Hurricane Irma’s Impact on Signs in the Tampa Bay Area

Hurricane Irma left many businesses without a sign and many, many more with costly damage.
Back in 2000 before many of the Big Name hurricanes blew through, the sign code stipulated that you had to have enough cement in the ground for your sign to withstand 100mph wind gusts. Since then, one municipality after another has raised the standard to 145mph. The old signs that are still up from before these changes are considered “Legal but non-conforming.” This means that as long as the sign is not altered in any way, it can remain. When a storm like Irma comes through, these signs get tested. If they get tweaked or blown to even a 10% angle, they are considered “compromised” and must be replaced with a new sign that meets current code. In many cases, a municipality may have drastically changed their sign code from allowing 40’ tall pole signs to 4’ tall monument signs. As you can imagine, the folks with old 40’ tall signs want to hang on to their old gems as long as possible. When these storms come through, people say, “You must love hurricanes! Great for business.” In reality, our hearts go out to these folks. We are pretty steady here at The International Sign Company. These hurricanes actually clog the otherwise smooth running machine. Replacement faces get backlogged for months. The techs, on four out of five of our service trucks, turn into garbage men, picking up fallen signs and puzzle pieces from sign faces blown all about. We load up one truck after another and bring the pieces parts back here to disassemble and dispose of. I, for one, will be glad when hurricane season is over.

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