BALLAST POINT When the month of March went out like a lion, spawning wicked weather that heavily damaged one South Tampa neighborhood, most property owners promptly began removing toppled trees and other debris while arranging repairs to roofs and windows.
But nearly four months later, some damaged properties in the hardest-hit Ballast Point area around the Interbay and Bayshore boulevards intersection have attracted the attention of Tampa Code Enforcement.
"We're going to work a sweep down there and serve notice" that repairs must be completed in a timely manner, said Kevin Amos, code enforcement supervisor for that district. "We have received complaints from property owners in that area. We've been to that area frequently and have an inspector assigned to that area," Amos said. "We've tried to allow them that grace period, but we don't see whole lot movement down there when comes to compliance."
Some areas of the neighborhood of town houses and single-family homes resemble a construction site, populated by roofers and other workers repairing damage from the March 31st storm, which also took down trees and numerous utility poles, leaving many residences without electrical power for four days.
"I know these people got hit hard," said Tom Walker of Gene Dunn Gutters in Oldsmar as he put finishing touches on a town house on Lykes Court, one block north of the Interbay/Bayshore boulevards intersection. "We replaced all the gutters on this unit and I'm quoting (estimates for) two other ones" in the neighborhood.
An April 21 building permit for the structure's roof is affixed to a front-porch wall, while a plastic packet holds several others.
"I think this one is going to be 100 percent once I get this (last) gutter up," Walker said from atop a ladder.
No one is happier about that than Peter J. Klingler, owner of that residence at 2614 W. Lykes Court.
"We lost like half of our roof," which resulted in extensive water damage to the middle floor of the three-story structure, Klinger said. The top-floor master bedroom and the ground-floor living area were undamaged.
"The second level, which is basically two bedrooms and a guest bath, was pretty much wiped out" by rain pouring through the damaged roof, taking down ceilings and walls, he said.
The building permit process was seamless, "And we haven't had any trouble at all with the insurance company. And the people working on the inside (of the town house) have been real good," summarized Klingler.
"We had an awful lot of trouble with the roofer; he was not real reliable as to showing up when he said he was going to show up," Klingler said. "The quality of work was fine, it just took a lot longer than you would have thought it would," delaying interior repairs awaiting the new roof.
After the storm, the roofer Klingler hired landed quite a few jobs in the neighborhood. "There was lot of work all at once; he got a lot of jobs and not enough people to take care of them," Klingler said.
The town house attached to Klingler's is among those in the neighborhood awaiting a new roof.
At a town house on Interbay Boulevard, blue tarps cover a portion of the roof and a large rear window. Plywood covers the entry to the two-car garage.
Across Bayshore Boulevard, the Art Studio of Tampa remains in rubble. A "condemned" sign posted by Tampa Code Enforcement advises that what remains of the concrete block structure is subject to demolition.
Jason Boone, who opened and briefly operated the studio at 5701 Interbay Blvd., concedes the structure needs much work, but said he plans to reopen. "I'm working on it," he said recently before terminating a brief telephone conversation.
"We're not used to these little disasters," said Amos, the Tampa Code Enforcement district supervisor. "Fires are our most common unfortunate isolated disasters," usually impacting a single structure.
"When something like that occurs, we'll allow an unofficial grace period for the property owner to deal with their insurance company" and arrange repairs, Amos said.
"Code Enforcement is not punitive in nature; we serve them with notice of a violation" explaining what must be done to correct the problem. "There's not even the threat of a hearing at that point," Amos said.
The inspector returns regularly to survey progress. "It's still not punitive at that point, but we warn them they'll have to go before a Code Enforcement magistrate and explain why they haven't" made repairs, Amos said. If all else fails, the agency has the power to levy daily fines until repairs are completed.
"There's a lot minor damage, but then there's some serious damage to roofs and things," Amos said of the Interbay/Bayshore area. Other violations are superficial, like a damaged window or missing barrel tile. "It's still a mess down there," he said.