COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. -- It’s been exactly one year since Hurricane Irma made landfall in Southwest Florida and people are still in need. However, it could be a while before people get help fixing their damaged homes.
That’s because insurance companies are overwhelmed with claims and contractors can't keep up with the high demand of repairs needed across the Southwest Florida area.
In Marco Island, more than 8,000 homes still need repairs.
The backlog means many people are waiting six to ten months for work to begin.
One reason for the delay is a shortage in material, especially roof tiles.
According to one contractor, homeowners are now finding damage they didn't realize was there after the hurricane, so you may want to take a second look at your home.
That way, there are no unexpected repairs that come up down the road, costing you even more money.
"Being proactive is always a good policy when it comes to your roof because in four years, if you start developing a lot of leaks from the tile lift that was created from Hurricane Irma, it's going to be too late,” said Dale Ylitalo, Project Manager at EZ General and Roofing Contractors. “There is nothing you can do about it but to replace the roof so that's going to get expensive."
Ylitalo says working with a licensed contractor is worth it in the end because you get a proper inspection, to ensure your home is safe.
When it comes to insurance, talk to your agent and check your policy.
He says most policies only have a one to two-year window to cover repairs, even though under Florida law, it's five years.
Hundreds of homes still have bright blue tarps covering their roofs.
The main reasons are that homeowners can't afford repairs or they're waiting on their contractor or insurance company.
Tarps are only a temporary fix.
This puts a home in even more risk, for more damage.
"It's going to be a large challenge for homeowners who have not had anything done,” said Ylitalo. “Some have had temporary repairs, some had repairs thinking they are permanent but they actually need roof replacement so if another hurricane hits, it's going to be a mess around here."
Ylitalo says several homes experienced leaks after Tropical Storm Gordon.
Usually tarps last between four and six months.
If you have a tarp on your roof, make sure it's secure and not wearing off.
As for pool screens and cages, it's a good idea to get those repaired if you haven't already.
It's about $20,000 to 40,000 for a full repair, depending on the size.
If another storm hits and causes more damage, contractors say you're looking at paying a much bigger bill.