Monday, September 22, 2008
Help Me Howard: Storm Shutters
Put them up or take them down. It's the storm shutter question typical in South Florida, especially when tropical trouble threatens like it did a few weeks ago. One homeowner thought he was doing the right thing protecting his property as storm's lined up in the Atlantic, until his association told him to remove his shutters. Here's Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- At this time of the year, people up north are waiting for the leaves to fall, while people down here are waiting for the next storm to spring up.
Michael Pasquerella: "I watch the Weather Channel, I watch Channel Seven, I watch the news, and I pay very close attention because it is something you can't wait for the last minute."
And in August when Fay threatened Florida, Michael Pasquerella knew what he had to do.
Michael Pasquerella: "When Fay was announced as a Tropical Storm, and they weren't sure whether it was going to increase in strength, I proceeded to install my shutters."
After Fay passed, Michael could have taken his shutters down, but common sense said why because Gustav had popped up, then was soon trailed by Hanna, Ike and Josephine, all at one point out in the Atlantic.
Michael Pasquerella: "They were lining up, and nobody knew for sure where we were headed."
So instead of using a ladder to open some of his second floor shutters, and then have to climb back up a few days later to close them if the storms got closer, Michael left them.
Michael Pasquerella: "I was in no rush to remove those panels because there was three other storms behind that, not knowing where those storms were going, so I left those accordions up."
Then, a few days later when Ike grew into a monster and appeared to be aimed for South Florida, Mike put up the shutters on the first floor as well.
Michael Pasquerella: "My number one goal is protecting my home and protecting my family. That's my goal."
It might have been his goal, but while he was putting up his shutters the mail arrived, and he found out his homeowners association had a different goal.
Michael Pasquerella: "Received a letter from my association saying, 'You are in violation of the documents, please remove your shutters.' To my surprise there's a named storm out there, and it may be coming right at us."
Michael did what he thought he should do and contacted the management company.
Michael Pasquerella: "I spoke to the manager's assistant she was going to have him call me back. I haven't received that call yet."
The shutter shocker letter, to put it politely stunned Michael.
Michael Pasquerella: "In Florida especially it's normal procedure they tell you, over and over again, don't wait till the last minute, secure your home. At that point, you have three named storms with Ike included. Do I take them down? Do I put them up? What do I do?"
So Howard, who do you listen to? The hurricane experts or your condo or homeowner association?
Howard Finkelstein: "This letter was silly, and it may come as a shock to associations and management companies, but if the weather experts are saying get ready now, condo and homeowners documents are overruled. When it comes to hurricanes, focus on your family's safety and protecting your property and ignore any association directives to the contrary."
The property manager for the Coco Bay homeowners association told us the letter was simply a friendly request to take down shutters to keep properties looking good. However, the letter says address the items immediately, and it is dated September 3, when storms were sitting in the Atlantic. The property manager did say Michael would not be fined for ignoring the letter, and when it comes to ignoring associations, be careful.
Howard Finkelstein: "While I say ignore the associations rules when a storm is out there, it doesn't mean you can ignore them after it passes. You can't leave your shutters up for weeks at a time even during hurricane season if the rules prohibit it. When there is no threat, if the association says take them down, you have to."
Michael's shutters are now down and this incident has convinced him. When it comes to some associations and their rules, someone should step in.
Michael Pasquerella: "I think the people in Tallahassee need to take a real close look on who dictates when and when you can't put up the shutters, especially during the hurricane season in South Florida."
Patrick Fraser: "Since we started doing Help me Howard 10 years ago, condo and homeowner associations rank at the top for causing headaches for South Floridians. Some of these associations are run by, well, to put it politely, real pieces of work. If you have common sense, get on your board and stop the inmates from running the asylum."
Stormy situation taking aim at you? Shudder the thought of having no-where to turn? Contact us, we'll help you weather the storm.FOR MORE INFORMATION:
EMAIL: email@example.com (please include your contact number when emailing)