CAPE CORAL, Fla. — As we enter the peak of hurricane season, some families in Cape Coral said they’ve been waiting for months to install their hurricane shutters, but the city is holding them back.
Hugo Mir, Owner of Alufab USA, which installs hurricane shutters throughout Southwest Florida, said many of their orders have been delayed three or four months due to the city struggling to process permits.
“Hurricane season is here and the peak of it is coming and people need protection. They are not going to get it because I, as a general contractor, can't install without a permit or I lose my license,” said Mir.
A customer of Alufab USA, Robert Kirk, says his order has been ready for months.
“The shutters are actually sitting in their warehouse and they can't install them,” said Kirk.
Mir said Robert Kirk has been waiting for three months because of the backlog of permits the city of Cape Coral said they’ve been dealing with for months.
“I have hundreds of thousands of dollars bought and paid for in the back waiting to be installed that can’t be installed because I don't have a permit,” said Mir.
Kirk said his biggest worry is that Southwest Florida is moving into the peak of its hurricane season and his home is still not protected.
“I mean, I have insurance, but who wants to go through the aggravation of having flying debris come through your windows?” said Kirk.
Part of the problem is due to staffing issues, according to Cape Coral Spokesperson Melissa Mickey.
“I think it is fair to say that they are understaffed,” said Mickey.
These delays continue even after the city briefly shut down its permitting department four months ago to play catch up.
“The construction industry didn't slow down and I think there was a little bit of a thought process behind it thinking that it might but it did not,” said Mickey.
On Thursday, several months later, Kirk said,
"there is no excuse why they can't put these things out,” he said.
Mir said he's hoping a resolution can be found.
“I don't know if Cape Coral can give priority to those types of permits. This is not a luxury item they are putting on their home,” said Mir.
This is a question Mickey said is possible.
“If it is determined that there are certain permits that maybe should take a precedence - that hasn't been determined at this point. But if there is, and like you said, we are in hurricane season and it's for hurricane shutters, it's definitely a possibility,” said Mickey.
Mickey said last week the city council decided to add about 26 more employees to its permit department hoping it would help with the backlog.