CAPE CORAL, Fla. — As Cape Coral seasonal residents are starting to think about heading home over the next two months, the city is arguing potential new storm shutter rules. These rules would dictate when residents can put up storm shutters and take them down.
The argument for updating storm shutter rules started after some in the firefighting community raised concerns about safety. Their argument is it takes longer to enter the home and removes exit routes for when they are fighting the fire inside the home.
An updated draft ordinance would allow shutters to be up during hurricane season or outside the season if the Cape is in the cone of uncertainty from the National Hurricane Center. If outside of the season, they must be taken down within 30 days of the storm.
Numerous snowbirds attended the council meeting voicing concerns about the affordability of taking shutters on and off, having to fly down when their home is in the cone to put shutters up; putting them in the path of a storm. There was also an argument for registration so emergency services know if a shuttered home is occupied or not.
“When we go north for the summer, there is no one living or staying in our home,” said Gilbert Peltola, Cape Coral Resident and snowbird. “It is empty. While I understand the situation for firefighters, having to enter a home quickly only occurs in homes that are occupied. The chance of fire in an empty home is extremely minimal.”
“I don’t believe it should be a registration program that should be given to the public,” said Cape Coral Mayor Pro Tempore Gloria Raso Tate. “I believe it should be police and fire that should have it. And it protects you as much as it protects anybody. Because I think you would like to know if someone is headed to your home for a fire. We can pick up the phone and call you up north.
Not all the council was in favor of a registration program. The argument against it, from some council members, was that it doesn't guarantee the home is vacated.
The city council was never going to vote on the proposed ordinance on Wednesday. City Manager Roberto Hernandez ended the conversation by saying he will bring another revised ordinance to the council in the coming weeks. The hope is to have a decision on this before snowbirds leave the area.