Bay County Code Enforcement closes 56% of Hurricane Michael related cases

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)–It’s been two years since Hurricane Michael and Bay County Code Enforcement continues to open and close cases related to the storm. While the department was closed between October and April of 2019, their caseload rapidly increased.

Before Hurricane Michael, Bay County Code Enforcement would average about 2,000 cases over 12 months.

“Obviously with just 1,700 Hurricane Michael cases, we superseded that number within a month,” said Kathi Ashman, Bay County’s Code Enforcement Manager.

Code Enforcement delayed issuing notices until October of 2019. Since then, they’ve closed 56% of their cases.

“My staff before the hurricane averaged about 50 cases on a caseload and now there’s 100 to 300,” said Ashman.

In January of 2020, Code Enforcement began its first hearings for Hurricane Michael properties. Then, the pandemic arrived, putting a halt to an already long-awaited process.

“March and April we had to cancel hearings which put us behind,” said Ashman.

Ashman says the delay didn’t just put them back 2 months, but 4.

“It’s frustrating that it has been two years but we have legal steps that we have to take, we can’t just go on someone’s property and tear it down,” said Ashman.

As for the Private Property Debris Removal Program, the county has 300 debris cases left and 100 demolitions. Ashman says the county hopes to close the rest of their storm-related cases within the next year.

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