Aftermath (Part 2): The Harvey Family

“We waited and we didn’t hear anything back from them for months and months.”
The Harveys are some of many Floridians who say what they thought was a beacon of light with Rebuild Florida turned out to be too good to be true.
Updated: Oct. 31, 2023 at 6:07 PM CDT
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MARIANNA, Ala. (WTVY) - The Harveys have lived in Marianna for years. It’s where they chose to lovingly raise their family of four. Then Hurricane Michael changed everything.

Granville Harvey said that the aftermath didn’t set in the day of the storm, but the day after, “when you come and assess and look at your home and look at these people who go back to just nothing.”

Water damage from leaks is what the Harveys say was the main cause for concern. Granville said that there were leaks throughout the home and damage to the ceiling. Leeshanta and Granville Harvey said they felt lucky though, because the structure of the home remained intact.

In an effort to find financial assistance, Leeshanta started searching for programs that could help when a family member told her about Rebuild Florida.

The Harveys say when contractors did the scope on the home, the list of repairs to be made included the drywall, total electrical work, floors, windows, interior doors, and appliances, among other things.

Leeshanta and Granville said they were hopeful as contractors hired by Rebuild Florida started working on their home. But that’s when they say what was meant to be repair work took a turn. The family says they were given the option between gutting the home or leveling it to make way for a model home. They chose the first.

That is until a roadblock stopped the journey. “They actually told my wife through email that we needed to have the hot tub that’s in the rear moved out of the house on our own,” said Granville. That request meant the Harveys had to dismantle the sliding glass door next to the tub and, according to Granville, cut it just enough for the hot tub to go under it and roll out to the yard in the back.

The Harveys thought that solved the problem and that work would continue. “We waited and we didn’t hear anything back from them for months and months and then Leeshanta called to ask why they’re not working, and they said it seems as though the structure has been compromised,” said Granville. The family says that cut in the wall brought the work on their home to a standstill and the home was left gutted. Granville said, “they said they weren’t going to put any more work into the home, that it was exceeding their budget.”

Unfortunately, tragedy struck left and right around the family. “Between the loss of Granville’s mom,” Leeshanta said, “and then we lost a son in a car accident, so it was a whole lot for us both.”

Perseverance saw them through, to repair their home by hand, and out of their own pocket. Granville said he estimates that they’ve spent between $55,000-$60,000 on the home so far.

The Harveys said that the strain went beyond financial, to physical. “I knew I could come in here and do a lot of this work,” said Granville, “but my health wasn’t gonna let me keep going, and would I make it or not?” Leeshanta said her husband has had both a shoulder replacement and a double hip replacement.

But despite that tragedy, stress, and pain, the Harvey’s home has undergone a transformation with all of the work done by Granville, and he’s not finished yet. A few rooms in the home still need repairs, and they’ve decided to wait to move back in until those are finished.

We reached back out to Rebuild Florida for a statement on the Harvey’s case.

They responded that, “in accordance with statewide and municipal building code, the Rebuild Florida program does not do any work on non-permitted additions to homes. In other words, if a homeowner has added rooms or enclosures to their home that did not go through the permitting process, the Rebuild Florida program will not repair or reconstruct them. Homeowners who have these additions may choose not to participate in the program in order to keep those added structures. Once a homeowner chooses to formally withdraw from the program, we can no longer award any funds or do any work on their home.”

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