Hurricane Irma’s Test

hurricane-irmas-test-stormDevastating storms often bring out the very best in people. Texans continuing to care for one another in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey is just one example. On Friday the 8th, two days before Irma’s eventual arrival in SW Florida, I started receiving text messages, emails and phone calls from several customers (every client in fact) who we’ve designed homes for on Boca Grande. All were far away, safe from the storm, but they were reaching out in concern for our safety with barely a mention of their homes. By Saturday morning, nearly everyone was sure Irma, then a CAT5 hurricane, was headed for SW Florida.

That same Friday, I also spoke to David Benner, owner of the appropriately named, Safety Harbor Builders. I passed on to David the concerns as well as the goodwill of the people who’s homes his company built. We spoke about the building codes that went into effect after hurricane Andrew and the more stringent codes that followed. We were certain that new engineering aspects of the code, as well as the improved practices by conscientious builders like him, would be put to the test.

No additional shutters necessary

That’s not all that would be tested by Irma. Many of the home’s Andersen 400 Series Stormwatch windows, would take a direct assault from 100+ mile per hour winds. But Andersen has been making windows for harsh coastal environments for a very long time, rightfully earning the trust of so many. One home owner called asking if they should install shutters over their 400 Series windows. I assured them this would not be necessary!

Irma arrived with hurricane force winds that spanned 130 miles. It was a huge and dangerous storm. Quaint Boca Grande is at the southern end of Gasparilla Island in Lee County, an exposed half mile wide and seven mile long island jutting southward from the main land with the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the mouth of the flood prone Peace River to the east. For a half a day Irma battered SW Florida, living through a hurricane is a frightening experience indeed! Through Sunday night and a very long Monday, every Floridian was worried about their home and very worried about the safety of their loved ones. I sure was.

Remnant Irma weather bands remained even on Tuesday morning but the sun managed to peak through. By 9 am I began receiving texts of relief and gratitude from a number of Boca Grande homeowners, all Safety Harbor Builder customers with Wright Jenkins designed homes.

Below is just one example text that was from Mark who’s Boca Grande home is immediately across from Gulf of Mexico beaches.

“Randy [project manager] has already done an exterior inspection and the house is fine! Who designed that fortress?! Thank you! I hope you guys got thru OK!”

He then followed up;

“I gotta tell you, Safety Harbor Builders and especially Randy are just the best! Glad you are OK!”

Turns out, as soon as it was safe, Safety Harbor Builder’s project managers inspected the recently built homes and those under construction. In spite of the devastating winds, every home was intact, with no damage to report. The home owners were immediately contacted with the good news.

It’s no wonder why I tell all of my Boca Grande customers that I feel fortunate to have designed custom homes built by Safety Harbor Builders. David Benner’s commitment to fine quality, high-end home building and outstanding customer service is the best. He just has a genuine concern for his clients. Even his appreciation of his employees is admirable. And we love contributing to a great customer experience!

It’s satisfying to know that together we passed hurricane Irma’s test. Designing, engineering and building beautiful homes meant to defend against natures worst, is no accident.

Written on September 15th, five days after (and still without power) the arrival of hurricane Irma by Dave Jenkins owner of:

Wright Jenkins Home Design

Energy Smart Home Plans

Diane Zwack

Diane Zwack has been a professional marketing and art director in the luxury home design and real estate industries for over 25 years. She has recently been focused on the promotion and branding for hi-performance residential design and for luxury residential design. Diane has also been involved in the publishing arena with the design of numerous books and magazines that have won both industry recognition and trade awards.

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