Bring questions to FEMA reps at Thursday night’s Cape Coral town hall

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Hurricane debris outside a Cape Coral home. Credit: WINK News

Southwest Florida residents with questions for FEMA representatives one month after Hurricane Ian can get them answered at a Thursday night town hall in Cape Coral.

Cape Coral neighbors have concerns and tell WINK News they will be at the town hall to ask about big issues like the 50% Rule. That rule means homes that suffered more than 50% damage from the hurricane and were built before 1981 may have to be rebuilt completely to bring them up to current building codes. It is unclear if this rule applies to privately owned single-family homes that only suffered water damage but no structural damage.

Other community members say many storm victims have either overlooked the 50% Rule or weren’t aware of it and have already started making renovations on their homes and have paid thousands of dollars for repairs. Cape Coral city officials say it’s in people’s best interests to hold off until Dec. 1 to make repairs. For people like Tammy Vetter, though, that seems impossible.

Vetter lives in the Cape Coral Yacht Club, and her home needs to be gutted. She wants to know what the qualifications are to get assistance and the 50% Rule is her biggest concern.

“So, I have to wait till December, and I can sit in my mold-infested house until I can get it fixed,” Vetter said. “I’m living in a house now that actually should be gutted. I don’t know that it’s real safe that we’re staying in here, but we are, so I’m in a limbo of a residence.”

Other things neighbors want answers on: flood insurance, Small Business Administration loans and individual assistance. With many homes in Cape Coral experiencing roof damage and flooding, many are now turning to FEMA for help. But Vetter waited in a line for four hours only to be told she didn’t qualify for FEMA assistance.

“There’s so many people in, say, the Yacht Club area that got flooded, that have been in their homes for, you know, some people 20, 30 years, so their assessed value is pretty low,” Vetter said. “And when you take that assessed value and cut that in half to 50%, these people are going to be forced to tear down their houses. And two-thirds of the Yacht Club’s going to be open lots because people aren’t going to be able to afford to rebuild their houses.”

Vetter and many other people also want to know when the FEMA trailers will arrive. She plans to attend Cape Coral’s FEMA town hall at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., where, hopefully, she can get her questions answered. The event will be aired live on CapeTV and streamed on the city’s YouTube and Facebook pages.

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