Topsider Damage Update (12/18/2017 at 10:46 am)
We finally have some information to pass on in regards to the condition of the resort and process moving forward. We understand it has been frustrating, as it has for all of us as well, however in order to have proper insurance claims and understanding of the amount of work needed, it takes time to get the answers because all the required parties are so busy with all of the damage and devastation not only in the Keys, but also the rest of Florida, Texas, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.
We have received 2 engineer reports from the insurance company and our independent contractor. We have also received a scope of work from our contractor. 17 of the 20 villas have critical structural damage causing serious slope issues. The other 3 villas have major damage however the amount of structural repairs are not as severe. The office also has major damage specifically on the poolside wall. The maintenance and housekeeping sheds are not repairable.
Due to the severity of the structures and the type of repairs needed, interior components will also need to be replaced such as kitchens and bathrooms. Also, due to repairs that are required to meet current building codes, additional structural work will need to be accomplished. The prime example are the window replacements. We will now need to install storm grade windows which will require stronger wall support than what currently exists. The current structures walls are not weight bearing and there for will need to be reinforced. The same for the roofs.
Our contractor is working closely with Topsider Homes to provide materials and guidance on the best and most cost effective solutions.
Whats next? We are awaiting the insurance adjusters report and estimate and our contractor will be providing a general estimate within the week. Once we have those items, the contractor will provide a more detailed cost estimate as well as other options, then we will begin the permitting process as well as working with the insurance company to make sure our claim is complete and satisfactory.
Again, we understand this has been frustrating for all, and we all want Topsider back and open for business . The board of directors, Defender Resorts, your staff and our vendors are all working hard to get this done and we all appreciate your patience.
In regards to the 2018 maintenance fees, as owners everyone is required to keep their account current even though the resort is temporarily closed. It is more important now than ever and Topsider will be back better than ever for all of you to enjoy for years to come.
On a separate note, Philip Vernet, current general manager of Topsider has decided to resign from his position effective January 15th. We all thank Philip for his hard work and dedication to Topsider and the owners. We all will miss him and we wish him success on his future endeavors.
Topsider Damage Update (12/14/2017 at 2:48 pm)
We finally received both structural reports. One from the insurance company and the other more detailed report from the engineer contracted through Fowler Construction. Both reports are in agreement that there is significant structural damage that must be fixed before we can do anything else. We will be receiving detailed reports regarding beam replacement and installation for each unit along with some cost factors. Some units have more damage than others but both reports stressed that our lack of maintenance from previous years contributed significantly to the damage from the hurricane.
Fowler Construction is meeting with the manufacturer of Topsider homes. Topsider was originally a kit and therefore it becomes more difficult to replace items. Since this is still a very fluid situation and we don’t have some specifics yet we will continue to receive updates from Fowler to help put in place the scope and timeline of this project.
Topsider Damage Update (12/4/2017 at 4:03 pm)
In order to answer some of the questions and overcome some misinformation I am sharing a summary of my inspection with my fellow owners. I visited Topsider for firsthand observation On September 28, 2017. Initial entry onto the property revealed extensive wind damage to trees and landscaping. There was also evidence of water damage from the storm surge from the Oceanside which was reported to be 6 feet. Seaweed and debris from the surge was seen at all units. The drives and beach had significant damage. Waterlines on the laundry room doors and washers, dryers and hot water heaters were 18 to 24 inches high with water and sand inside the dryers. All units had interior water damage when 120+mph winds forced windows and doors open. Interiors all showed water, sand and seaweed on floors and walls from the wind driven water and debris. Most windows are damaged as a result. The carpeting, bedding and furniture all show signs of mold and mildew as power was off with no HVAC for many days. The building structures show signs of significant movement and floors are warped and sagging. Entry doors, windows and interior doors and cabinet doors are racked as a result of this movement and many will not open or stay closed. Most roofs have damage to shingles and the office roof was severely damaged. The office window blew out. A large tree fell on unit 11 doing significant damage to the roof and structure. The boardwalk, stairs, decks and railings all show signs of wind damage and also staining and paint damage from the wind, water and debris. The tennis court is covered with sand and the finish is damaged from debris. The fence around the court is severely damaged. We have removed trees and debris to allow access for inspection and repairs. Wet and mold ridden carpet, bedding and furniture has been removed. A structural inspection was performed by the insurance company and we are awaiting the report. We have contacted our insurance carriers and are working with them as we progress toward recovery. Approval has been given to remove damaged appliances, carpet and furniture as this part of the mitigation effort. We are fortunate to have retained Fowler Construction from Fort Myers to act as our Construction manager and General Contractor. We are working with them in three phases, one is assessment of damages and scope of repairs, two is engineering, permitting and project planning and three is construction. As you can see this is an extensive project and will take time. Phase one is nearly complete and we will be able to give you more information soon. I can assure you we are sharing information as we learn but due to the extent of damage here in Florida we are all waiting on insurance and contractors. My roofer just told me they will not be able to repair my house before February. Chet Simmons
Topsider Damage Update (12/1/2017 at 9:35 am)
I wish I had lots of information to share with you today but unfortunately like all the projects in Florida and the Keys it’s taking time. Our location in Islamorada has made us more vulnerable to wind and storm surge than other areas and we are not alone- Matecumbe Resort, Caloosa Cove, Postcard Inn, Cheeca Lodge and Amara Cay are just a few that are all still closed due to severe damage sustained in the hurricane.
