Hurricane Irma: Mobile-home park residents board up, seek safer ground


In mobile-homes parks across Palm Beach County, windows were boarded and driveways empty Thursday as Hurricane Irma neared.

The parks are among the most vulnerable places amid the winds of any hurricane, let alone a Category 5 storm such as Irma. As such, most residents of Monet Acres, a 55-and-older community off RCA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, had plans to stay with friends and family elsewhere in Palm Beach County until the storm clears.

When Hurricane Matthew threatened Palm Beach County last October, everyone huddled in the clubhouse for safety. This time, residents aren’t taking any chances. One woman said she plans to stay with her friend in Palm Beach Country Estates, north of Donald Ross Road and west of Interstate 95. She has all impact-resistant windows and doors, and everything is well-anchored, she said.

Hurricane Irma coverage: Follow The Palm Beach Post’s certified weather reporter, Kim Miller on Twitter

“People all shutter-up really good here. It’s been here for 50 years, and I expect it will be here for 50 more,” she said of the park.

Residents take care of each other, she and another resident said. One man just had a mild stroke and his wife had a heart attack, so the other neighbors closed up their house for them, a resident named Vivian said.

Staying really isn’t an option. The police will come and make people leave if the storm is bad enough, she said.

Vivian’s mobile home is tied down every 6 feet and built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

“You put up shutters, as you see, and you pray. It withstood all of them, and now we pray that it withstands Irma,” she said. “It’s in God’s hands.”

Residents of The Meadows mobile home park were still boarding up and bringing their possessions inside Thursday afternoon. The property managers were riding around the community on golf carts making sure residents removed any items that could fly around and become projectiles in hurricane-force winds.

Similar actions were taking place at the Bluegrass Mobile Home Park in West Palm Beach, which the city placed under a voluntary evacutation. Chris Miller said he stayed in his home during Hurricane Matthew, but planned to leave Friday morning to stay with family in Alabama.

Miller said he had a simple reason for leaving this time.

“Because it’s a (Category) 5,” he said. “(You have) 185 mph winds and plus the video I’m seeing what it did to them little islands, it’s crazy. I wish it wasn’t coming, but I know it will destroy this trailer.”

At the Long Lake Village Mobile Home Park in suburban West Palm Beach, several homes were boarded up. Marty Jackson, one of its residents, said he is planning to stay with his daughter at her Boynton Beach condo.

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“You pretty much have to (evacuate) living in a mobile home,” he said. “I did stay one year and I said, ‘Hmm. After that I’ll leave.’ If you listen to all the hype, it’s going to be bad, but I’ve been here all my life and came through every one that came through.”

At The Meadows in Palm Beach Gardens, a young man was debating whether to ride out the hurricane in a mobile home he renovated and moved into in December. The home is on a lake, which was mostly drained, but close to the Intracoastal Waterway, he said. His other option is a friend’s house in Jupiter.

He decided to forgo shutters or plywood because Home Depot was out of stock, and he figured that would do little to protect the house, especially if the hurricane takes the roof off. He kept a car parked at Palm Beach International Airport until the storm passes.

Another resident named MaryAnn was packing up for a house in Tequesta. Her son, a former contractor, was putting up her aluminum panel shutters.

She went through two hurricanes at a house in Jupiter with only damage to the carport roof, she said. Concrete block homes “are the best,” she said. “This one’s making me nervous.”

“It’s so gorgeous today, you’d never know we’re going to get a Cat 4 hurricane,” she said.

She just moved into the mobile home in The Meadows this spring after a stint taking care of family in Connecticut and plans to ride out the hurricane at her daughter’s house on Riverside Drive in Tequesta – along with dogs, cats a parrot and a lizard.

Her grandson is a police officer who will be stationed on Singer Island during the storm. He lives behind her and finished getting his house ready before he went to work.

MaryAnn said she planned to take some clothes and personal items with her since she didn’t know what she’d have to come back to.



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