Coastal Marina Hit by Hurricane Michael

11 October 2022

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall near Panama City, Florida as a dangerous Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph. The storm severely impacted the coastal areas around Panama City and the southeast coast. Direct damage from the storm was estimated at $25.5B, plus the consequential economic losses to the surrounding area.

Painting the Picture Before Hurricane Michael

The marina, approximately 30 years old at the time of the hurricane, is in St. Andrews Bay, Panama City. The marina can accommodate approximately 100 boats, mostly larger ocean-going craft. The marina consists of a main head pier, six sub docks, and one fuel dock.

The head pier, sub docks, and fuel docks are supported by 14-foot timber piles driven into the bay floor. The framing is constructed of 4”x12” and 4”x10” timber joists used for inboard and outboard stringers, X-bracing, and lateral supports for the 2”x8” decking. All the framing is bolted with stainless steel hardware.

The total square footage of the head pier, docks, and fuel dock is approximately 16,500 square feet. The bayside docks are also equipped with wooden wave attenuators. Each boat slip is also equipped with water and electrical service. There are also 13 slips equipped with boat lifts and canopies.

Attached to the marina is a two-story over-water bar and grill that is built on a dock structure. The restaurant has a wrap-around deck, a metal canopy, and an outdoor bar and entertainment area. The restaurant is constructed over a 7,500-square-foot dock structure, like the marina docks. The buildings are then constructed on top of the deck structure. The full-service restaurant consists of a kitchen, dining areas, a large function area, a bar, and an outside entertainment area. The structure is wood framed with a plywood subfloor, in some cases applied over dock boards. The exteriors are mostly vinyl siding and trim. The roofs are flat with modified bitumen or membrane roofing materials. Interior finishes are mostly glued-down carpet and ceramic tile. Walls are mostly painted drywall or panelling. There are three large canvas or metal-covered awnings.

In addition to the marina and restaurant, there is also an office suite and retail area constructed on land and accessed by the boardwalk. The boardwalk serves as access to the restaurant and marina. This building is approximately 4,100 square feet and consists of the ship’s store, harbour master’s office, rental suites, laundry, restaurant office, and support and storage areas. This building is also wood framed with drywall walls, ACT ceilings, membrane roofs, and vinyl siding.

The Initial Hurricane Damage Assessment

In October 2018, the entire marina suffered significant damage from high winds, storm surge, wave action, wind-borne debris, and rain. A third-party engineering assessment determined that the only structures that sustained substantial structural damage were the 13 boat canopies, the open porch roof structures of the restaurant, and the metal and canvas-covered awnings and canopies between the buildings. The report determined that the remainder of the sustained damage could be replaced or repaired.

High winds and wind-borne debris caused significant damage to all building envelopes including roofing and siding. Glass windows allowed for water to infiltrate the structures necessitating the removal and replacement of most of the interior finishes.

Storm surge and accompanying wind-driven waves, as well as floating debris impacts extensively damaged dock boards, dock stringers, dock caps, dock pile cross-bracing, and the wave attenuator warranting complete removal and replacement of the same using methods and materials like original construction. It was determined via resistance testing that approximately 25% of the timber piles would need to be replaced.

There was also damage to the restaurant floor, subfloor dock decking, walls, and drywall, warranting reconstruction and repair. Static flooding in the ship store buildings also required typical flood damage repairs to walls and floors.

Hurricane Michael 1

Envista’s Building Consulting Analysis

Envista’s Building Consulting team was engaged to provide building construction services for a large marina loss located at St. Andrews Bay in Panama City. The scope of services included documentation of the size and layout of the marina, determination of the scope of damages, and preparation of an estimate to repair and rebuild the marina.

Relying on Xactimate and researching unit pricing, Envista produced an estimate for the repairs of the marina and associated buildings. As is common with pricing smaller inland lake marinas that are usually floating, square foot pricing can usually be relied on to confirm unit pricing once the type of construction is verified. Historical costing is the best way to do this. Inland docks can be constructed near the marina or somewhere on the water body and floated to the site.

This is not necessarily true for larger coastal marinas where construction costs can vary widely and the type of construction differs. In this case, Envista did not rely on square-foot or historical pricing. Instead, materials were quantified and labour hours were applied since a lot of the construction was not typical of what Xactimate provided.

One unique aspect of coastal marinas is the equipment necessary to complete the work, such as crane barges, piling barges, supply barges, and tender boats. The labour rates for marine over-water work must also be considered.

In the final analysis, Envista was not able to reach a conclusion by agreeing with a contractor’s scope and pricing. Although Envista was able to complete an estimate for total repairs of over $3M, we were informed that the insured was significantly underinsured. The policy limit was paid and the matter was concluded.

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