PLACIDA, Fla. — Line officials in Charlotte County said the damage at Gasparilla Mobile Estates is some of the worst they’ve seen since Hurricane Ian.
The devastation in Placida is so great that park owners are calling for the place to be abandoned.
Residents said they have to get out by November 7.
Walking down the street, it seems that no trailer was spared from the storm. Many decided to evacuate ahead of time.
“I couldn’t believe my trailer,” Lori McKeown said.
“We were due. We should have scored. And we got one,” added Carl Dudley.
Now, the sound of the rescue tool penetrates the entire neighborhood. Walking today, we met a number of people who said that the pieces of rubble in the streets were once a part of their lives.
For McKeown, her trailer is more than a memory. It’s a family heirloom.
“There’s been someone in my family in this park since the ’60s,” she said.
The storm did not cause as much structural damage to her house compared to some neighbors. However, the unseen damage left behind is what forces her to find a new place to live.
“There’s already too much mold and mildew in there to make it unlivable,” McKeown said.
Around the corner, Dudley’s roof is gone and the front wall is being held up by a rope. He said robbers robbed him and two neighbors.
“They have machines here,” he said, pointing to the next door.
He’s still trying to recover what he can. All this time he is tasked with finding a new place to live.
“I thought I’d just live here and then I’d whistle down. Well yeah, I’m pretty sad,” Dudley said.
Down the street, Gary DuPree is the opposite of sad. In fact, it’s ready to go after being hit by a tornado and a major hurricane in the same year.
“I can’t get out of here fast enough,” DuPri said.
He made the incredible decision to stay in his trailer while Ian went through it.
“I know hurricanes, but this one was something unknown,” DuPree said.
His home was almost demolished. The roof has been removed. But still, DuPree reaches out to her neighbors.
“I can help anyone who needs it,” he said. “Caring and loving your fellow man, that’s all you can do.”
That feeling of support brought Kathy Less to tears when a tarp appeared out of the blue to help her cover her trailer near the front of the park.
“They just stopped and I said I’m sorry I just don’t have the funds to pay. I don’t have insurance for this and she said no problem,” Less said.
“It’s not all about the money, it’s about helping the community, and that’s why we’re here,” replied Angie Pineda of HR1 Tarps.
Menje said she returned to Gasparilla Mobile Estates as soon as possible after the storm. She lived on MREs and what little water she had. This act of kindness coming from Miami even brought her to tears.
“It’s just the heart in people who give to us so freely is amazing,” said Les.
With the park closing in less than a month, everyone here not only has to pick up the pieces, but also find a new home, as rebuilding is not an option.
“I’m just going to put it in God’s hands. I’m sure there’s an adventure for me in there somewhere,” said Less.