There is a lot of misinformation out there on Facebook. I’m not sure where it’s coming from but most of it’s wrong. Everything the board knows you know too. The President’s Letter that was posted on Facebook and mailed is the most updated information we have at this time. We are not hiding anything or keeping any information from you. I want to assure all the owners that this project is moving along. The damage is significant and it’s going to take time and a lot more than going in with a hammer and some nails. There is significant damage and there are Federal regulations and building codes that we must adhered to.
Our construction company, Fowler Construction, has been at the resort with engineers and other professionals to inspect the buildings and grounds. They are finishing up Phase One which is the Initial Planning and Pre-Construction Phase. It includes assessment of the buildings and site for needed structural replacements and repairs including an assessment of the interior renovations. Evaluation of framing, timbers and hardware such as wiring and plumbing and HVAC. Assessment of the projects conformity to FEMA regulations, building elevations and the compliance of FEMA’s 50% rule will all be taken into consideration. A structural engineer was on site doing detailed measurements and evaluation of the current condition of each building along with the on-site pre-permit application with the Village of Islamorada’s Building Director. An assessment of the scope and cost probability will be done. A written report for Phase One will be submitted for planning. This phase is almost complete and we will have more information for everyone after we meet.
As soon as we meet and discuss the reports we will update you. I know you still have questions but there are no answers until we determine the scope and cost. Please know the Board is working diligently on your behalf to get Topsider back on its feet.
Topsider Damage Update (11/28/2017 at 12:15 pm)
Closing Update from the Topsider Board,
We are working diligently with our insurance and construction companies. Phase one of construction will be finished shortly and at that time we will post a more comprehensive update. The information we have at this moment indicates Topsider will be closed through at least April 2018.
As more information becomes available you will be updated.
Topsider Damage Update (10/12/2017 at 4:29 pm)
Even though the pool has a leak it looks wonderful to see it looking a bit more like the old Topsider. This is a picture of the pool post inspection. We have the results of the leak test and are getting a proposal for the repairs. The structural engineer was at the resort for two days this week and will be submitting his report to the insurance company. Once this is submitted it should give us a good idea of the scope and cost of the renovation project.
We are in the process of contacting general contractors for bids. One company has already been on site to get an idea of the project scope and we are currently waiting on responses from the other construction companies we have contacted.
Manny and Yandi are still cleaning up debris around the resort. The hot water heaters have all been removed and that was the last of the items to be placed out for collection.
Our job now is to work with the insurance company and the contractors to replace or repair the damage done by hurricane Irma.
Topsider Damage Update (9/29/2017 at 7:53 am)
Over the past few weeks, as we continued clean up of the property and met with insurance adjusters and contractors it became clear that the storm damage was greater than originally surveyed. After much discussion between the board of directors and Defender Resorts, we have come to the conclusion in order to ensure the safety of guests and provide the quality vacation expected at Topsider, we will not be able to re-open the resort until 2018.
We are scheduled to meet with an insurance appointed engineer to assess the severity of structural damage to the villas. After over a week without electricity, as the interiors continued to dry out, it was clear that most of the villas sustained water damage as well as some of the furniture. It also became evident that a 1-2 foot storm surge flooded the property damaging the washers, dryers and water heaters. The front office building sustained major damage. There is an obvious leak within the pool and possible damage to the pumps and heaters. There is still no phone, cable or internet on the property and cell phone coverage is spotty.
