Trailer park residents deal with Ian's flood, no insurance, and eventually - no place to go
At a riverfront trailer park in Naples, residents are salvaging what they can from the wreckage of their homes. Polluted floodwaters inundated the neighborhood, making the mobile homes unsafe to live in and leaving some residents with nowhere else to go.
Just off of Highway 41, tucked behind a Ferrari dealership and a golf course, residents of the Palm River trailer park are picking through what little they have left.
Storm surge inundated this neighborhood on the edge of the Cocohatchee River, coating the floors, countertops and furniture in a film of muck. The mold is setting in and the smell is intense.
Bruce Magee says he’s lived here for about 10 years, after moving down from Buffalo, NY and buying his home in cash.
A streak of mud about seven feet high marks the water line on the side of his trailer. At its highest, Magee said there was seven feet of water in his home, inundating it with a toxic slurry of muck, chemicals and sewage.
“We just did a couple of days worth of laundry to save our clothes,” Magee said. “We're just trying to salvage whatever little bit we can, you know, like pots and pans.”
Magee says he loves this place, with its little riverfront marina, just a mile and a half from the ocean as the crow flies.
To Magee, it’s a little slice of Gulf Coast paradise. But none of the homes are insurable, he said, not that he could afford the premiums anyway.
“A mobile home next to the river? They just said, ‘nice try’,” Magee said.
Magee and his girlfriend said a work friend helped them find a free place to stay for the next month. After that, they’re not sure what they’ll do. But they’re set on staying in Southwest Florida.
“The prices are outrageous. Two bedrooms for $2,000 a month?” Magee said with a sigh. “I don't understand.”
Down the street, another neighbor says he’s intent on moving back into his trailer within 10 days – despite having multiple feet of polluted water inundating his home – that is, if he can get ahold of the building materials to replace the sagging, waterlogged floor.
Residents say they wish the electricity would be restored so they could air out the mildewy stink that’s permeated their homes.
One resident who didn’t want to be named said she and her husband are sleeping in their car outside their trailer. A county-run shelter isn’t an option, she said: they don’t want to leave behind what little they have left.
Kate Payne is WLRN's education reporter. She is on assignment for sister station WGCU.