Fla. Teams Help Speed Structural Damage Estimates Following Hurricanes

November 22, 2004

Crews of professional estimators, supervised by architects and engineers, are helping local officials in 10 of the hardest-hit Florida counties assess the level of hurricane damage to several thousand residential structures in order to determine their reconstruction requirements.

Under Florida law and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements, local governments must assess the percentage of storm damage to buildings for compliance to local and statewide building codes. If damage to buildings exceeds 50 percent of the structure’s pre-disaster market value, the building is deemed to have been “substantially damaged” and, if reconstructed, must be brought up to codes established to withstand floods and winds.

Local government officials – not the teams – will determine the pre-disaster structure values. The idea behind the rule that establishes the percentage of loss is to rebuild in ways that reduce future disaster damage as well as provide safer structures.

At the request of local governments and the state of Florida, the teams are providing technical assistance to officials in Brevard, DeSoto, Escambia, Hardee, Indian River, Martin, Okaloosa, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa and Volusia counties to survey an estimated 10,000 structures in those counties to determine the costs of their reconstruction. Officials say the expedited survey will take about a month.

Members of the teams will be supervised by an architect or engineer and will carry government identification. They will turn over their reconstruction cost estimates to local officials who, with the help of “Residential Substantial Damage Estimator” software programs, will more quickly determine the percentage of damage to buildings, enabling owners to rebuild faster.

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