Ignoring mandatory evacuation orders, one Manatee County man says he’s lucky to be alive after his neighbor’s roof almost came through his house during Hurricane Irma on Sunday.
“I’m just happy I woke up the next day,” Joseph Kane said at his Del Vista Lago mobile park home.
While county officials were relieved that Hurricane Irma did not do significant damage countywide, mobile home parks were the exception.
Still, the damage was hit-and-miss with some taking no damage, others taking some, and others that took the brunt.
Kane’s neighbor was out of state when his roof let go.
“It sounded like something out of the Wizard of Oz,” Kane said. “All I’m doing now is calling people who left and letting them know if they have damage.”
Kane said he stayed to watch his neighbor’s two cats, but realizes now how lucky he was.
Roland Marshall wasn’t taking any chances. The Trailer Estates resident evacuated to his son’s concrete house. Marshall lost a portion of his roof, as well.
“It came off the back end and got a lot of water in the bedroom,” Marshall said. “But it isn’t as bad as others.”
Marshall said he made the right decision, but it was a hard thing to do.
“I took what I could,” he said. “It was hard, not knowing if you had a home to come back to.”
Capt. Beth Young, of the Trailer Estates Volunteer Fire Department, said she saw similar damage throughout the park.
“Lots of roof damage, power lines down and structural damage,” Young said. “It’s been a long four days, but we are going to continue to assess throughout the day. We have a lot of young guys here, but they love what they do and have done a remarkable job.”
Valerie Marsh was horrified when she returned to her home in Casa Loma Mobile Home Park after waiting out Hurricane Irma in Sarasota.
“Someone texted me, ‘There’s no damage. We have electricity,’” Marsh said she held a Newport cigarette between her bubblegum pink-manicured fingers. “So we came home, I rounded the corner. My heart went into my throat.”
The outer layer of her roof had blown off, but she still has the rubber layer underneath. One of her neighbors, who went to Naples for the storm, wasn’t so lucky.
“When (her neighbor) left, the storm was initially not going that way, so she thought she’d be safe,” Marsh said.
Marsh said the neighbor had put plywood over her windows, but the roof came completely off, damaging everything inside.
She’s convinced a tornado swept through the area, as the impact hit a concentrated area of the park.
The National Weather Service office in Ruskin had not received any reports of tornadoes in Manatee County, as most of the activity was around the Atlantic coast, said forecaster Marc Austin.
“Most of the damage that’s going on is the wind damage that’s associated with the hurricane,” Austin said.
Marsh said she’s just glad no one was hurt.
With sweat soaking through his grey USA T-shirt and a power drill sitting within arm’s reach, John Gentry took a break Monday afternoon from fixing the skirts that had been ripped from his home in Pleasant Lake.
He said he decided to stay bundled away from Hurricane Irma in the comfort of his home, keeping his Murphy bed in its upright position while he slept on a cot.
"It gave me a pretty good mattress of protection from something flying through the window," Gentry said.
Nearby Braden River High School was full as a shelter, and he didn’t believe the hurricane would hit Manatee County hard, as its track continued to change throughout the day.
“One guy made sense: ‘Don’t drive hundreds of miles; drive tens of miles and just avoid the storm in your car,’” Gentry said. “Well, now 6 million people left Florida. Now 6 million people have to come back into the teeth of Irma.”
Now, he was left with the small cleanup.
“I’ve got three screws to drive and then I’m going to take a nap,” he said.