Irma Clobbered Seawalls

As parts of Florida continue to recover from the wrath of Hurricane Irma, there’s at least one common headache for area homeowners. Irma left her mark on a number of seawalls, especially those in the Cape Coral area. Some local contractors says they’ve been inundated with calls from property owners, many dealing with either partially damaged seawalls or those in need of complete replacement following the hurricane. It’s estimated that it could take several months to repair all of the damage to the seawalls alone, with hundreds of phone calls coming in from concerned local residents. The damage began when Irma pushed coastal water away, putting pressure on the seawall, then heavy rainwater drained out toward the canals, putting even more pressure on the land side of the seawall. Without enough saltwater supporting the outside of the seawall, the heavy rain resulted in an unequal pressure of land and water, leading to even bigger problems for home and property owners. Although Bonita Springs and Punta Gorda have also reported some seawall issues, the problem appears most significant in Cape Coral, due to its miles upon miles of canals. To help homeowners out, city leaders are looking for solutions. Repairing or replacing a seawall could run in the thousands of dollars, and normally isn’t covered by insurance plans. Created by the Florida legislature, the PACE program can help arrange loans that are then paid out to third party contractors, repaid by homeowners via an assessment on their property tax. There may also be federal assistance available through FEMA or through the Small Business Administration, qualifying storm victims for low-interest, disaster loans. In the meantime, contractors continue to field calls from concerned property owners, looking for help in shoring up, or in some cases replacing, their clobbered seawalls in the wake of destruction left by Hurricane Irma.

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