Tom & Carol AFTER 2

Hurricane Ian Wasn’t Their First Rodeo

Before After

People relocate to Southwest Florida for many reasons and envision living the good life among the sunshine, waves, and palms. But life can sure throw some curve balls. Here’s the thing. Hurricanes have been around for a very long time. When “Michiganders,” Tom and Carol, moved to North Port in 2004, they not only had the misfortune of dealing with Hurricane Charley, but also with hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne! Talk about a charming way of being welcomed to Florida!!! That year the “Sunshine State” was officially dubbed the “Plywood State” by the media after it was battered by four hurricanes in only six weeks during the hurricane season. Nearly every square inch of Florida felt the impacts from at least one of those four storms.

But three years later, after Hurricane Wilma made landfall in in 2007, the impact of repeated hurricanes had taken a toll on the homeowners. Enough was enough. So, Tom and Carol sold their Florida residence and returned full-time to the mitten-state.

Sure, snow is pretty to look at. But when it comes to dealing with it all winter, Michigan is a miserable, miserable time for many. For some Michiganders they know that their winter months can be brutal. Here’s the other thing. Michigan has been ranked the second worst state in the country, right behind Minnesota. For those who live in the Great Lakes state, many share a special bond when it comes to the parts of winter that they cannot stand: 1. Winter in the frozen plains of Michigan begins well before Thanksgiving and stretches far past Easter, which makes for four-to-six wearisome months of always-gray, always-cold, always-drizzly, but-rarely-snowy-in-a-good-way misery. 2. Michigan winters are unrivaled for their utter lack of sunshine. The ceaseless cloud cover begins in October, and envelopes the state in a daily sense of gloom. 3. Michiganders have to get ready to leave home at least 15 minutes early because they need to make sure they have time to scrape the 2-inches of ice off of their car. 4. When it’s already 10 degrees out but the wind chill says it is -20, Michiganders’ hearts sink a little bit. 5. For some reason no one remembers how to drive as soon as the first snowflake falls from the sky. 6. One day the temperature is around 40 degrees and they have hope for the rest of winter, but the next day it is back down to 15 degrees and a blizzard. 7. Chances of falling increase heavily when everything is covered in ice. 8. And lastly, you have to wear two sweatshirts and three pairs of socks to stay warm.

So, by the time year 2012 came around, and sick and tired of Michigan’s unrelenting winters, Tom and Carol hatched a new plan. They decided to keep their northern home, but invest in an affordable snowbird retreat. Because the economy was still reeling from the credit default swap debacle of 2007, they were able to purchase an older manufactured home. Did the 20-year-old home need work? Lord, yes. It was a massive do-er up-er, but that didn’t hinder Tom, nor Carol. Nosiree. They planned to make this home their winter getaway. They were up to the challenge and looked forward to having something to do whenever they escaped the harsh Michigan winters.

Before After
Before After

Over the next ten years, Tom and Carol made this kind-of-hard-not-to-fallback-on-the-stereotype into a prettier-than-most prefabricated home. The couple took the cramped rooms, cathedral ceilings, dated paneling, out-of-date threadbare carpet, a less-than-ideal outdoor space, and created it into a head-turning home.

One of the first things they did to remodel their sunny abode of two bedrooms and two bathrooms was remove the vintage sculptured lime green carpet. The sculptured and textured carpets gave the home a passé look. Tom and Carol replaced the carpet with wood-look planks throughout. In 2015, they remodeled the kitchen. In 2016 the homeowners decided to glass-enclose their screened-in porch. This created a year-round addition to their manufactured home. This was an excellent way to offset its mobile home look. When people see a front porch, they immediately associate that with a more permanent, traditional residence. It became an all-seasons room, available for them to enjoy throughout the hottest and coldest days of the year.

Before After

The homeowner’s found total bliss in remodeling their winter getaway and they did a spectacular job! Whenever I visited their beautiful home, the interior immediately grabbed my attention. The rooms always looked like something ready for a Pottery Barn photoshoot. Everything was perfectly in its place. Each renovation began with an idea that sparked the imagination and carried its own special excitement. This spark propelled the homeowners into a search and compilation of ideas and materials to bring their creativity into reality. Yes, it took years to complete. Big changes don’t always happen in a day. Tom and Carol took on one small remodeling project at a time, here and there.

And then…

Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., made landfall on Florida’s Gulf coast on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Hurricane Ian tarnished Florida with devastating 155 mph winds at its peak. Hurricane Ian was among one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history. Ian littered debris and wreaking havoc throughout Tom and Carol’s friendly retiree mobile home community.   

Thankfully, Tom and Carol were in Michigan when this deadly storm occurred. However, they paced their floors back and forth as they anxiously watched televised news. It was an emotional roller coaster day for them as they worried about their little Florida getaway. Without Florida residents having power, internet connections, and spotty cellphone service, Tom and Carol had no way of contacting their neighbors right away. The waiting was agonizing. Finally, after a very long wait, a neighbor, with only intermittent internet service, was able to email them photos of their well-loved home. They were pictures of devastation.

When Tom and Carol were finally able to return to Florida they were stunned to see their neighborhood. Tom said, “It looks like a bomb went off everywhere.” They were devastated to see all the destruction in their community. Their carport was now twisted like a big metal pretzel and resting on the shed which was attached to their home. The roof was damaged and there was a window broken on the side of the home. The busted window caused the dining room to flood, which caused the wood-look floors to buckle. Speaking of bombs, did you know that when a roll of toilet paper gets wet, it expands and explodes and then glues itself permanently to the wall? That’s exactly what happened. Carol spent two hours trying to unglue toilet paper from high-gloss painted walls and off the flooring.

Although the hurricane was over, the effects of Ian still flooded Tom and Carol’s hearts. After cleaning up what they could, they decided to put their home on the market. It’ll be offered “As-Is.” It wasn’t an easy decision. They loved their Florida home, but in the back of their minds they wondered how long before the next big hurricane would hit or how long they’d have to live without a proper roof, shed, or carport. After all, they knew too many others needed similar repairs. For Tom and Carol, Hurricane Ian wasn’t their first rodeo with nasty storms.

As you can see in the photo, an owner of a mobile home damaged in Pine Island, Florida, put a sign next to her home. So, Tom and Carol aren’t the only ones to share this sentiment.

Before After

At the time of writing this blog, Tom and Carol have returned to their native Michigan home where winter is in full swing with winter snow and freezing temperatures whereas countless Florida communities are still cleaning up from Hurricane Ian. My advice to Tom and Carol: Try to stay warm and don’t go outside if you don’t have to.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year celebration, whether it be in snowy weather or on sandy beaches. Savor where you are and who you’re with. May 2023 be filled with new adventures and good fortunes.

Michele

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