Hurricane Irma – My Florida Home Is Badly Affected

Hurricane Irma – My Florida Home Is Badly Affected

9:45 AM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago 13

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Some Property118 Readers will know that I built my dream home at Hart Lake Hill, Winter Haven in Florida.

A few years ago I decided to let the property long term.

I have many friends in the area too and just received the email below from my best friend and neighbour in the area.

It’s 3:51 a.m. here. Can’t see outside but know there is a lot of damage in Hart Lake Hills. The wind is still unbelievable, light a freight train coming through at times. Strongest were near 100 mph. They are still around 50 or so; devastating wind. I have received texts from Kim Sierra beginning at midnight. She said water was coming into some of the bedrooms. There was nothing I could do; we’re still not allowed outside because of the severity of the hurricane. Another text said the pool screens were all ripped away. Mine, too and many others as well.

She was hysterical when she called me at 12:21 am telling me that the windows had blown out of the house and that the pool cage was down.

911 was called to find out what could be done and to ask if they could at least call her directly to find out what was happening. She texted me a couple more times asking how long. I told her to call 911 herself. Perhaps they would be able to give her more information since she is the one living there and she can explain the events. Haven’t heard since. No one is allowed on the streets. Even emergency vehicles will not go out unless winds are lower than 40 mph. Without seeing what is damaged I went ahead and called in a claim to get the paperwork started.

The 24 hour claim line took the information and will pass it to the person who will handle this claim. No call yet (I called them at 2:55 am).

I have NEVER been through anything like this. I already know I have shingles (roof tiles) that have blown off of the roof because I can see them around the pool. The screens are all ripped and hanging; not sure about the stability of the cage frame. The pool cage collapsed around midnight at the house that is 3 houses before mine. The next house closer to mine has a tree down across his driveway and the house before mine has water coming in at the floors in two of his rooms and heard something hit his roof. The rain was blowing into my side door to the garage (it faces your Mum’s house). I had to keep putting towels there all night and changing them constantly. The wind was driving the rain into
the building.

I will keep you up to date on what is happening once it is light out and it is safe to open a door to get a look at the devastation. This is one of  the most stressful events EVER.

Hugs to both,


The link below is to a video which went viral on Facebook last night. It’s not my house but it’s one just like it.


It’s at times like this you realise that property is not important. I am desperately worried about my tenant and everybody else in the area.

Last time a Hurricane hit Hart Lake and blew windows out of a property the roof lifted and the property split into two halves. Furniture was thrown around so violently it made holes in the walls. Thankfully, there was nobody in that property at the time. Last night, my tenants wife was home alone with her children, the man of the house was working away and couldn’t get back to Florida and they couldn’t get out because of the total gridlock on the roads due to 6 million people being evacuated.

I will keep you informed.

Please keep us in your thoughts.

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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

10:49 AM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago


I have been able to contact my tenants via their cellphone.

They are hiding in the master bathroom closest and are obviously very tired (it's 05:48 over there and they've obviously not slept at all) and they are also very frightened because they have no idea how much damage has occurred and no idea when somebody will be able to come out to rescue them.

It seems like the structural integrity of the property has held up and will hopefully continue to do so now that the worst is over (we hope!).

I didn’t ask her whether she had tenants contents insurance for obvious reasons. I let the property unfurnished but she has love lovely stuff in there. I just wanted her to know that I was aware of what is going on and that they are in our thoughts and prayers. She seemed grateful for that.


15:02 PM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Hi Mark,
I would have thought you were recently well protected inland. We have a home right on the east coast, so definitely a "bum clenching" moment for a while. We've been using local web cams to get an idea of the weather and damage and a friend has just messaged to say they still have no power, but thankfully no major damage either.

My wife and family only arrived back in the UK on Tuesday after 2 months over there, so literally a very close shave!

Good luck. Hopefully it will all be ok.


Paul Goulder

16:41 PM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Hi mark
It's been very scary here we have just got back to our condo after leaving early sat morning as it was getting so bad here we stayed in a safe hotel our condo is fine
We thank god we are ok
It's been an awful experience
Di & Paul

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

16:56 PM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Goulder at 11/09/2017 - 16:41
Hi Paul

I hadn't realised you were stateside. Pleased to hear you and Di are OK

Annie Landlord

18:11 PM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago

It's been desperate. I have a home on the east coast, about 40 miles from Orlando. Thankfully my friends there are all safe and the only damage to my house is to fencing. I hope your tenants will be okay, and that you have hurricane and flood insurance!

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

18:18 PM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Annie Landlord at 11/09/2017 - 18:11
Hi Paul

Yes we have Hurricane and flood insurance, but with a thumping great excess so we're going to have to dip into reserves to sort this. Oh well, we've been lucky for the last 15 years and this is why we retain a liquidity fund, it's our own little form of self insurance.

We knew the risks when we built this property but the rewards of ownership are far greater so I cannot complain.

I am just thankful that my tenants and all of our friends out there have reported they are safe.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

22:20 PM, 11th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Here's a picture of the damage to my Florida property ...

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

14:47 PM, 14th September 2017, About 7 years ago

I have just learned that my insurance deductible (policy excess) for Hurricane Damage is 5% of the insurance rebuild cost. In my case that $23,750.

Thankfully, at least I now know that I'm covered and the insurers are not trying to wriggle out under an 'act of God' clause.

Peter Waller

8:18 AM, 16th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Really upsetting to read this. We also have a property at Bradenton on the Gulf Coast. By an absolute miracle it didn't suffer.

5% deductible is quite normal. I did a lot of insurance policy reading just before it hit! Take lots of pics of everything. Don't fix anything unless unsafe until an assessor has visited. Be prepared to haggle with your insurance company as they will try to settle the claim quickly but you will have no recourse if your repairs cost more.

In Texas the government have told insurance companies to pay up or face an 18% interest charge (I read this somewhere but can't confirm the source or if it's indeed true.). There's a good chance something like this will happen in Florida.

Please keep this post going on progress as it's an inevitability that owning property in Florida will eventually lead to a claim!

I'm in Florida in 3 weeks. If I can help you in any way please contact me.


Nick Pope

9:32 AM, 16th September 2017, About 7 years ago

Sorry to hear how badly you were affected Mark.
We have 2 villas next to one another but were comparatively lucky and only lost a few shingles of the roofs. Our insurance would cover the damage but the deductible is 2% so we probably won't bother. In addition our premium is well below most other people's so we are keeping quiet.
I was however warned that there will be very high quotes for the work by profiteering repair companies.
We've also been lucky as power stayed on throughout.
We had guests in one of the villas at the time and they found it all very exciting - I wonder if we should make an extra charge for providing entertainment!

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