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Dorian’s Gone – Is it OK to Leave Hurricane Shutters Up?

It’s hurricane season and some homeowners who put up hurricane shutters want to leave them there “just in case.” But that’s not always wise – or legal.  

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – After getting a scare from a storm such as Hurricane Dorian, people who had to put up shutters on their homes have a dilemma: When should I take them down?

Many people know that peak hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30, and some folks watch storm maps (and that current disturbance forming off the coast of Africa) religiously, so is the hassle of taking shutters down (and maybe putting them back up again) worth it?

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue warns people to take their shutters down as soon as possible after a storm passes. “It’s important to remove shutters and wood covering your doors/windows.”

They say if you can’t remove all of the shutters, at least remove them from one window in each room. “Always have 2 ways out in case of an emergency. Don’t get trapped!,” they said in a tweet.

Individual municipalities and homeowners associations can have specific rules for when you should remove shutters to avoid fines, so you should check with your town or HOA.

As an example, in Wellington, code requires residents to remove hurricane shutters from windows within 72 hours of “a storm event.” When a homeowner is absent – that includes residents who may be seasonal – shutters can be up for two 15-day periods during hurricane season.

After Hurricane Irma hit the area two years ago, some people kept shutters up for months after the storm, forcing code enforcement crews to issue citations.

In West Palm Beach, permitted shutters can remain up indefinitely per city code, but unpermitted shutters or plywood need to be taken down unless there is a watch or warning in effect. In 2007, the West Palm Beach Commission voted to mandate shutters be taken down within three days of a storm. It later repealed the ordinance after social agencies raised concern about forcing seniors to take such quick action.

HOAs likely will send warning notices to residents about shutters and when they should be taken down.

© 2019 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.), John Bisognano, Kristina Webb. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.