ESTERO, Fla. -- A couple in Estero is staying in a shelter, Wednesday, hoping repairs at their home happen sooner rather than later.
Cecilia Rivero and David Waszak's home sustained severe roof damage because of Hurricane Irma. Now mold is growing in their home, and aggravating their lungs. "All of this can be a major problem for me and for him because we both have COPD," said Cecilia through a translator. "The more it rains, the more mold will spread and more damage there will be in our home."
They have turned to Operation Blue Roof, a federal organization that installs blue tarps on damaged roofs as a temporary fix. However, there have been delays. "We absolutely understand that people are frustrated and they would like the blue plastic on their roof yesterday. We understand with every rain event, there's more damage. So we want to let them know crews are working from sunrise to sunset to help as many people as possible," said Kerry Solan with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Solan tells 4 In Your Corner with 7,000 requests, they do not have any prioritization system in place for people with health concerns, but it's helpful to disclose that info when signing up for the free service.
Meanwhile, Operation Blue Roof is staffing and training more people to work on the projects faster. "Once we're fully staffed, which we expect to be fully staffed by September 29th, we're estimating it will be 21 days or less until someone gets the blue sheeting on their roof," Solan said.
The program is available at no cost to eligible primary homeowners in Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties. You can find a list of sign up locations here.
If you are in need of FEMA assistance, you can visit their website.