From Beachside Paradise to Hardhat Zone
The effects of Hurricane Irma are still being felt by the Summerhouse Beach and Racquet Club. Blue industrial tarps flap in the wind, straining to cover what is left of the drywall and concrete of several mangled buildings.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida Sept. 10, creating an estimated $8.2 million worth of damage and expenses.
Of the 21 buildings that make up the Summerhouse Beach and Racquet Club, up to seven buildings sustained what property manager Marie Moore calls “severe damage”.
“Well these buildings, the ones that were severely compromised, are condemned from a construction point of view,” Moore said. “That doesn’t mean that they’re permanently condemned, but they’re not safe. It’s a hard-hat zone here.”
Moore was notified by her night-time manager, Jon Davis, of the damage early Sunday morning. Davis lives on property with his family and was in the complex at the time that the tornado hit. It wasn’t until the next morning that he realized the true extent of the damage.
“The thing that really sticks out in my mind when I said, ‘Oh shit, this was not a good move,’ was when the overhangs on our building started to break off.” Davis said. “And you could hear the tearing and at the time we couldn’t tell what it was. I thought it was the whole roof coming off.”
Following the storm, Davis went to inspect the property. He was met with a scene of destruction.
“It’s almost a surreal feeling like you’re in a movie or something like that because you only see this stuff on TV,” Davis said. “You don’t see this kind of devastation.”
Davis photographed the damage to send to Moore, prompting her to contact the complex’s insurance agent.
“Our insurance agent is very responsive and he had given me his cell phone so the first thing I did was text him to let him know that we need to file a claim and to get things mobilized,” Moore said.
In Florida, hurricane deductibles are defined as being “losses resulting from a named hurricane, and applies only once during hurricane season” according to the Insurance Information Institute. Additionally, the institute explains that in the state, homeowners could have a fixed amount deductible, or a deductible of 2 percent, 5 percent, or 10 percent of the value of the dwelling. Moore and her staff have begun making efforts to repair the damages, but face a long road to recovery.
“In this kind of situation, we’ve got a huge deductible. In our instance, we’ve got a 2 percent deductible on our property for hurricane damages. For wind damages,” Marie said. “And that can amount to anywhere from a deductible of about $18,000 to about $30,000 a building. And then the insurance kicks in after that.”
In the weeks following the storm, the damage has not stopped. A nor’easter reached the state beginning Sept. 30, causing water intrusion in several of the exposed buildings. Davis’ unit, though unaffected directly by Irma, is one of these newly damaged buildings.
“We were in the clear. But because of this nor'easter or whatever the hell we’re having, or have been having, the tarps, they’re not built for 30, 40 mile an hour winds and now they’re in the wind and rain.” Davis said. “And now we’ve got big problems.”
The unit located above Davis’ residence had exposed walls following Irma, providing an opening for water intrusion during nor’easter. As a result, Davis’ unit also flooded. It is currently uninhabitable. With persisting poor weather, the process of recovering the property has been delayed. Safety concerns over working in poor weather conditions continue to stall construction efforts to secure exposed buildings. This creates further damage, as seen in Davis’ case.
“The problem is the recovery and assessment is taking longer because we’re just running into more problems and more problems due to the weather.” Davis said. “So, as far as a timeline, God, I’d have no idea just because the weather’s just not cooperating. It’s just continuing recovery.”
Of the 256 units comprising the complex, Davis is one of just three full-time residents that have been displaced from their primary residence as a result of Irma. Luckily, the majority of Summerhouse owners use their property as a second home or rental property. Looking toward the future, Moore looks for patience from residents and visitors alike.
“As far as the rebuild goes, we just ask that people be patient with us,” Moore said. “It’s a long, long process and we will come back though and we will be in a position soon where we can still rent out some of our units here.”
Even after weathering the storm, Davis won’t be leaving the Summerhouse Beach and Racquet Club anytime soon. He is unsure if he will stay on property or not if another storm is to hit.
“If this happens again, I can’t tell you I’m going to run back home to Maine, or I’m going to do this, or I’m going to do that.” Davis said. “I will have to take the information and make the best decision I can for my family, for Marie’s interest, for everything involved and then think about the important stuff.”
Currently, the important stuff includes securing exposed properties, assessing additional damages, and working toward returning the Summerhouse Beach and Racquet Club back to its days of fun in the sun for visitors.
“Normally you would hope that you’d have the storm and then the weather clears and then you can go into recovery and then the assessment and then the rebuild,” Davis said. “But with this weather situation, just trying to hold this place together is the priority.”