May 31, 2004
Board of Directors
Sapphire Bay Condominiums West
6345 Smith Bay
St. Thomas, VI 00802
BY CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
Re: Hurricane Protection – The Shutters You Required SBCW Owners to Buy Won’t Protect from Hurricanes
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Within the last six months, the Board of Directors required all SBCW owners, who didn’t already have them, to buy hurricane shutters and have the Condo Association install them. The shutters have arrived at the property, and a contractor is in the process of installing them. The problem is that the shutters are being installed on the inside of the windows, and not on all windows, and they won’t help in a hurricane.
I contacted one of the owners of the company that manufactured the shutters purchased by SBCW, "Hermex Southeast" in Miami, FL. The owner of Hermex Southeast said, "What, you are putting the shutters on the inside? We never heard of that – that won’t protect from a hurricane". I asked Warren Murphy, the owner of the local St Thomas company installing the shutters at SBCW, why he was installing the shutters on the inside of the windows. He said to me: "I told them a number of times that the shutters wouldn’t help, if they were installed on the inside. I was told to install the shutters on the inside anyway." (Contractor Shutter Supply, 340-776-6654)
We contacted Frank Storms, president of International Hurricane Protection Association (www.inthpa.com) and he confirmed that shutters must be on the outside of the windows to provide protection. In addition he said, what others had told me, that all the windows in a building must be protected to protect the building. One unprotected window will allow the hurricane (or tornado) to destroy the building. (At SBCW, the shutters are on the inside of the windows in front. The windows in the back of the apartments have no shutters). Mr. Storms volunteered that Dade County insurance carriers will not insure a building for hurricane protection unless all the windows in the building have shutter protection conforming to the "Code" on the outside of all windows. Contact: Miami Dade Code Compliance, 305-375-2901.
At SBCW, it is very important that hurricane protection be professionally designed by a recognized engineering firm experienced in the design of hurricane protection systems. I believe that the open porches and the jalousie windows provide challenging engineering problems. What seems to have happened here is that you knew, or at least Frank Barry knew, that the protection being installed would not protect the buildings, and did it anyway.
Work should be stopped on the installation of the shutters on the inside of the windows. The installation is unsightly and costly, and won’t do any good. And the owners have been given a false sense of security.
The problem here is three-fold. 1) The owners were misled by Frank Barry and the Board of SBCW. We were made to believe that the shutters on the inside of the front windows would provide protection, when the Board and Frank Barry knew they would not. 2) Over $50,000 was wasted by the owners. 3) It is probably too late to design and procure/install meaningful protection for the 2004 Hurricane season.
I trust you will check into this matter further and contact me and the other owners.
Very truly yours,
George R. Simpson, Owner C-4