Hurricane Irma destroyed 675 residential and commercial structures in unincorporated Monroe County and damaged thousands of others, county government staff have reported in a preliminary assessment.
“Some are saying it’s worse than that,” county Mayor George Neugent told the Miami Herald.
Most of the damaged structures — the count there is 465 — were on Big Pine Key, the assessment says.
Eighty-one were on Cudjoe Key. As well, houses were destroyed on Big Coppitt Key, Geiger Key, Little Torch Key, Lower Sugarloaf Key, Ramrod Key, Stock Island, Rockland Key, Sugarloaf Key, Summerland Key and Scout Key.
County staff employees went door to door, reviewing exteriors. They did not enter the buildings.
The report says 583 structures had “major” damage and 2,739 sustained “minor” damage. Overall, 10,009 houses were affected by Sept. 10 storm, compared to 3,884 not affected in the unincorporated areas.
Meanwhile, the Herald reports that Key West has reopened its doors to tourists.
County building inspectors are still evaluating damage to structures and placing placards on those that have “major damage” (those get an orange placard attached to the front that say “unsafe structure stay out”) and “destroyed” (they get a red placard that says “dangerous keep out”).
County information officer Cammy Clark says if residents find one of these placards on their property, call (305) 453-8816. County employees can help obtain the inspection reports and pictures. That’s important information for insurance companies or the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the process of recovery.
If a home has an orange placard, people need to retain a licensed contractor to make improvements to help remedy unsafe conditions or must be qualified as an owner builder and bring a home back to a habitable state.
If a home has a red placard, building inspectors that inspected the home have indicated that it is beyond repair and demolition is necessary.
The Herald reports that county inspection teams are also inspecting structures in cooperation with the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative and Keys Energy Services, the Florida Keys’ two power companies.