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DESOTO COUNTY | Family dealing with hurricane damage, still can't go home

DESOTO COUNTY| Family still displaced from Ian one year later
Posted at 7:41 PM, Nov 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-07 07:09:48-05

ARCADIA, Fla. — Many Southwest Florida residents are still fighting the effects of Ian one year later, but for the Kirk family in Arcadia, the nightmare Ian brought has only become worse.

Dennis Kirk is a wheelchair user after having a stroke in 2022.

He can't help with a lot of the heavy lifting it takes to repair a hurricane-damaged house, so he says he's at the mercy of trusting a contractor.

However, as many Southwest Florida residents have found, finding one is not always easy.

"We came in and we started seeing a lot of different problems with the house," said Kirk. "Just very poor workmanship and we kept asking why this is being allowed to happen.”

Kirk says he and his wife Nancy began their search for a contractor in March of this year and when they finally found one they say they were told their house would be finished by mid-June.

Now, five months later, they are still stuck in a one-bedroom apartment that does not meet Dennis's needs.

Dennis tells Fox 4 they are having to go back and fix a list of more than 50 issues that he says were not fixed by the construction workers in the first place.

He says the issues are cosmetic as well as major structural mistakes.

"After a few months, they started trying to cover up the mistakes they had," said Kirk. "Like right behind me on the wall, they covered up outlets and switches with drywall."

According to the Construction Owners Association of America (COAA)
the industry is facing a shortage of skilled workers.

The Kirk's home inspector says this is an issue he has experienced long before Ian hit.

“Five years ago, we didn't have it, didn't need an independent inspection on new homes," said Jeff Burton, Independent Home Inspector.

"Most builders were credited and they do things right but we're seeing in an industry, even your new builds need to be third-party-inspected because we're again coming back to some people not supervised not trained properly."

Now the Kirk's say they have invested more than $120,000 in getting their home back. Plus, they say they are seeing even more expenses pile up from the unexpectedly long remodel.

Dennis Kirk says because of how much it has put them out he has had to give up receiving more intense physical therapy.

"I'm going through therapy and trying to walk again, and it set me back mentally and physically," said Kirk. "You know my wife, it's very difficult for her, and it makes me very upset to see her have to go through this.”

Now the Kirk's say they have to wait to see if these issues are resolved before their permit ends on December 26.