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Ian Wrecked a Mobile Home Park

Before After

Halloween may be over, but there are still plenty of scares to be had in Southwest, Florida. Unquestionably Hurricane Ian dealt Southwest Florida a severe blow. Hurricane Ian became the fifth-strongest hurricane on record to hit the US. And it was the biggest, most heartbreaking storm I’ve ever seen. So grab a cup of leftover witch’s brew, sit back, relax, and join me for today’s blog.

On February 2, 2022 I posted a blog, Modern and Chic, about my customer-turned-friend who is also a talented kitchen and bath designer. She lives year-round in the state of Wisconsin, where the climate is characterized by long, cold winters and warm, relatively short summers. My story today, AGAIN, takes us back to the beautiful manufactured home Bev inherited from her late mother. The snowbird home is located in Emerald Lake located in beautiful Punta Gorda. Emerald Lake was the type of close-knit community where people frequently checked in on each other. And according to residents, it was a delightful place to live.

As soon as Southwest Florida’s airports reopened, Bev returned to assess the damage from the hurricane. Bev invited me to her home. On the drive over I saw crews fixing power lines and surveying damage. Police directed the traffic as best as they could, because there was no power in many areas. In other parts power line poles and stoplights hung over the roads. Some looked so treacherous it felt as if they could topple over at any moment. It took me three times longer to drive just a few miles down the road.

I slowed my car to a crawl when I entered my friend’s neighborhood. Here, the already narrow streets immediately narrowed even more, as debris littered the roads, spilling over from the lawns. Everywhere along the road, there was tree debris, sofas, mattresses, personal belongings, and clothing. Visibly, nearly every structure suffered from the wrath of Ian, and there are approximately 250 or so homes in this community. A few of the homes looked untouched with perhaps only some minor flooding and wind damages. Other homes were blown to smithereens.

Devastating? Dear Lord, yes.

The view was grim. The mood was sad. It created a despair in my chest I’ve never quite felt before.

I didn’t realize how tough it was going to be to drive through and see the aftermath of Ian. It was heartbreaking to see this beautiful neighborhood transformed into what looked like a war zone. In fact, it looked like King Kong took a massive weed whacker to my friend’s neighborhood. Roofing, siding, skirting, and porches were ripped off and thrown about. Metal walls and carports were bent so severely by the fury of the storm and then flung about in a frightful mess. Some of these homes are no longer recognizable as human dwellings. The monstrous-but-fickle storm decapitated some homes, bashed out windows, and downed trees with 150 mile-an-hour winds ripping through. Some homes were so trashed it made me wonder if some people have any hope, at all of returning.

Taking photographs of what I was seeing brought tears to my eyes. Some of these were homes to retirees on fixed incomes, and low-wage earners who cannot afford to live anyplace else in a booming real estate market like Florida’s. Folks from up north are streaming into the “Sunshine State” to enjoy the mild summers, year-round sunshine, and sugar-sand beaches. 

When I pulled up to my friend’s home that had been wreaked by havoc by this storm, I shed tears because, thankfully we were both alive. The first visual signs of loss inside Bev’s home were the bathroom skylights. A skylight is a window set in a ceiling at the same angle. This allows for an incredible inflow of direct light. A skylight has the potential to completely change the aesthetics and atmosphere of a home. Because of Florida’s sunny climate, both of the skylights filtered bright sunlight into Bev’s two bathrooms. The exposed skylights presented exposed entry points for water from heavy downpours for 8 plus hours. The bathroom cabinetry and countertops which she purchased from Just Counters & other stuff, Inc., however, was miraculously unharmed!

But due to Ian’s double whammy — powerful storm surge and sustained high winds— it destroyed the roof coverings to Bev’s home. The homeowner had to hire a professional remediation team to address the signs of water damage to the drywall, ceilings, and flooring. After the pros removed damp drywall, they discovered suspicious mold and rotting on the underside of roof sheathing. As of this writing, Bev is waiting for results of mold testing.

“I’m very thankful that what I had happen is very minor compared to most,” said Bev. “I am grateful for the neighbors, who are all working to support each other. Although some of these residents lost literally everything, you could see just how tight-knit this community is. It’s been surreal.”

Repairing a home after a catastrophe is lengthy, tiring and an expensive process. But with Bev’s talent, her home will eventually be beautiful, once again.

Despite the absolute devastation, these residents still expressed being proud of living in southwest Florida. You can feel the desire to recover and rebuild from this disaster. Every day, progress is being made but it’s going to take a while before Emerald Lake resembles what it was like before Hurricane Ian. My prayers continue to be with all Floridians during this devastating time. 

Michele

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