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Cape Coral passes ordinance designed to help homeowners rebuild after Hurricane Ian

Posted at 10:29 PM, Nov 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-30 22:29:10-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Cape Coral City Council hosting a special meeting tonight and the topic- FEMA’s 50% rule.

It’s been a hot button issue for many residents looking to rebuild their home after Hurricane Ian. And tonight, the council approved an ordinance that will remove the five-year cumulative impact rule making it easier for Cape residents to rebuild.

City leaders have been concerned the 50% rule would make it harder for Cape Coral to rebuild. With the passing of tonight’s ordinance, it has some breathing a sigh of relief.

"We were flooded and we had substantial wind damage.”

Like so many who lived through Hurricane Ian, John Melilli was planning to rebuild his home.

"It became apparent to us that the amount of damage that the insurance companies said my home experienced that we would be definitely affected,” he says.

Affected by FEMA's 50% rule. Which made it hard for much of Cape Coral to rebuild. That was until tonight.

“With this ordinance and the removal of the five year threshold, all we do now to calculate that 50% threshold- which is a FEMA rule- is just hurricane damage,” said Wyatt Daltry, Planning Team Coordinator with the City of Cape Coral.

Before tonight, the 50% rule would require any home that suffered more than 50% damage by market value to be rebuilt using modern, and more costly, building codes. A rule that would also require people to count the cost of upgrades like a recently added roof. But not anymore thanks to a new ordinance.

"This really affects those people who may be, say, 55% damage," said Daltry. "And what tipped them over that 50% was the fact they had to build a new roof because the insurance company required them to do that two years ago.”

To put that in perspective, the city says they have more than 23,000 reroofs in the last five years on record. Homes that will no longer count to that 50% value.

Something that could affect homeowner's decisions, like Melilli, to rebuild and stay.

"We've decided that we're going to stay," he says. "We like Cape Coral. We are going to convert our first floor into parking and into storage and we're planning to build a second floor.”

City Council says this ordinance may be something they revisit again down the road. But, at least for now, residents now having a clear direction on how to make those major repairs to their homes.