Seawall repairs a costly expense after Hurricane Irma

Posted at 9:07 AM, Sep 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 09:07:11-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Seawalls in Southwest Florida have been collapsing and ripping away from backyards after being slammed by Hurricane Irma. And if you live next to one, you probably know how challenging -- and costly -- repairs can be.

Fox 4 has been hearing from many residents wanting to know if any resources are available to ease some of the financial burden. Four in your corner took that question straight to Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

One Lee County woman tells Fox 4 that she's having a hard time getting the help she needs to make repairs.  “There's 8 feet of concrete back underneath the grass, so that's why that part's not falling down. But if that concrete slab had not been there, that whole thing would have been down too,” says Linda Marcelli.

She is one of many homeowners in Lee County who had to flee during the hurricane.  But when she came back, water was overflowing into her yard. 

And when the water level dropped, she found cracks in the concrete foundation of her seawall. The lamp post on her property toppled over and massive pieces of concrete missing.

Worse than the damage is the cost of getting it fixed. Marcelli says it'll cost more than $20,000 to repair the damage. 

So far she says she hasn't been able to get any help. “I tried FEMA, and my homeowner’s insurance doesn't cover it, of course.  And because I have homeowner’s insurance, they need something from my insurance company to tell me that the sea wall is not gonna be paid for.”

We called Linda's contractor.  He tells us the average cost of getting a seawall repaired could range from $40,000-$50,000, depending on the size of the land.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson says homeowners in need of seawall repairs can qualify for a federal loan or other financial assistance depending on your situation.  We asked what he says to those people who have tried to contact FEMA but could not get through.  “Look for a Nelson staffer," he says.

Linda says she's going to keep calling FEMA until she gets the help she needs.