo now for 16 months !!!
    Our elected officials must speak up to our Governor
    for the residents they represent who will still be needing FEMA assistance past Mar 29th !!

  3. I agree with the comment above. The complete lack of any effort to help by our current governor needs to be publicized on his campaign stops. Glad I don’t have to chose between Trump and DisAntis. Good job by our TC to do these and as always great thanks to Ed and Kim

  4. I spoke at the meeting on behalf of our condominium association, Caper Beach Club, and made a plea that if any of the other associations hired Apex/DKI to do their mitigation work, to contact me. We retained that company to do our mitigation work and they advised our public adjuster, and a number of our owners that they would only charge us what the insurance company would agree to pay for the mitigation. When the insurance company agreed to only pay half of what they are charging, they filed liens on our property. We allege that they did unnecessary work, causing damage to some of our units and over billed us for the work they did. Under our contract, we need to go to arbitration with them, which is yet to be scheduled. I would ask him that if any of the other associations used this company, and have issues with them, to reach out to me so that we can provide an information to our attorney.

    Thanks.

    Steve Bruns
    Shbruns@msn.com

  5. I would encourage all of these people to file a complaint with Bryron Donalds office. I had an issue with something related to the Army and my daughter’s contract with them and she was getting no answers. His office gotten taken care of in record time after months of us being ignored.

  6. Hey Ed,
    I posted a comment on here and saw that it posted and is now removed. I’m not sure what was wrong with it but I sure hope you’re not censoring select people since I wasn’t swearing or attacking people. What rules did I violate, so I know not to do it again? This is at least the 2nd time I’ve noticed this happening.

  7. As I’ve said many times before; group together and file a class action suit against the insurance commissioner. He is ultimately responsible for the fiasco.

  8. P.S. Let’s remember DeSantis and the Florida Legislature handed over $2 billion in public funds to insurance companies as reserves for reimbursing Florida homeowners after disasters such as Ian.
    Why hasn’t that money flowed to the destroyed homes and businesses on Fort Myers Beach?

  9. It appears there is a coordinated effort by the government, insurance companies and big money to bankrupt the island so they can scoop up the properties for themselves.

    • Look at Maui. (Lahaina) They are literally saying they are going to build a 15 min city and work-force housing. Now they are dumping all their toxic debris that FEMA picked up, right by the aquifer and Olowalu beach. Their Gov, mayor and chief of police and town council are all on board.

  10. Noticeably missing from that get together were the island’s two state legislators, Botana and Martin, two of the three people who should be leading the effort to see the insurance companies they regulate in our state start doing the right thing.
    The third guy, of course, is Ron DeSantis. Anybody tracked him down in those Iowa cornfields?
    These are the people the town’s council should be – should have been – all over on the insurance scandal so badly damaging the island and its residents and commerce.

  11. Where is the Governor? Get him off the campaign trail and get him to help. Take out ads showing he’s a no show and this is your guy that wants to be president.

  12. A similar situation is happening in Siesta Bay and Indian Creek, both owned by Sun Communities. Water, sewer and electricity services are still not functioning. Although these are not condos it’s the same story.

  13. FEMA and SBA are broken, as is the Florida insurance industry.

    Visit any disaster area over the last 20+ years – whether hurricanes, tornadoes, or river-flooding – and you’ll hear the same ineffably sad experiences.

    It would take a literal act of Congress to effect any changes to how FEMA/SBA operate post-disaster, and I’m not hopeful that will ever happen.

  14. Boardwalk Caper has been rolling right along with repairs. Plenty of issues along the way. Our board members have done awesome in overcoming issues. We’ve had issues with FPL but persistence worked. I’d reach out to our president for any insight on how they’ve handled it all.

  15. Yes I agree with Alex. You are a very important part of our rebuild, Ed. Thank you so much for being here for all of us. And thank you for providing us with contact names and numbers also. You are the best!!

    • where is the governor???

      this is a extremely major problem for the entire community and area.
      this sets our island back so many years and possibly ruin this town forever.

  16. I can tell you that my condo community in downtown fort Myers is experiencing the same issues as those condos communities on FMB. Our insurance has failed us also.

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