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Cape Coral homes built before 1981 should not make repairs right now, City says

City Council looking to change flooding regulations under federal 50% rule
Home repairs
Posted at 5:05 PM, Oct 21, 2022

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — It's a waiting game for homeowners in Cape Coral as City leaders say do not make any repairs if your house was built before 1981 until at least December 1. It goes back to a 50-percent rule under a federal flooding program.

Homes built before 1981, when the program was adopted in 1981 by the City of Cape Coral, did not have to follow the regulations. If your home is damaged now beyond 50-percent of the home's value, you need to bring it up to code.

"We’re just sitting in limbo at this point trying to figure out do we do anything," said Angie Morris, whose Cape Coral home was built in 1961. "Our damage is catastrophic."

Her home had severe flood damage, along with her neighbor, David Rogers.

"We had about 20 inches of water in the house," he said. "This is life right now, just getting the sheet rock out."

Gutting a house, but not repairing it, as advised by the City of Cape Coral on Friday morning.

"If you suffered more than 50% damage to your home, which a lot of these homes have, then you may have to build to a certain elevation standards and certain building codes," said Cape Coral Councilman Tom Hayden.

City Council wants to make local changes so homeowners may not have to meet the 50-percent rule requirements laid out by the federal program.

"If we can look at the cumulative damage and shorten that period from five years or either zero or maybe one year, then that makes it easier for the residents," Hayden explained. "If you’ve had work done or roof, windows, things like that — that can play into the 50% rule and if we eliminate all that, that doesn’t become a factor rule in the 50%."

Ultimately, homeowners could save money. If repairs are made now before a potential move from City Council, Hayden said they could be spending more money.

"They’re in danger of all that work not mattering because of this 50% rule because they may have to do more extensive work depending on where they stand," he said.

It's money many homeowners are looking to find right now.

"We don’t know if we’ll have enough money to replace it. That’s the tough one," Morris said.

Rogers is hoping the City of Cape Coral will come to them in-person with more guidance because many people in the neighborhood don't have mailboxes or Internet to receive any communication from City leaders.

"The longer we wait, the more unsettling it is because we don’t know what to do," Rogers said. "We want to do something, but we don’t want to put any money in the house."

Morris says she's also going to wait and see what City Council does.

"I also am hoping that the government will help us through this process and give us as much as they can to help us rebuild," she said.

City Council set the Dec. 1, 2022 date because they believe it will take this long to put together an ordinance. Hayden says it needs to be approved by Planning and Zoning first before it heads to City Council for public hearings, readings, and an ultimate vote.