Cover photo by Thomas Spencer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (10/9/2022) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractors in Fort Myers, Florida, installed the first temporary ‘Blue Roof’ the first home from the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.
“This storm was devastating, “said Fort Myers, Florida resident Barbara Powell-Wring. “I’ve been through three storms and this one was the worst I’ve ever saw and I want to thank everyone that was involved in helping me today, I thank God for you all.”
Just a week ago, when Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida, she wasn’t even sure she would have a roof as she could hear the heavy winds pounding and it sounded as the roof tearing off. Hurricane Ian, with strong winds and rain caused people to evacuate and flee their homes.
“This was the worst storm I’ve ever saw, my heart goes out to people that lost loved ones, this damage sustained was more than many were expecting,” said Powell-Wring.
The Power-Wring family’s roof was severely damaged and is the first person to receive one of what will soon be thousands of blue roofs to be installed in badly damaged Fort Myers. The roof was badly damaged but they still consider themselves lucky. Powell-Wring has lived in Fort Myers for 27 years and says Hurricane Ian was just terrible.
She said her daughter learned about the Blue Roof program on television by a local news station and quickly went online and signed up.
The free assistance program to homeowners is called Operation Blue Roof, which is a primary mission program managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency, reduces further damage to property until permanent repairs can be made.
“Today’s installation of the first Blue Roof is significant. It marks the start of the FEMA’s and Army Corps’ push to get temporary roofs on eligible storm-damaged houses in this area,” said Col. James L. Booth, Commander, Jacksonville District.
Ben Bremer, U.S. Army Corps resident engineer explained the purpose of the program is to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber reinforced sheeting to cover damaged roofs until permanent repairs can be made.
“This is a great program and it provides people with a sense of security if it rains and keeping animals out of their house until they can be permanently fixed,” said Bremer.
About Operation Blue Roof
• Operation Blue Roof is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for FEMA. The goal of the Blue Roof program is to provide homeowners in disaster areas with fiber-reinforced, industrial-strength sheeting to protect storm-damaged roofs until homeowners can make permanent repairs.
• This program is a NO COST service for homeowners. Operation Blue Roof is designed to protect property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm.
• The Blue Roof program is for primary residences, or a permanently occupied rental property with less than 50 percent of roof structure damage, to ensure the safe installation of the blue roof. Before installing a blue roof, the resident must certify property ownership and verify someone will occupy it after installation. The home must have been rendered structurally sound. Vacation rental properties are not eligible for this program. Flat roofs, roofs made of clay, slate, or asbestos tile do not qualify for the Blue Roof program.
• The deadline to sign up for the Blue Roof program is October 23, 2022.
About the Blue Roof Process:
• Following a disaster, FEMA assigns the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the task to activate Operation Blue Roof
• A resident begins by submitting a Right of Entry (ROE) request through the blueroof.us website or calling 888-ROOF-BLU (888-766-3258).
• Once an ROE is received, a USACE employee will conduct an assessment. The inspection may be completed virtually or in person. Remote reviews provide the same high-quality assessment as those done in person.
• In support of Operation Blue Roof, USACE mobilizes response teams, including contractors and Quality Assurance representatives, and ensures plastic sheeting is available to perform installations.
• Training is conducted for Quality Assurance representatives to ensure consistent quality delivery of the service.
• Installations can be affected by inclement weather that creates conditions that are unsafe for contractors and USACE personnel. Hazardous factors can include rain, wind, or lightning. Installations resume as soon as possible after conditions improve.
• On the day of your installation, teams will bring all required equipment and supplies to your house. The Blue Roof installation is intended to protect the roof from additional weather damage for a minimum of 30 days from installation. While they are not warrantied, they have lasted longer and stayed intact in tropical-storm-force winds.
• The team will not contact you before arriving at your residence. The ROE provides authority for the installation to occur without the resident being present.
• Quality Assurance and Quality Control representatives confirm the proper installation of the Blue Roof and inform contractors of any necessary corrections.
“Every home is equally important,” said Booth. ” But you can’t get to 30,000 without starting with one.”
Story by Mark Rankin, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District