Temporary free roof repairs underway after Hurricane Irma

Residents can sign up through Operation Blue Roof

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – Residents in Sumter County continue to rebuild after Hurricane Irma.

"It gave Sumter County a black eye," said David Casto, director of emergency management with Sumter County. 

Roofs around the county are covered with nothing more than a tarp and some cinder blocks. 

But over at the Sumter County government offices, the doors are open for those looking for help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operation Blue Roof. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be at 910 N. Main St. in Bushnell at 8 a.m. everyday to accept applications for the program.

Residents can learn where to apply for the free program here.
"Tarp would be a temporary patch; our blue roof is a more permanent temporary patch," said Joe Kolodziej, with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. "They're not tarps, it's actually rolled roofing material that has characteristics of a tarp but it's going to last longer than a tarp. It's not going to degrade as quickly from the sun." 

Fourteen questions help determine if homeowners qualify for a free blue roof installed by professional contractors with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including "Do you own the home and what kind of roof do you have?" 

"The blue roofs are expected to last 30 days, but if installed correctly, they may last longer than that," Kolodziej said. 

But not every roof is eligible for Operation Blue Roof. If you lost more than 50 percent of your home, a blue roof won't do you much good.

"Next is finding a contractor to start rebuilding my house," said Barbara Sebekow, of Wildwood, who lost most of her roof during the hurricane. Sebekow tried applying for a blue roof, but was told she needed more drastic work done to her home. 

Crews with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expect to be out and assessing homes in the area and starting repairs over the next several days.

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