MONROE COUNTY, FL – To date, 199 households in Monroe County have registered for FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program known as STEP. This new, $10 million grant program in the Keys provides up to $20,000 in repairs to primary homes damaged but not destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
It is not too late to apply for this program. But any homeowner who is interested should do so soon. Details are below.
The purpose of the rapid repair program is to enable eligible individuals or families to take shelter in their own homes while they rebuild. This includes a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and air-conditioning for this livable area of the home. The program is at no cost to the homeowner.
So far 53 households throughout Monroe County have gone through the inspection phase and have been approved for repairs. The first construction work is scheduled to begin next week, possibly as early as Monday, Dec. 11. The approved household locations: 20 on Big Pine Key, 16 on Marathon, 6 on Cudjoe Key, 5 on Summerland Key, 2 on Islamorada, 2 on Little Torch Key, 1 in Key West and 1 in Tavernier.
STEP is available for disaster-damaged, single family, owner-occupied residential properties in Monroe County. These include duplexes, townhomes, modular homes and permanently placed mobile homes. Other types of owner occupied residences may be eligible, subject to approval by the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) on a case-by-case basis.
If you own the mobile home and live in the mobile home, but lease the site where it is located, you are eligible for the program.
A home is not eligible if it cannot be made safe for sheltering purposes, including due to the presence of excessive toxic or hazardous materials, for less than the $20,000 cap. However, if the price to make it livable is not much more than $20,000, it is possible to have volunteer groups, the homeowners or others do some of the cleanup or repairs to make the contracted work price tag fall under the cap.
STEP Is NOT available for travel trailers, RVs, commercial properties and commonly owned areas, structures or equipment.
To apply for the STEP program, call the STEP hotline at 1-800-960-5860. It is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. After applying by phone, required documentation can be scanned and emailed to Step@monroecounty-fl.gov.
For more information about the STEP program and for forms and application, go to Monroe County’s website STEP Program page at http://www.monroecounty-fl.gov/index.aspx?NID=728.
Monroe County is the recipient of the FEMA grant for the STEP program, which is being administered by the State of Florida. The contracted work for the repairs is paid directly by Monroe County.
Here is an example of an approved household in Monroe County and the work that will be done through the STEP program:
Homeowners on Big Pine Key applied for STEP assistance. Their home is raised approximately 3 feet from the ground and was inundated with approximately 30 inches of storm surge inside the home. The metal roof also was damaged by high winds. Inspectors found the homeowners living in their shed. They were unable to shelter in their home due to multiple hazards.
The Process: Homeowners signed a Right of Entry form that allowed inspectors onto their property. Inspectors determined if the home can be repaired to meet the program’s livability and safety criteria, as well as the $20,000 cap.
These repairs were scoped in the field by the project manager (Adjusters International), the construction management firm (SLSCO, LTD.). All parties, including most importantly the homeowners, signed off on the Scope of Work (repair plan) before it was sent to the County for approval. The repairs will begin soon. And, once the repairs are completed, all parties – including the homeowners – must sign off that the repairs in the plan were all done and completed correctly.
The Repair Plan: This is the STEP program’s repair plan for these homeowners:
- The damaged roof sections will be repaired with a self-adhesive membrane roofing material that will ensure the leaks are taken care of.
- Two of the exterior doors were deteriorated past the point of being able to operate (open/close/lock). These units will be replaced with a basic Insulated metal door and hardware.
- The subfloors were severely damaged in certain areas. These areas will be replaced with CDX sheathing (exterior plywood) to ensure the flooring system is safe and secure.
- Interior drywall that was below the flood line was removed.
- Wooden access stairs to the home were severely damaged. They will be replaced with treated wooden stairs that meet local and national codes (handrails and landing).
- The electrical system was damaged in the saltwater storm surge. The outlets and service panel that were submerged will be replaced, and the entire electrical system will be inspected to ensure that there are no hazards.
- The plumbing system was functional (supply lines still in place, and septic system still functioning) at the time of inspection.
- The water heater was missing, and will be replaced to provide hot water to shower.
- To outfit a usable bathroom, a bathroom was privatized with an interior door and water resistant drywall (unfinished/unpainted). A simple fiberglass shower, toilet and pedestal sink will be installed.
- The kitchen will be usable by the installation of a temporary kitchen sink (double sink in a rough framed base), a food preparation surface (framed base similar to sink with a laminate top) and a small appliance package to enable storage and preparation of food.
- The central HVAC system was severely damaged (condenser submerged) and not running at the time of inspection. To air condition the living space, window unit air conditioners will be installed.
- The home will be cleaned after the construction is finished.
- And lastly, the home will be outfitted with smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector for safety.
Although these are only temporary repairs, the applicant will be able to shelter in their home safely until permanent and final repairs can be made.