Lee BIA Builders Care pushes to repair hurricane-damaged roofs, install A/C systems as summer approaches

Every afternoon, when unbearable heat and drenching rainstorms curtail our outdoor activities, many of us retreat indoors to take cover and relax in the comfort of our air-conditioned homes.

Not everyone in Southwest Florida has that luxury.

Hurricane Irma damaged the roofs of many elderly, disabled and economically disadvantaged residents, and they do not have adequate funds to repair or replace leaky roofs. Other residents cannot afford to install or repair air conditioning units, forcing them to endure temperatures that rise far beyond uncomfortable levels.

For many of us, Irma is just a memory. Bruce and Patricia, however, have been living with a visual reminder of Irma’s fury. Their North Fort Myers home still has a tarp over its roof, a temporary fix that has turned into a permanent feature. Bruce, an Army veteran who served during the Vietnam War, spends his days caring for Patricia, who suffers from Lupus and severe rheumatoid arthritis. A new rolled-style roof simply isn’t in the budget.

Barbara of Fort Myers can peek into the attic through holes in her ceiling. Barbara, a widow whose husband was a veteran, lives alone and suffers from macular degeneration. Her only source of income is social security, and while that is enough to cover basic expenses of daily life, the high cost of replacing a shingle roof is out of the question.

Unfortunately, situations like theirs are all too common. Hurricane Irma disproportionately impacted our community’s most vulnerable residents. Lee BIA Builders Care, the charitable arm of the Lee Building Industry Association, has long provided home repairs and construction services to residents who otherwise cannot fix their homes or would be living in substandard conditions.

Lee BIA Builders Care relies on the donated services, labor and products from those in the construction industry to carry out its mission. This year, however, the organization is receiving more requests for assistance than it can accommodate. More than two dozen elderly and disabled homeowners are awaiting roof repairs and A/C installations.

Immediately after Hurricane Irma, it was so encouraging to see our community come together as one. Neighbors and co-workers helped trim trees and remove debris, churches and organizations distributed bottled water and food, and youth groups collected emergency supplies and money for victims of the storm.

While the community as a whole is back on its feet, residents like Bruce, Patricia and Barbara have patiently waited for assistance. The time to help them is now. Lee BIA Builders Care needs additional community members and business partners to step forward so no member of this community, especially a senior, has to live in substandard conditions. Visit LeeBuildersCare.org or call 239-938-0056 for more information.