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Florida municipalities still wrestling with Hurricane Irma costs

Homeowners and local governments in Florida are continuing to struggle two years after Hurricane Irma hit the region. The Category 4 storm struck the Florida Keys first before proceeding up the coast in September 2017 and left behind an array of debris as it traveled, including uprooted trees and bushes, broken branches and damaged palm fronds. In Orange County alone, local governments spent over $25 million to deal with storm damage, while Seminole County shouldered the burden of $17.8 million in costs. In Lake County, they paid $9.3 million, while they paid $5.8 million in Orlando and $4.9 million in Osceola.

There are millions of dollars in pending expenses waiting for reimbursement from FEMA to cover the costs. Some payments have come through, but Orange County is still waiting on its total of $31.6 million in expenses related to the storm. These types of long reimbursement delays are common when dealing with the federal government, but they have raised questions as counties and municipalities plan their budgets for the future. Local representatives have lobbied members of Congress and the federal government to move forward with reimbursements to give affected municipalities more stability. Because FEMA considered Irma such a major disaster, it pledged to pay 90% of eligible claims rather than the standard 75%.

The same situation is faced by many homeowners throughout the state after a hurricane. They may find delays or even claim denials when they file hurricane damage claims. Homeowners' insurance companies may take a long time to pay out, leaving homeowners carrying significant debt or waiting to pursue major repairs until they receive that insurance check.

Homeowners struggling with insurance claim denial or delays after a hurricane or other damage may be unsure how to pressure their insurers. An insurance law attorney might help Florida homeowners to pursue the compensation they need.

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