Short- and Long-Term Hurricane Recovery
Bringing Staffing and Support to Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Equipping the Fort Myers Beach building department to prioritize and manage an influx of work following Hurricane Ian.
Fort Myers Beach is located on Estero Island off Florida’s Southwest coast. Facing the Gulf of Mexico, the town is home to approximately 7,200 people and covers about 6 square miles.
While Fort Myers Beach held an active contract with SAFEbuilt in 2022, they had no building department service needs for the first part of the year. However, in August 2022, the government’s talent administrator contacted SAFEbuilt for help placing an interim building official. In response, we provided the town with a residential inspector for hands-on support and a fully remote building official to fulfill State requirements.
The town secured its own building official just three days before Hurricane Ian reached the coastal town. When the hurricane fell upon Fort Myers Beach, the town only had its new building official and one building inspector. Their shortage of staff, combined with displaced residents and approximately 600 of their 3,200 structures destroyed, left the municipality in need of support to prioritize, manage, and execute work.
To meet the needs of the community, we supported Fort Myers Beach in the following areas.
In the wake of the storm, the town experienced leadership turnover, including the resignation of its talent administrator, town attorney, city manager, and select members of the Council. In addition to finding the municipality a building official before the hurricane, SAFEbuilt added to the building department’s bench to respond to the increase in workload.
By providing the inspectors, plan reviewers, and permitting clerks to handle the needs of the community, we were able to help push projects through quickly to keep the recovery process moving.
The first month following the hurricane was reserved for search and rescue, allowing no permit activity. When permitting was resumed, we brought in an additional full-time inspector on site to help bring electricity back to the community and review structures to ensure they were safe for occupancy.
Fort Myers Beach used a government software capable of handling the minimal permit requests they typically received; however, after the hurricane struck, they needed a way to expedite plan reviews.
Because the government was confined to their current software, we brought in permitting clerks to help route plan reviews from their system to our remote plan reviewers, then re-upload once completed. This allowed us to continue using their existing software, while still allowing the SAFEbuilt team to turn around each review quickly.
Because residents are responsible for submitting their permit applications, our permitting clerks are working with applicants to revise errors in their applications to get residents the permits they need to restore their homes. This assistance saves residents from having to identify the issue with their application and helps plan reviewers turn around each review faster.
Despite the unusual challenges Fort Myers Beach was experiencing when Hurricane Ian hit, they were able to respond to the disaster quickly and efficiently by bringing in additional hands. As new challenges arose, Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Inc., part of the SAFEbuilt family of brands, was able to offer the staffing and turnaround times the community needed to begin immediate recovery and long-term planning.
SAFEbuilt is a national company with a passion and commitment to local communities. Because we have a comprehensive body of talent spread across the country, we can accommodate emergency requests and attend to disaster areas quickly with the local knowledge you would desire from your dedicated response team.