Thoughts and Lessons from Hurricane Ian - Divco Custom Homes
Thoughts and Lessons from Hurricane Ian
  1. Easy to see this as a top 5 worst hurricane in the history of FL.  The storm hit at close to high tide and the eye passed just to the left of us which accentuated the damage.  While previous projections had overestimated the damages and loss of life associated with several of the last storms, they had this one right.  The worst part, for us in Southwest Florida, was that the storm took a right hook late in its travels which both limited the reaction time and changed the expected landfall from Tampa to Ft Myers
  2. FEMA has it nearly right.  While we didn’t have any homes to look back on in Ft. Myers Beach on only 1 on Sanibel.  From what we can tell, the massive flood damage occurred primarily to houses built below current flood levels, or to areas under the main living area.  Some of this damage, including damage to breakaway walls and flooding of 1st level foyers occurred to homes recently built.  However, the homes with break away 1st floor walls were designed to have them easily drop to avoid the waves pounding on the main structure, and 1st level foyers can expect flooding in severe storms as they are below flood levels.
  3. Like many others in the area, Divco had at least 5 or 6 employees with major damage to their homes; these included full flooding, to wind blown damage to roofs and screen enclosures. 
  4. Lasting effects.  Storms that cause this amount of damage leave lasting changes both to the people and property that went through the storm, and also in the codes and insurance practices that come in the following years.  While it is too early to know what will change, I expect major changes to insurance with growing differences in pricing and availability between homes at current codes and the older homes. 
  5. There are limits to FEMA subsidized flood insurance that many people do not consider.  FEMA backed policies have reduced costs, but are limited to $250,00 in total claims.  There will be many homeowners and banks that find this insurance will be woefully low when the value of the damages are accounted for.  I suspect most banks will require private flood insurance with full values ilo the $250,000 limit available under the NFIP.