For the last several days, the entire state of Florida has been collectively holding its breath to see what happens with Hurricane Irma. We hope that those in its path will be safe and the damage left behind will be minimal.
When a hurricane strikes Florida, regardless of where it hits the hardest, the impacts will be felt across the state long after the storm is gone.
Even though we’ve been lucky over here in Sarasota and able to stay out of dodge, it’s important for people outside of Florida and in other “unaffected” areas of the state to understand what happens when your search is delayed because of a hurricane.
Usually when the governor announces a state of emergency, state offices will be closed — but the closure of municipal departments like code enforcement departments, or utility departments, is up to local government officials. A lot of times we see that when school districts close, the municipal departments will close, but that’s not always the case.
Right now we know that many municipalities in South Florida were closed at the end of this week and possibly will be closed Monday and beyond. That’s a potential 3-or-more business day loss as far as time to work on orders. At this point we can say to expect a 3-day delay, but there are other factors in play that must be considered.
Let’s say a municipality is 3-days behind because they had to be closed that long. Well, beyond those three days that were lost, they also usually have requests piling up and it takes them longer than normal to get through them all. That means a 3-day delay turns into a 3-5 day delay. It really isn’t until the departments are back to work before they can really assess how far behind they are and how long it will take them to fulfill requests.
We think back to late 2016 when Hurricane Matthew went barreling up the east coast and caused terrible flooding for St. Augustine and St. John’s County. We got word from the county that they were suspending operations and would not be completing current or new requests. It was many weeks before they were back up to their normal speed.
I can see how this would be particularly frustrating to someone from outside of Florida, or in another part of the state who may not realize the scope of the storm’s impact on a particular county, but the municipal workers do the best they can.
As always we will try to keep you, our client, up to speed on everything we can as the information becomes available. Our thoughts go out to the people in the storm’s path. Stay safe.