TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Thousands of homeowners across Florida are making changes to their homes to ensure they're strong enough to handle a hurricane. Destruction from Hurricanes Irma and Michael encouraging people across the street to protect their homes.
Local hurricane protection companies tell ABC Action News they’re busier now then they have been in 30 years.
St. Pete homeowner Pattie DeWitt just installed hurricane windows this week. It wasn’t a cheap investment. “We saved up our money and we think it's going to be worth the investment in the long run," DeWitt explained. “It makes us feel like we’re doing everything we can.”
DeWitt isn’t alone. Dozens of bay area companies, including A1 Windows and Doors and StormFitters say they are seeing the most business they have in decades!
“It has been crazy! I’ve worked here for 28 years, and this is off the charts,” explained Jim Dell of A1 Windows and Doors.
“Our phones are ringing significantly,” Bret Skonicki of StormFitters said, "It's by far the busiest we have been in years."
In fact, companies like StormFitters and A1 Windows are so slammed that there’s a 4-month backlog for hurricane glass.
It’s now about to get easier in Pinellas County to afford hurricane upgrades. County Commissioners are getting ready to expand a program called PACE (Property Accessed Clean Energy) which pays for hurricane hardening work up front and allows you to pay the cost back over 25 years on your property tax bill.
“It’s not a cheap improvement to the property but it pays off in the long run,” explained DeWitt.
The only downside: When you sell your home, that loan is passed on to the buyer, which could make your property less attractive to purchase.
The PACE program is already available for homeowners in Hillsborough and Pasco Counties and now Pinellas County hopes to have it up and running within three months.
St. Pete Homeowner Lee Nolan is glad he made the investment. He added hurricane windows just before Hurricane Irma and allowed his family members to take sanctuary in his home. “We were really relieved when our relatives felt secure in it. It’s nice to have a place for the family to hide out," Nolan said.