Monroe County was able to utilize a new preliminary damage inspection software application following Tropical Storm Eta in the Key Largo area. The preliminary damage assessment process is performed by Monroe County inspectors who inspect structures and estimate damage following a natural disaster. The County then reports the inspection results to the State of Florida, who coordinates with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the amount of damage and unmet needs of individuals, businesses, the public sector, and the community as a whole. This is vital information for the federal government to determine how much funding will follow to an area to assist a community and residents.
In the past, Monroe County had conducted these inspections using a time-consuming manual process and paper submittals. Following Hurricane Irma, the County implemented an automated inspection process, where inspectors record their inspection results through their cell phones with preloaded maps and outlines of existing structures within each neighborhood. Pictures are then uploaded to assure adequate records are kept. The county tested the system a few months ago using the phone’s airplane mode to mimic loss of signal while in the field, which would then allow the first level of inspection after a storm to be uploaded in hours rather than inputted over days.
With Tropical Storm Eta, the process worked in a real situation. Inspectors were ready to do inspections countywide; however, after learning the significant impacts from Eta were located in the Upper Key, the County focused on MM 98 north. With the new application, the County was able to review 7,666 homes in Key Largo within two days.
“This new tool improves accuracy and, more importantly, it streamlines the amount of time it takes for these inspections to be recorded and reported to the state and federal governments,” said Christine Hurley, Monroe County Assistant Administrator.
In addition to the preliminary damage assessments, Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi also spent Monday morning in the Twin Lakes and Stillwright Point areas of Key Largo assessing issues with the Tiger Dam system in place in those areas.