Blue tarps remain as Hurricane Irma roof damage claims take time

Homeowners rush to make repairs before blue tarps erode

ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricane Irma tore through Central Florida nearly two months ago, and plenty of homes are still in disrepair, many sporting those blue-tarped roofs.

Under Operation Blue Roof, a program implemented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, residents could receive stronger tarps until more permanent repairs could be made. 

"The trees caused a lot of damage to our roof,'" Orange County resident Anthony Bergalowski said.

His blue tarp was put up quickly, but has started to tear in several places.

"If you take a close look at them in several places, they're ripping where they're held down," he added. 

He's waiting for his FEMA claim to process. 

"We have several trees that are down that we need help from FEMA for," he explained. "Insurance wouldn't cover [the trees], so we're at a standstill getting our roof done." 

FEMA guidelines say the blue roofs are meant to be replaced with a permanent roof within 30 days. The problem is that many people are struggling to get claims processed and roofers to come and fix their roofs in such a short amount of time.

"We've got literally thousands of requests so far and we're trying to get to everybody as fast as we can," said Andrew Mosher, with Collis Roofing. "The ultraviolet light, the sunshine here in Florida is why everybody lives here. That's what beats up those tarps really bad. After 30-60 days, they really don't have much life left in them."

Mosher is already getting calls to replace blue tarps and asks homeowners to stay on top of their insurance companies to speed up the process.

"Making sure they get those estimates back in a timely manner," he added.

It's a balancing act for people like Bergalowksi, who has to move fast while the necessary funds are gathered.

"Playing the waiting game," he added. "We're being patient and hoping FEMA will come through." 

The good news for people like Bergalowski is that those blue tarps shouldn't get many people in trouble with code enforcement. Several municipalities told News 6 they've relaxed their rules with replacing blue tarps as the cleanup continues.

About the Author:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.