We have already had contractors on property to perform the removal of dead trees and debris, carpets have been removed, damaged appliances are being removed as well. We are continuing to receive proposals for the various project that will be needed on the property and we are communicating regularly with our insurance company.
Although we are all saddened that we are not able to immediately provide the memorable vacation experience you are accustomed to, the task is not beyond being accomplished. The board of directors and Defender Resorts are committed and focused on bringing Topsider back as quickly as possible and better than ever.
As we receive more information we will continue to update everyone as to our progress and expectation of completion.
In just a week, much progress has been made in recovering our resort.
As of Monday, Sept 18th:
The pool deck has been cleared of debris, however there is significant damage to the pool deck- the pool is showing signs of a major leak, and will be checked once power is restored and it can be fully drained
The large tree that blocked buildings 11-20 has been cleared, there are still downed phone and cable lines also, electric lines have been compromised and the power company has been notified
The board walk has been cleared of debris
Staff continues to clean up landscape debris, however we will need a professional for the larger items. We are contacting local companies
All broken windows and doors have been boarded up
Insurance claims have been filed and the adjuster for Property Insurance has surveyed the property and buildings
Philip and the team continue to work, cleaning the resort without electricity or running water however there are just some tasks that cannot be continued without electricity or water.
Recently, some owners have expressed the desire to come to the resort to help with the clean up. Although this is appreciated, we cannot allow any non-personnel on the property. First off, law enforcement are not allowing non residents to arrive to the Keys. And the reality is that it may be weeks before they do.
Also,having non personnel on the property is a health and insurance hazard. Without electricity or running water, the high heat and the amount of debris and damage it is a danger to anyone. Philip and the resort team, Defender Resorts and the board are working hard to get the resort back into shape, however due the vast destruction in the area, its not just about how quickly we can get Topsider Resort back up and running, but rather the time it will take to recover all of south Florida and restore life essential utilities and functions.
Topsider Hurricane Irma Update (9/15/2017 at 1:40 pm)
Monroe County Emergency Management has set up a website to post updates about the recovery process in the Keys. You can view it at http://www.keysrecovery.org.
Many employees have been personally affected by Hurricane Irma, so Defender Resorts has set up a Go Fund Me campaign to raise funds to assist employees who have been affected, such as Topsider Resort. If you want to get more information or donate you can view the campaign here.
There is a telling quote on keysnews.com today from an Islamorada Councilman (and owner of Mangrove Mike’s Restaurant) on the local conditions:
“Village Councilman Mike Forster, who weathered the hurricane from a small motel room next to his restaurant on Upper Matecumbe Key, said he’s hopeful his town will be back up-and-running at 100 percent by December or January.” His time frame, months not weeks, provides an idea of the reality of the situation in the area of the Topsider.
Also, yesterday, the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by the Monroe County Sheriff’s department was extended indefinitely.
As of this morning, the authorities are still reporting the Keys are closed south of MM73 and only residents and business owners can gain entry into the Upper Keys.
MESSAGE from the Board of Directors PRESIDENT:
The property is secured and we are working very hard to begin our recovery.
Please be aware that no visitor or owner will be allowed on the property due to the hazardous conditions caused by debris and damage to the resort. Any person not authorized to be on the property will be considered trespassing.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding at this time and we will update you as we continue to move forward.
Topsider Hurricane Irma Update (9/13/2017 at 3:40 pm)
NOAA has created a site that provides overhead Hurricane IRMA Imagery. It can be found at https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/irma/index.html.
On the landing page, click on the search icon on the left and enter an address. (Topsider Resort is 75500 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada). Some businesses are listed (not TS). Use the zoom-in icon to zoom tighter on your destination selection.
The resort damage assessment has started today and will continue for the foreseeable future. Philip, Manny and the maintenance crew are on site starting cleanup and doing the assessment.
We are also still without electricity, water and internet service.
Topsider Resort has been evacuated and secured. We will remain closed until Irma passes and our staff is able to assess any damages that may be done by the storm.
Throughout this time we will continue to post updates here and on our Facebook page as we receive any news.
Thank you to everyone who has sent thoughts, prayers and kind words.
Updated September 7th at 6:30 pm
HURRICANE DAMAGE UPDATE (9/11/2017 at 9:51 am)
The Florida Keys were hit hard by Hurricane Irma, including Topsider Resort. Currently the Keys remain under a travel curfew and are impassible to the mainland.
As soon as our team is authorized to travel to the property we will begin our assessment of the damages and post updates as we receive them.