The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

Some of you know that I’ve spent the last few winters in a small mobile home in a small trailer court in Ft. Myers, Florida. I own the home, pay rent on the lot, like everyone else in this situation.

You also know at this point that the hurricane that just hit Florida came right through Ft. Myers. Now I will tell you that, at this moment, two days later, the trailer court still has a couple of feet of water in it. In Florida, there just aren’t many ways for water to go. The whole state is flat. Add a lot of rain, add the fact that the soil is completely saturated from recent rains, and finally, add the tides that raise and lower the bay, which is about a mile from me there, and then! You can add what is called a “surge.”

When the circular winds of a hurricane first arrive, they’re blowing water out, away from land. The bay is not deep. At low tide, one can almost walk across a mile of water. Thus, when the wind pushes water out, it’s gone.

But then the back of the hurricane comes, with winds completely opposite. They push the water back in. Then add in a high tide, and bingo–everything within miles is under water.

Which includes the trailer park where I was. Water there reached somewhere around eight to ten feet high. Add in 75-mph-plus winds with the accompanying waves, disaster

“We know the water in our new mobile home was high. We’re five feet up, and there are water marks five feet up the walls.” She went on: “I know it was deep–all the furniture is moved around.” This from one tenant who snuck back into the trailer park, where the water was still a foot deep.

In Florida, with humidity higher than most Yankees ever see, moisture that sticks around causes mold. I guess that explains why most of us owners now don’t even have to go down there. There’s nothing to do but walk away, leave the remains to the owner of the court. Most older mobile homes–and there are thousands and thousands of them in that area—were up only a couple of feet. Everything inside? Now soaked and covered with a gooey salty residue of mud, salt, sewage, dead fish, and who knows what. Short of completely gutting floors, walls, ceiling, ground supports, there is no “cleanup.”

In a Facebook posting, some tenant who isn’t there wondered when they could come and “clean up.” Uh, uh. There isn’t any cleanup. 

Right now, we’re all just wondering what’s going to happen. Frankly, I think the owner will bulldoze the 160 units, and sell the land for millions of dollars. But we don’t know. All that debris!

I kind of wonder where my vehicle went. Most cars floated away to…..where? Florida has a monstrous situation ahead of it. That area of Ft. Myers, top to bottom, residential, commercial, looks like an atom bomb went off!

Insurance?? I, like most of us, don’t have it. Most people down there in their new, $80,000 mobile homes are finding out that, yes indeed, they have flood insurance. Now, after paying thousands of dollars for many years, they’re finding that “surge” damage isn’t considered a flood. And it’s not covered. Someone just posted on Facebook: “We just closed on a unit we purchased four days ago. All gone!” Heart breaking.

The good news? I won’t have to pay someone upwards of five hundred dollars to clear my driveway this winter, which I can do with my full-size 1982 K-10 Chevy Blazer with an eight-foot snow plow on the front. It’s a sheer delight to get in that and shove snow around. Mostly.

Other good news? We can stay here and eat some of the locally grown stuff that our freezers are full of. We just canned 52 two-quart jars of whole apples, which we now look forward to eating.

Plus we don’t have to pay the lot rent down there. In fact, that leaves us several thousand bucks to get in the car and go somewhere, see the country. (South, though. Not north.)

I do feel good about those things, but when I think about the people who live down there year around, whose homes for miles around are under water, it kind of slows me back down a bit.

If anyone sees my Dakota pickup floating by, let me know, will you?