Almost six months after the Florida Panhandle town of Mexico Beach was flattened by Hurricane Michael, property owners are questioning whether they can afford to rebuild.
It’s not simply a matter of property insurance payments and personal savings. Homeowners are facing stricter building-code provisions as they rebuild in an effort to protect against future storms.
The Mexico Beach City Council now requires new homes to be built 1.5 feet above where floodwaters are expected to rise in a 500-year storm – one that has a 0.2% chance of occurring in a given year. In some cases, this means elevating a home from 2 feet to 12 feet.
In addition, all new homes must be built to withstand 140 mph winds, up from 130 mph.
Residents say they began receiving inquiries from developers and investors looking to amass properties at a discount after the storm, but those inquiries subsided after Mexico Beach officials opted not to change the city’s zoning to accommodate larger developments. Some residents have even posted “Not for Sale” signs on their properties to ward off interested buyers.
City administrator Tanya Castro says that of 1,692 houses, condo buildings and other dwellings in Mexico Beach, 809 were destroyed or substantially damaged by the storm.
Source: Wall Street Journal (04/04/19) P. A3; Campo-Flores, Arian
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