Dealing with life after Irma

City Commissioner Robert Stuart

I read a timely quote recently: “The greatest test is when you are able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storm.” When Hurricane Irma impacted all of Florida last month, I felt grateful to see this occurring over and over in our great city. Neighbors helping neighbors, despite their own issues to handle, was the norm, not the exception.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so I want to share a few photos of neighbors helping neighbors in District 3. From organized groups like Edgewater High School students and Christ City Church to individuals lending a hand, our residents’ resiliency impressed me.

As we begin the first full month following this hurricane that claimed the lives of more than 40 Florida residents and placed an estimated $50 billion price tag on costs to our state, we ask for your continued partnership in recovery efforts. The process may be tedious at times.

A few reminders:

The City of Orlando has waived permit fees for hurricane-related repairs (valued at $10,000 or less) through October 15 for commercial properties and December 14 for residential properties. Call 407-246-2271 or email permittingservices@cityoforlando.net for information and to begin the process.

I know we’re all antsy to get started on repairs, but please take time to verify a contractor’s license at myfloridalicense.com.

If your property sustained damage, please register at fema.gov in case you qualify for individual FEMA assistance.

As your neighborhood or business begins rebuilding, don’t forget about our matching grant assistance opportunities. For commercial businesses, we offer the small business façade program and business assistance program. For neighborhood improvements, we have the mayor’s matching grant program. These programs accept applications all year. Visit cityoforlando.net for details.

The amount of yard debris left by Hurricane Irma is more than the City of Orlando would normally collect over 4.5 years. Our crews have been working seven days a week to pick up this debris. We will do three full passes of our entire city, but because of the impact of Hurricane Harvey preceding Irma, contractors are in short supply while responding across Texas and Florida. Our contractors are working as quickly as they can to assist with our cleanup. If you see anything that still poses a dangerous safety hazard, please email me at robert.stuart@cityoforlando.net.

Many of us feel better helping others; it can take our minds off other issues. There are still many volunteer opportunities. Visit disasterassistance.gov and volunteerflorida.org for storm-related opportunities.

If you were lucky to know College Park’s beloved Andrea Kudlacz, who we lost too soon, maybe adopt her morning affirmation. She would recite her favorite Bible verse: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad IN it.” Then she would ask God to give her someone she could help that day.

As always, thanks for all your help in making College Park an amazing place to live, work, play and raise a family. I am honored to serve you.

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