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Like a hurricane, humans create paths of destruction

Published August 30, 2004

I was outraged as I drove east on State Road 60 one morning to see that they have now decided to "widen" the road. "Widen" sounds harmless enough, but as I drove on I realized this "widening" would obliterate miles of nesting and spawning sites, including those for my beloved roseate spoonbills.

The next day I saw another heartbreaking thing. There, in the middle of the path, among all the earth-movers and drain pipes, sat two wood storks (endangered species). They looked at me as if to say, "What have you done with our home? Where will we go?"

Over the past 10 years, I have enjoyed watching thousands of birds there and have discovered that many are on the verge of extinction. These are precious resources that we advertise to lure tourists to our beautiful state. I have had the pleasure of seeing horseshoe crabs, nests of roseate spoonbills, red fox, wood storks, skimmers, egrets, herons, ibis, osprey and many others.

I realize that this project will alleviate the traffic problems and is well under way. But perhaps if we look at the devastation left by Hurricane Charley we will realize this is what we are doing daily to our beautiful state, and the consequences thereof are irreversible.

-- -- Diane Adams, Tampa

Sizing up building durability

Re: Mobile home demand stands up to buffeting, Aug. 24.

I recently returned from working in the recovery effort in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. I read this article about mobile homes and wish to share some observations.

My work brought me into almost every neighborhood in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, so I was able to see a lot of the destruction. I noted that almost all of the block homes stood up to the storm, although their roofs did not always survive. Sadly, Spanish tile roofs did not remain intact very much better than shingle roofs. Concrete roofs held up very well in most cases. Metal roofs were usually damaged worst of all.

Wooden homes were often demolished. Nicer modular homes and doublewides in the storm's path were often completely crushed, and were almost always beyond repair. Oddly, older singlewides sometimes survived. I suppose this is because they offer a smaller surface to the winds.

The different construction materials revealed remarkable differences in the survivability or destruction of homes and businesses. Let the potential buyers ponder these options while searching for their next homes. As for myself, I am now a firm believer in getting quality insurance.

-- -- Bud Byrd, New Port Richey

Let parks provide shelters

With all the mobile home parks in Florida and the many times residents are ordered to evacuate due to impending storms, I am appalled that the state does not require park owners to provide storm shelters for all park residents. Many of the elderly residents do not own cars, cannot drive and have no place to go anyway. A safe shelter in the park they live in would solve that problem and keep all residents off crowded evacuation routes.

I am sure this idea is not new, but it would be a good one for an aspiring candidate to grab and run with.

-- Clement E. Palmer, Hudson

-- A lovely group of people

Re: Luxury evacuation hard to swallow, letter, Aug. 21.

The letter writer implies that the residents of South Port Square viewed their situation of being evacuated to the Radisson as snobbishness.

The majority of our residents are in their 80s and 90s, some needing help to navigate. Those who can donate money or their time to worthy causes in our neighborhood are now helping those in need. We are blessed to have the owners and staff of South Port taking the responsibility of caring for our people and seeing to their needs.

What makes the letter writer think that the residents haven't worked hard and saved their money so they could live at South Port? We have a lovely group of people who help each other.

-- -- Norma Thomas, Tampa

Elderly evacuees aren't snobs

Re: Luxury evacuation hard to swallow, letter.

We are residents of South Port Square, living grand old times at 100 grand a day, with the snobbishness that the letter writer referred to. Sadly, my wife and I, between the two of us, had to work 68 years, and we are now in our 80s. So we felt retirement was for us. We lived through a Depression and did not have it easy.

We are not snobbish or selfish, and we had our own modest home like the letter writer. But we were fortunate to find a place like South Port Square to retire. We have lived there 14 years and live a fine life. We are very grateful for what they have done for us because we had no place to go, for we have no family. We were left without water, electricity and sewer, just like other unfortunate people who got hit by the hurricane. We also feel sorry for those people and hope they get the relief they deserve.

Please do not look down on the older generation for what we accomplished in our lifetime. We worked hard over the years and we deserve what we have. If God is willing you will retire and, hopefully, live our lifestyle also.

-- John R. Jannelli, Tampa

-- Powerful assistance

Re: The latest: Heading home, Aug. 22.

I was so pleased to see the paragraph about the power company trucks heading home after spending a week restoring power to areas affected by Hurricane Charley. I was fortunate enough to observe this firsthand while driving home from Pensacola after I dropped my daughter off at college. On I-10 and I-75, I passed several convoys of power company trucks from all over the country: Mississippi Power, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, Missouri, you name it. They had come to Florida to repair the damage from Hurricane Charley and were finally heading home.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for these men and women who gave up over a week of their time and left their families to help out where they could. It's what America is all about, and having seen this I feel proud to be part of this great country that is really one large community of neighbors and friends.

-- Cathie Chapman, Clearwater

-- An inspiring story

Re: Turning setbacks into stepping stones, Aug. 23.

-- Bravo for Sierra Simmons. There is nothing now to stop her from doing whatever she wants. She grew up alone, around drugs, but ended up a straight-A student. Maybe her story will help other kids who think life is too hard for them.

If Sierra can do it, so can you. Good luck.

-- -- Dora Bearden, St. Petersburg [Last modified August 30, 2004, 00:52:24]


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