Rick is Off The Roof

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After 6 days of protesting in some of the hottest weather of the year, Rick Loughery is off his garage, vowing to continue to fight for Fort Myers Beach residents from the ground. The Loughery’s have informed us that someone from the Governor’s office will be at their house today at 9AM.

Nothing has changed in terms of his garage. The town’s ruling that the garage was attached to the house stands, therefore the garage must be calculated in the 50% FEMA rules and is subject to the latest storm codes. The garage was built in 2019 and it was built to the proper codes on the books at the time. Since the storm, the zone the Loughery’s live in has changed and the codes are more stringent.

The town has provided the Loughery’s with three options. We shared those options in a story over the we wrote about HERE. There would be no way the town could change it’s ruling now. Not only is the state watching this (and several other high profile homes) closely, but the town does not want to run afoul with FEMA’s flood insurance discount program if something were to happen down the line. And, both Rick and Amy understand that and do not want to put the community at risk.

Rick and his wife Amy are still waiting for one final decision from FEMA, the only agency that could actually overrule the town and allow the Loughery’s to keep their garage. 3 FEMA reps came out to the house last Friday and promised to get back to Rick and Amy with a decision but as of Monday night they had not heard from anyone.

Rick believes his protest highlighted changes that need to be made at Town Hall to help residents get back in their homes faster. Here’s the full statement Rick gave Monday night after coming down from the roof, in front of 50 local residents who came by to show their support.

“Amy and I moved here 22 years ago. We started a business, raised our son, involved ourselves in our community, then retired to finally enjoy the fruits of our labor.
“On Sept 28th our island wasn’t just hit by hurricane Ian, it was decimated and virtually unrecognizable. Some still today, 10 months later, find it hard to visit. We are still mourning the losses of our fellow islanders that Ian took from us.

“The reason for me living on a roof for 6 days was simple. I thought I had an issue with no answer and I deserved one. In reality it wasn’t that simple. My issue was a garage that Ian could not destroy. My team of architects, engineers, planners, and permitters all agreed there was no reason or code that they knew of to require it to be destroyed. But here we are after me spending 6 days on a roof. Like so many islanders, since Ian, Amy and I must figure out how to move forward with our lives. While we love our trailer, building a home takes time. Another year in the trailer is a tough sell.

“As I sat day to day on the roof, the outpouring of love from both islanders and complete strangers was absolutely empowering. You all have given me the strength to stay up there a lifetime. There was a never-ending supply of goodies, drinks, and gifts – like Wilson – to keep me company and helped keep me going.

“I knew when I went up there that I wasn’t the only one on this island struggling. But little did I know how many joined me in similar struggles. As the hours and days went by, the volume of fellow islanders that stopped to tell their stories one by one was nonstop. Our island and our people are still hurting. We all seem to have a battle with one thing or another.

“So how should we move forward? We need change…..

“Our building department needs to be retooled. We need to build a better bridge between our residents and them. No one should feel like they are going to the principles office when they enter Town hall. Builders and business owners should not feel alienated by staff. We should be greeted with love and support and a “can do” attitude. Staff should be helping us through the process every step of the way, not waiting for information to be received, but asking us for it. They should be guiding us through the process instead of residents guessing at what to do. Islanders and former business owners should have a fast-track system to help expedite their return to the island as fast as possible.

“Administrative variances are necessary to help residents get past a 3-6 month wait for items that were pre-existing.

“Builders, architects, and engineers should have a say in how changes are made via a committee or group. No ordinance should be written without first seeking the people most affected to include their concerns. We need a local government that is “for the people”.
“To our State and Federal governments – remember we are still here, and we need you to participate in our rebuild. We need your “can do” attitude.

“Most important is a message to my fellow islanders……Whatever your struggle is, I understand completely! It’s not fair and it hurts every single day. First the storm, then survival after, then insurance woes and then politics. We are all in a battle to find some sort of normalcy.

“We as a town must work together more often to settle our differences and learn to compromise. If we can try to meet in the middle our struggles become easier and everyone can be happy. When we work together we understand diversity and welcome different ideas. Without compromise one side feels like then won while the other side lost. In reality both sides lost. Remember this is OUR island and ALL islanders should matter, not just one group.

