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50-plus mobile homes damaged

Park residents may not know what a "gustnado" is, but they know the kind of damage they see around them.

By JACOB H. FRIES
Published July 22, 2005

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[Times photo: Jim Damaske]
Residents of the Palm Hill Country Club mobile home park in Largo look at damage Thursday after a storm with violent winds whipped through the area Wednesday. Officials estimated there was $437,705 in damage at the park.

LARGO - A day after violent winds sliced through a swath of the city, residents began to clear the wreckage left behind, piling up twisted metal, patching roofs and boarding up punched-out windows.

In all, more than 50 mobile homes sustained damage, with a handful destroyed or condemned around Seminole Boulevard and Ulmerton Road near Largo Mall, county and city officials said.

No one was injured, although with widespread power outages, a few elderly residents were left without working oxygen machines and had to be taken to hospitals.

Building officials estimated $437,705 in damage at Palm Hill Country Club mobile home park, the one hardest hit, at 1800 Seminole Blvd. There were 36 homes with damage, three of which will have to be demolished, said Mike Sizemore, the city's building official.

"The good news is that most of the damage I saw were older carports or older structures ... Some of them 10 to 15 years old," Sizemore said. "That tells me the new (building) codes are working very well."

Six other mobile home parks - including Ranchero Village, Honeyvine and Town & Country - sustained at least some storm-related destruction county officials said.

A total financial estimate was not available Thursday.

All of the affected residents found shelter Wednesday night with friends and relatives, turning down hotel vouchers from the American Red Cross, which continued outreach efforts Thursday.

The powerful winds also struck the Publix at 10411 Ulmerton, turning over a construction trailer and damaging a few vehicles.

Authorities continued to patrol the neighborhoods and made only one arrest, a man they suspected of looting. Largo police Officer Ann Starling spotted the pickup filled with metal leaving Palm Hill on Thursday.

[Last modified July 21, 2005, 19:30:04]

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