On October 24 2005, I was in Gainesville, Florida at University of Florida, College Levin of Law, getting ready to walk into my Corporate Income Tax class. I received a phone call from my husband, Bobby, who was living in South Florida in our Tamarac, Florida home. Bobby informed me that the eye of Hurricane Wilma had passed and that our home went unscathed. I expected that news, after all, living in South Florida since 1994, our home in Tamarac, Florida had never suffered any damage. Hurricane Wilma had hit directly on the West Coast so the thought of anything major happening to our home on the East Coast of Florida was nil in my mind. In fact, the day before, we briefly thought that hurricane shutters were unnecessary. Five minutes after my class began, my husband called me again. This time he informed me that we just lost our roof.
I never imagined that when I moved to Gainesville, Florida to attend law school in 2003, I would never move back to my home in Tamarac, Florida. Our community and our home of eleven years in Vanguard Village was very important to us and we had no intent to leave. It was our first home as a married couple, and a place where we have many fond memories of friends, family and community.
I recently drove around the Vanguard Village neighborhood in 2011, and am saddened that 6 years have gone by in the neighborhood without full recovery since 2005. The community I once knew has not recovered to what it was when we moved from Wichita, Kansas in 1994. If we can’t fix the system to promote rapid recovery of past hurricanes, we cannot expect to handle any other disasters that may come our way.
My husband and I deeply understand the difficulties in post hurricane recovery. Many who have not gone through the process do not understand all the legalities involved, the importance of rapid response, the financial constraints, the intertwining of other interests involved -- the lender, contractors, insurance company, SBA, City code enforcement, the community association, and more. It took us time and a significant amount of correspondence to settle our insurance claim, but we did it without litigation.
This website was launched to provide a legal resource to those in the post hurricane recovery process. Although this site is not by any means comprehensive, it hits largely on the issues we encountered during negotiation with our insurance company, and also addresses many recent 2011 legislative amendments that may be relevant to future claims.
We would not have survived the post recovery process without the warm kindness of others who welcomed my husband when he had no home, and when finding a hotel was almost impossible. In particular, we thank Elisa Lucchi and her parents, Walter and Nina, and everyone from Brownie’s Third Lung for your kindness. We also thank our good friend, Michael J. Weiss, for his inspiring music: http://www.myspace.com/michaeljweiss/videos/video/107168840
God Bless and keep you safe,
Diane J. Zelmer
150 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderale, FL 33301