“Each of you are FMB! Without you our island won’t be the same! Remember, no matter how hard the struggle is, I am with you 100%. Do not give in, but dig in. This is our home, our community. We are FMBstrong!”

29 COMMENTS

  1. John T, Great job of in describing our resident hostage situation here on the beach. Hostage to all levels of government as we expect, but our very own recently elected City Council? No mention of the library since all the negative comments but great idea on converting this to City Hall and shifting the $650K salaries to positions that can help us with rebuilding ( I assume that librarians cannot help with this task?) City Council remains focused on the “fluff infrastructure” recreation center, city hall, library but these projects do not assist the remaining residents (how many of these 500 people do we expect in the library?). Most of us are maintaining low visibility..out of the crosshairs of the building permits and citation minions as I would like to keep my “rocks” in place as there are few rocks at city hall.

    • Thanks George, Enjoyed your comments as well. Not sure anyone else is listening. But we keep trying. Have a good day. John T

  2. Outstanding Commentary!!!! In a few short paragraphs Rick has summarized the frustration of FMB residents, if not the rest of the nation, in dealing with the pain and heartache of trying to put their lives back together while attempting in vain to seek help from those who they elected to serve.
    Suffering lack of funding, these poor souls are trying to use whatever means at their disposal to just survive. They are not astute real estate investors. They are not knowledgeable contractors, lawyers nor accountants. What they do share is hopelessness and desperation. That might mean finding temporary shelter in an RV, utilizing what might be left of their properties such a garage, etc.
    And yet too often, they are met at every turn by non-empathetic town, county and state public officials who grandis behind a laundry list of regulations and fees, fee, and more fees.
    Let’s charge the poor family who lost their home a “Demolition Fee”. Let’s tell the RV owner he or she can’t temporarily park on their property without a “Parking Fee”. Let’s make Rick take down the garage that “we declared beyond repair”. That is of course unless he can afford to connect it to a larger new home.
    Let’s build a large new town hall which can house folks in future emergencies. The building needs to be multi story, have elevators, access to a cafeteria, restrooms etc. Sounds just like our enormous library, which we are going to spend a fortune repairing and for what purpose, considering our few remaining residents. Does any of this make sense? Why not repurpose the library given the expenses at hand.
    Rick understates the problem! Many are “beyond fearful” of going to the Principals Office. Rather they are terrified as they stand in the street with only the shirts on their backs!
    The good folks of Fort Myers Beach need help and understanding. We need the likes of Rick on our town board and soon.
    Nuff said,
    John T

  3. Great job Rick and Amy. Good luck. You have demonstrated that a “common sense “ approach is needed in our local, state and national government and agencies. Your statement was spot on. We probably should form a residents ( not businesses) of FMB group to handle these situations and as a liaison to the town and LPA.

  4. Beautifully stated. Makes my heart heart – for Rick & Amy and all their fellow neighbors struggling hard daily to get their ‘normal’ island life back. We can’t begin to imagine what they have been through since Ian hit. Kudos to the roof master! 🙂

  5. Thank you, Rick, for shining a spotlight not only on your plight, but also on the frustrations of nearly every single islander. Your statement is beautifully written and much appreciated!

  6. Thanks to Rick for speaking out for his rights and the rights of many of our island neighbors. I respect his courage and proactive stance. If all of us sit idly by, complaining but taking no action, we cannot expect anything to improve. Maybe Rick will run to serve us on town council. He already has many of our votes if he does run.

  7. Thanks to Amy and Rick for bringing to the forefront the issues that are so near and dear to us “homeless” people!!! Amazing that Amy can go before the City Council and address these folks with courtesy. Hopefully, this type of role modeling that can infuse the FMB city government staff. Considering their regulatory approach (the “must do or else”), I was amazed that the City had paid for a study on employee compensation that focused on the increased IAN workload. Let me guess these are the same folks that had 1+ years of a CoVid hiatus with full pay! It is time that the Council quits paying lip service to a more courteous approach (do we really need a lawyer to soften the language of City notices and citations?). During this time of rebuilding a city-citizen partnership vs an antagonistic manner should be INSTINCTIVE, never mind lawyers or the newly hired and highly paid “communication czar” softening the approach. Bottom line we have changed the top management but the “I am going to get you” is ingrained in the staff. These are power issues that the staff feeds on and most likely are unwilling to change.

