By Jan Bergemann

Published September 15, 2017


I guess we all “survived” IRMA and – hopefully – we all, including our government, learned from this frightening experience.


Not only history should teach us lessons – trying to avoid mistakes of the past – so should disasters. Hurricanes are part of our life-style here in Florida. It’s not a matter of “if” it hits us, it’s a matter of “when.”

With other words: We should be prepared.


Here are some lessons we should have learned from dealing with IRMA:

  1. The forecasts of the path a hurricane takes are still not reliable. Don’t evacuate before you really know where the hurricane will do most damage. I know quite a few folks who evacuated to Tampa after we were told that the hurricane would move up the East Coast of Florida. Guess what: They got in the middle of the worst devastating path of Irma. Lesson 1: Only evacuate to areas that will definitely be out of the path of the hurricane.

  2. Our esteemed legislators created laws – after Wilma – forcing gas stations to install expensive generators to make sure the pumps would work after the hurricane hit. Guess what: The pumps were working, but how good are pumps doing if there is no gas to pump? The gas prices went up as soon as we knew that Florida would be hit by Irma – until the stations ran out of gas very quickly. No new gas was delivered to the stations – days before the hurricane actually arrived. And after IRMA? It took many days before more gas was delivered to the gas stations. Families trying to evacuate as advised were running out of gas on their trip up North – and were stranded in the disaster area. I lived in California, where earthquakes occur without a warning. Here in Florida we get hurricanes with warnings days ahead – before the disaster strikes. Why is our gas supply not prepared? The folks in charge know full well that the need for gas multiplies as soon as the hurricane warnings are made public. Is it a matter of profits? Short supply, higher prices?

  3. When will we learn that mobile homes and match-box houses will not survive the easiest of storms? These kinds of homes should not be approved by Florida’s building codes. It’s just a matter of time before they will be destroyed. Then they are being rebuilt – with insurance money – and our insurance premiums go up and up and up! Is that supposed to help our economy and create jobs?

  4. And last not least: POWER OUTAGES! I was lucky here in Deland: Our power was only out for about 20 hours, mostly during day-time. But other areas are still today without power. How ridiculous is that? Honestly, I have lived in many different countries during my life-time. And about every country experiences some sort of natural disaster – they are just named differently. But Florida is the only place I know where you are well advised to have a generator. As soon as the weather folks in the news announce that a hurricane is on its way you know that there will be some power outage. It’s just a safe bet. The only question: How long will we be out of power? Let’s face it: The over-land power-lines are just an open invitation for winds and trees to hit. When the wind starts you sit in your home and ask: When will the power go out? Putting power-lines underground should be a priority for a state that gets regularly hit by hurricanes. But as we can see folks are not too happy if a city decides to put the power lines underground. They sue the city about the cost. See the latest example: Boca Raton! Just ridiculous!

My opinion: Living in Florida comes with a price tag. It cost us lots of money to be prepared for the natural disaster called “HURRICANE.” Our homes should be built accordingly, able to withstand strong hurricane winds. Our power-grid should be prepared to withstand flying branches, falling trees and heavy rains by not having antiquated overland power-lines. Friends visiting from Germany always ask: What are these cables hanging from the telegraph poles? That’s just unknown in most of Europe.



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Jan Bergemann Jan Bergemann is president of Cyber Citizens For Justice, Florida 's largest state-wide property owners' advocacy group. CCFJ works on legislation to help owners living in community  

associations. He moved to Florida in 1995 - hoping to retire. He moved into a HOA, where the developer cheated the homeowners and used the association dues for his own purposes. End of retirement!


CCFJ was born in the year 2000, when some owners met in Tallahassee - finding out that power is only in numbers. Bergemann was a member of Governor Jeb Bush's HOA Task force in 2003/2004.


The organization has two websites to inform interested Florida homeowners and condo owners:

News Website: http://www.ccfj.net/.

Educational Website: http://www.ccfjfoundation.net/.

We think that only owners can really represent owners, since all service providers surely have a different interest! We are trying to create owner-friendly laws, but the best laws are useless without enforcement. And enforcement is totally lacking in Florida !

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