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On September 28th, 2022, Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on Southwest Florida. This is how we, Roelens Vacations, handled Hurricane Ian, brought peace of mind to our homeowners, and continue to ensure our guests have a safe place to stay.
Pre- Storm Preparation
Once we became aware of the path Hurricane Ian was projected to take, Roelens Vacations wasted no time in doing what we could to secure the 300 homes in our inventory. Located throughout Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Sarasota, and Sanibel Island, our homes needed to be prepared. With this huge and important task ahead of us, our property management team banded together and worked from dawn to dusk to bring in potential projectiles, lanai furniture, and put up as many hurricane shutters as possible. Throughout all of this, our in-office employees were busy contacting our current guests, making sure they were safe, and getting back home okay. Days before the storm were busy and spent doing the most prep work possible.
Immediate Actions After Hurricane Ian Passed
Hurricane Ian impacted many of the areas we have homes, including Cape Coral, Sanibel and Fort Myers. Three of our employees’ houses were so damaged they were completely inhabitable. Despite this, our team hit the ground running. Our own hardships did not get in our way as we started to check the statuses of all our properties. These first few days were spent with our property managers assessing the homes and seeing what restoration would be mandatory. They made notes of what they saw, took photos, and most importantly, did all they could to report this information back to the homeowners. At this moment, our property managers were working without power and internet. Our homes that took limited damage were prepared right away so that they would be available to rent. Immediately, we saw bookings come in for out-of-town work crews who temporarily relocated to Cape Coral to restore it to its former beauty.
While property managers were assessing the damage, our management team used their connections to bring a restoration company to Cape Coral. Univera Construction is a restoration company with a Florida license, located outside of Columbus, Ohio. They graciously agreed to come down and help us. In no time at all, multiple crews with nearly 200 laborers were down in Cape Coral with the sole purpose of restoring Roelens Vacations’ properties. With numerous houses needing repairs, not just Roelens Vacations properties, the wait time to get contractors out to homes was long. Having a restoration company of this magnitude working solely on Roelens properties was huge. Homeowners who would typically have to wait weeks to get their homes taken care of were getting work done right away. Univera Construction has worked quickly, and performed full remediation’s within one day! With their expertise and help, we are confident we will be able to bring all of our homes back to their former beauty. Once restored, these homes will come back to our portfolio and be available to rent again!
What was happening in the Office
While our property managers were busy checking houses, the office employees were stuck with no power and internet. This made the work they could do very limited. Therefore, we made the decision to relocate them up north to areas that were not affected. These employees relocated to Tampa and Sarasota to open temporary offices. This allowed our Guest Service employees to be there for our guests calling with questions and concerns. An abundance of phone calls were coming in right away, and our employees were there for our future guests to calm their worries and move their reservations to future dates. This relocation also made it easier for us to communicate better with our homeowners, so we could keep them as informed as possible. Communication is and always has been a priority for us at Roelens Vacations, and with these temporary offices, we were able to keep it that way.
Despite this difficult time, Roelens Vacations persevered and was able to bring peace of mind to our homeowners thousands of miles away. The prep work the property managers did days before Hurricane Ian hit put our homes in a better position, and allowed us to have homes ready to rent right away. The dedication and hard work our property managers continued to do right after the storm hit was tremendous. Their assessment of damages allowed us to inform our homeowners the condition of their property and make a list of what needed to be done. From there, Univera Construction got right to work on restoring our homes. Relocated out of town, our office employees, were there to answer phone calls and emails. With everyone’s efforts, we were able to get homes with limited damage rented out right away! Everyday, we are getting more and more homes ready to rent. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Ian, and we look forward to the bright future we see for Cape Coral as it continues to be restored.