  8. Proud of Rick and Amy! We too have had struggles with City Hall/Permits Office before Hurricane Ian and we can name the people there that made us jump through hoops! Why is it so hard on this island to get a simple permit to beautify, improve and/or upgrade your home/dock?

  9. Rick nailed it. Town Hall needs to stop being the enemy and the school principal and work with residents to rebuild our island. There’s the code and there’s common sense. The code is based on how a bureaucrat reads it. Tear down a 4-year-old garage? How stupid is that?

  10. GO RICK AND AMY! not only is the whole Ian situation horrible–but I cannot believe rules cannot be altered with an easy. grandfathered clause. Why do the actual government agencies set to HELP citizens… NOT HELP! IT is so frustrating–here’s to the rebuild of FMB.

  11. Glad Rick is safely off the roof..hoping you and your family will get some justice ..thank you for standing up for our community.. we need to stand strong together..but after all said and done,has anything changed? The town “rulers ” are still bullies …of course we should be treated differently as we try rebuild and heal from all the trauma and deviating effects of Ian..I must say I only ran into 1 person that had understanding and compassion in the my entire rebuild process ..only 1…as we try to move forward on FMB we do need to have something change with the way the town approaches this..I want to hear the real truth about this FEMA flood insurance deal..seems that is the thing FMB “rulers” say it holding us hostage..any answers?
    Bravo Rick..its not over..

  12. I only know Rick and Amy through BTR, but am amazed at their strength, intelligence and humanity. I deeply hope the Governor’s office can persuade FEMA to do the right thing and save this garage, a symbol to me, of the islands strength and a “take this Ian!” attitude!
    Rick and Amy, I know your plates are overflowing for several months to come, but either of you or both should consider a future run for town government! I’ll look for you in February!

    • Yes, more people like Rick should be in a position to protect islanders/FMB. It’s like the backbone of the island, it’s people, are being punished for Ian happening.

  13. Off-topic, but I want to mention that the FEMA discount that this town so dearly holds as essential; is a joke 67% of the residents didn’t have flood insurance, and that FEMA discount is entry-level flood insurance that provided pay absolutely nothing, maybe $2000, to a Homeowner Perhaps you can get the next level up and pay for mediation; it’s a joke.

    Maybe the FEMA flood insurance discount does offer the town assistance in a flood. That’s a different story, but for a resident, it provides no protection.

  14. Rick’s 6pm press conference (where he climbed down from the garage roof) kept being interrupted by a woman screeching like a hyena. What in the world was that, did she think the press conference was for her? I didn’t hear any of the news reporters screeching like that.

    • That woman is nothing more than a local nut-job who seems to have placed herself at the forefront of the “FMB Movement.” I’m not even going to print her name here, in order to avoid drawing any more attention to her. Which is just what this self-proclaimed “leader” (and raging narcissist) wants. Think of her as the female answer to so-called “clean water activist” John Heim. Two nuts in the same shell.

      • It’s baffling why any organization, company or Facebook page or site would align themselves with the self serving, obnoxious blood sucker. She needs to go away.

  15. Good luck. Thanks for speaking for the common people. Hope the governors office can get you some help. If not .. take it to the national news.

  16. Ricks comments highlighted the sentiments and frustrations that residents and businesses are experiencing, there needs to be more changes and a progressive attitude towards the rebuilding of our community! Thanks Rick and hope someone will step up with a solution for you !

  17. What a wonderful story and what an amazing family. We too feel the same way about our FMB community. It’s a struggle watching it change and will be for a long time to come. But Rick is right, together we are stronger and can accomplish so much more. “ We the people….” Thank you so much for loving our island like we do.

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